Cast iron water main manhole cover in potholed road

© Jill Shepherd |

City Water Workers Say They're Drowning in Overtime with Little Pay

“You can’t keep doing it like that, you’ll drop dead."

May 23, 2018 - 10:12 am

ST. LOUIS (KMOX) - Workers in St. Louis City's Water Department say they're drowning. Not in water, but financially, because they're not getting paid enough to support a family.  

John Williams showed up, as shop steward, to plead their case in front of the city's Civil Service Commission.

Williams says one of his co-workers spends $687 every two weeks for insurance for his wife and one of their kids. He couldn't afford insurance for the other child, and they were sent to live with grandparents in the county.

And Williams says they've been told they can't get second jobs because they've got to be on-call 24 hours in case of a water main break.

“You can’t keep doing it like that, you’ll drop dead," he says. "You’ll drop dead trying to keep up with something like that, working 60 hours overtime to 100. Sometimes guys work 100-something hours overtime in two weeks. You can’t keep working like that."

He says men trying to support their families make about $13.65 an hour at what they thought would be a career - a step up from fast food. And their Missouri-American Water counterparts in the county make about $30 an hour.

The Civil Service Commission basically said they sympathize, but can't help unless workers start quitting.