09/07/2012 03:33 pm ET Updated Sep 08, 2012

Charlotte Convention Janitors Better Paid Than Tampa Convention Janitors

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Party officials did not determine the pay rates for workers at either event, but janitorial staffers at the Democratic National Convention here earned slightly better money than janitors at the Republican convention in Tampa, Fla.

The Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority, which manages the convention center and other public facilities in Charlotte, said it hired roughly 100 workers to help with the Democrats' event, paying them between $8 and $10 an hour.

The people pushing trash bins at the Republican National Convention earned the state's minimum wage of $7.67 an hour, and some of them also had to pay for their own uniforms.

Carolyn Walker told HuffPost she'd been cleaning the Tampa convention center for 13 years, and that her pay dropped from $8 to the minimum wage when the convention center farmed the work out to a subcontractor years ago. "It stinks, to tell you the truth," she said. "We work very hard."

Labor advocates often criticize subcontracting, saying it can lead to lower wages and that it subverts worker protections. In addition to the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority's workers, there were also several subcontractors doing janitorial work at the Charlotte Convention Center. Spokespeople for subcontractors declined to be interviewed or ignored requests; one subcontracted worker cleaning out trash bins said she earned $10 an hour.

Another subcontracted worker said she made $8 for cleaning bathrooms. She said others who had been hired by the convention center through a job fair were making more for similar work. "It's ridiculous," said the worker, who refused to give her name for fear of retribution. "I'm doing the same job as them. I said that to my boss." She said that her boss refused to talk about the pay issue further.

A food service worker, who was seen wheeling away empty cardboard boxes, told HuffPost that he was making $8 an hour. "Not a lot," explained Danny Carithers, 23. "But it's something."

Bobbie Thompson of Charlotte had been out of work for three years, getting by with the help of family and by selling crochet hats, when she showed up at a job fair at the Charlotte Convention Center on July 28.

"I didn't know what the job was about," Thompson, 46, said in an interview. "They interviewed me and gave me a call back the following week."

During the Democratic National Convention, Thompson worked each day from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m., making sure bathrooms stayed clean. The thousands of reporters didn't give her too much trouble: "I met a lot of nice people."

Thompson declined to discuss her compensation, but one of her colleagues who also showed up for the job fair reported earning $9.50 per hour, above the state's $7.25 minimum wage. Several workers said they did not have to pay for their own uniforms and that they received free meals.

Thompson said she hopes she gets called back for more shifts after the convention. "I love the work," she said.



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