September 14, 2007
HOPE in Houston

You already know that I love the TV show Dirty Jobs. One of the dirty secrets about a lot of these jobs, the ones that Mike Rowe says "make civilized life possible", is that a lot of them don't pay very well. How much would you have to be paid before you'd agree to work at a sewage processing plant? Go ahead, think of a number. Now read this.

Visitors to the site, which will be updated every two weeks with new profiles, can read about workers like Arthur Proctor, a Senior Sludge Processor at Houston's 69th Street Plant, who works in stifling conditions decontaminating up to 112 tons of sewage sludge a day. Even though he's worked at the plant for nearly 12 years, Proctor makes just $15 per hour.

I'll bet your number was bigger than that. Now ask yourself how much you think it's worth to the city of Houston for those 112 tons of sewage sludge to be decontaminated each day. Bit of a gap there, wouldn't you say?

That information comes from - and no, I can't believe that domain name was still available, either - which is a production of the Houston Organization of Public Employees (HOPE), who represent folks like Arthur Proctor. Go give it a click and read about more of the people who do Houston's dirty jobs, and how much - or not so much - they get paid for their efforts to keep our fair city clean and habitable. And ask yourself again: How much would you have to pay me to do those jobs?

Posted by Charles Kuffner on September 14, 2007 to Local politics

This is not surprising, considering City employee wages are reported as being 15-21% below private sector equivalents. Some of our employees do the toughest jobs for the worst pay, which tends to result in high turnover.

I think we can do better, and if the pension system changes again, we will HAVE to do better.

Posted by: Noel Freeman on September 14, 2007 9:14 AM

"Some of our employees do the toughest jobs for the worst pay..."

...and, in addition to the low wages, they must listen to resident complain endlessly about their "high taxes", and how government employees are lazy, uncaring mooches off society. It wasn't always this way. There was a time when government employees were admired. A few of us still do. It isn't much, but I make a point to say hello or give a wave to every city employee who travels my street. It really is the least I can do.

Posted by: RedScare on September 14, 2007 9:49 AM