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Custodian salaries lower than industry standard - The Red and Black : News

Custodian salaries lower than industry standard

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Posted: Wednesday, September 26, 2012 7:00 am | Updated: 10:08 am, Thu Sep 27, 2012.

Building service workers at the University may not earn enough money to make ends meet.

Dexter Fisher, the director of facilities management at the University, said the starting salary for the employees who clean the University is $22,000 a year, the average salary is $24,500 and the highest salary is $35,000 to $38,000 a year. He said pay varies based on position and how long a person has been with facilities management.

“Not too long ago we were right at $17,500 [starting salary], so when things were good, we really tried to get the salary up,” he said.

He said the starting pay is still not as high as he would like it to be. The average introductory salary right now industry-wide is $26,000 to $28,000, he said.

Fisher said he does not know how many employees have second jobs, but he said it would not surprise him if many of them do.

“No salaries have decreased, but I think as health care [and other things] have gone up, probably people have been taking home less [money] because they haven’t gotten raises in the last five years,” Fisher said.

Randy Sanders, who works in structural maintenance on North Campus, said he does upkeep of the buildings as well as a lot of renovations.

“We do a lot of going in and dividing rooms up to make smaller offices,” he said. “[We do] complete renovations, which includes painting, new ceilings, new flooring, pretty much anything.”

Sanders said he takes on additional work to help afford what he needs. 

He said that after 19 years he is making close to $14 an hour. He makes about $28,700 a year, according to Open Georgia.

“I do a lot of what I call ‘side work’ away from here,” he said. “I do painting jobs and pressure washing just to make ends meet.”

Sanders is just one of many building service workers who take on additional work.

“A large number of our employees have a second job because of the nature of their salary and because, believe it or not, they like having a second job,” Fisher said.

Jerry Heninger, a superintendent for building services, said he feels he is fairly compensated. He makes about $51,550 a year, according to Open Georgia.

Heninger does some additional work, but he said he does not do it to pay the bills. 

“I do some consulting on the side,” he said. “But that is just something I like to do. It is because I enjoy doing that.”

Heninger said a lot of the workers he oversees have second jobs, but he could not give an exact percentage.

“I think almost everybody does a little something on the side. Whether it is out of necessity or enjoyment, I don’t know,” he said. “If you have a short month and need a little extra money, go do something on the side.”

In addition to a lack of raises, facilities management has downsized over the last few years because of budget cuts — but no one has been fired.

Fisher said there are approximately 250 employees working in two different shifts — down from more than 400.

“What we have done is if someone retires, we won’t replace him or her,” Fischer said. “Our position is that our last resort is not to lay anyone off if at all possible.”

Because of the lower numbers of employees, Fisher said people are covering more space than the industry standard.

“Each employee should be covering about 25,000 square feet on an eight-hour shift. We are averaging at 28,000 to 30,000 square feet,” he said. “It is probably just a mild inconvenience right now because our staff really takes pride in what they do.”

Heninger said there are small groups of people who may not like their work, but for the most part, his people enjoy what they do.

“We get to cover every sort of educational building. We have really good customers in all the individual departments that we serve,” he said. “You really couldn’t ask for a prettier office than the University of Georgia facilities.”

Sanders said he agrees.

“It is an interesting job, and I enjoy being able to be out and work all over campus,” he said. “It is a beautiful campus.”

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  • bosshawg posted at 5:33 pm on Thu, Sep 27, 2012.

    bosshawg Posts: 7

    BS limited skilled labor will run out one day and i hope i live to see these high headed rich boys an girls clean their own toilets and buildings book boy

  • Veritatem posted at 4:52 pm on Thu, Sep 27, 2012.

    Veritatem Posts: 60

    While we may wish the pay in many cases could be elevated, the "Industry Standard" does not take into effect the cost of living in Athens, or emphasize the reduced or no taxation on lower incomes, possible Section 8 and other housing assistance, possible SNAP assistance, and present high unemployment figures. For limited skilled labor having a regular paycheck plus state health and pension benefits is better than many alternatives.

  • bosshawg posted at 4:31 pm on Thu, Sep 27, 2012.

    bosshawg Posts: 7

    ha ha your interveiwing the wrong people $51000 a year guess he is happy lot of people over there would love to be making that $14 an hour.