Kudos to all the garbagemen and -women, sewer workers, plumbers, and every other job that we, as a society, take for granted—while some people refuse to do these jobs, someone’s got to do it! But the bigger question to ask is, Are these workers even happy doing the jobs no one else will do?
According to the Rapid City Journal, the answer to this questions is yes, but that’s only if you ask workers at Keiffer Sanitation in South Dakota. While the life of a sanitation worker isn’t all glitz and glam, it provides steady pay and a secure job that isn’t at the mercy of the economy. If Wall Street collapses, we’ll all still need someone to come pick up our trash and clean our sewers.
To drive this point further, Rapid City Journal interviewed workers at Keiffer Sanitation. Keiffer’s District Manager, Casey Bulyca, told Rapid City, “Our guys do a good job, and garbage is never going away—it’s incredible consistent … [t]here is nothing glorious about what we do, but it’s a good job with a fair wage and something we are proud of.” Bulyca adds, “Everybody makes jokes about garbage, but imagine if every garbage man quit picking up garbage tomorrow … [i]n a week or two it would be a health crisis.”
Troy Quicke—a portable toilet pumper at Keiffer—has a great sense of humor about his job, saying, “I drive a turd hearse.” Quicke says he pumps about 50 stand-alone portable toilets, on average, a day and loves it. However, he does add that the $5,000 sign-on bonus kind of sealed the deal for him.
“I never thought it was something I would do, but it’s a good job,” Quicke told Rapid City. “The company takes care of its employees, it’s just a good place to work and the management is fantastic. They buy us drinks and lunch, and they are concerned for our safety. With exception of the Sturgis rally, it’s usually a Monday through Friday job with good benefits and good pay.” The Sturgis rally is an annual motorcycle rally that draws roughly 500,000 riders over a 10-day period.
You’re probably wondering how these workers can tolerate the smell. Quicke and Bulyca say it’s not for everyone; however, “[w]hen you first turn on the pump it stinks pretty bad, but you get used to it.” Quicke says that not having a weak stomach probably helps. The pay probably helps, too, as South Dakota’s minimum wage is $8.65 per hour, but workers at Keiffer Sanitation make on average $17 to $21 per hour.
From a personal perspective, my cousin is a plumber, and he absolutely loves his job! He says there is never a dull moment, and you see the most random things shoved in peoples’ pipes. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the sanitation industry has seen a steady increase in employment over the last decade. If all sanitation employers are as caring as Keiffer is, there’s no question as to how the industry is retaining its workers.
|Melissa Blazejak is a Senior Web Content Editor at BLR. She has written articles for HR.BLR.com and the HR Daily Advisor websites and is responsible for the day-to-day management of HR.BLR.com and HRLaws.com. She has been at BLR since 2014. She graduated with a BA of Science, specializing in Communication, from Eastern Connecticut State University in 2008. Most recently, she graduated in 2014 with a MS of Educational Technology.|