You know what the biggest problem with stuff written about the service industry is? Only people in the service industry read it. Nobody else reads, cares, or bothers to understand the struggle of the service industry employees, particularly since “all this shit started.”
It took me a few days to read the comments made by Senator Ted Cruz with regards to service industry employees, which, paraphrasing, said something along the lines of “waiters and waitresses” don’t want to go back to work because they don’t make upwards of $600 a week. This was to defend not extending FPUC benefits for those who are unemployed.
I responded to this publicly by saying that if Senator Cruz did not think servers made upwards of $600 a week, he was crazy, and clearly had never done such a job. I followed that by stating:
“Nobody does this work for the sheer love of being verbally abused by middle aged women while standing on their feet for 8–10 hours a day.
Second, maybe if anyone had any sort of vision for America- education, innovation, etc., we wouldn’t rely so heavily on the service sector to employ people in the first place.”
That’s kind of where I am with all of this right now. It’s clear that indoor social spaces where respiratory droplets can fly free are responsible for the spread of COVID, and for New Yorkers, those of us who work in the service industry just don’t have the opportunity to go back to work in the capacity that will pay us.
We absolutely make the amount of money when we were working that we are making on unemployment. Historically, there’s a lot of tax evasion in the industry. That probably hides some of it, and is a separate issue, but I was eligible for the maximum payment from NY State with regard to unemployment. I made that much money, in real American dollars.
Also, the people who didn’t pay taxes weren’t eligible for such money. People working “off the books” didn’t get any money from UI, and weren’t eligible for FPUC.
Then, you have a whole lot of undocumented immigrants in the service industry, who pay taxes, usually with a Federal Tax ID number, and they don’t receive a cent! They’re still not being paid, five months later. I know some of these people. You don’t, because we have a scary president who threatens them all the time, but they’re living among us, struggling.
The biggest kick in the pants when it comes to so much of this is that families are starving. People are going to lose their homes. There are going to be real ramifications for FPUC not being extended, and once again using service employees as the scapegoat to all of these “people don’t want to work” concerns, well, I just don’t think this is healthy for anyone.
You know what else is really frustrating during this? All the shaming.
I’m on Medicaid right now, because when I lost my job, my mother told me to apply for it. I thought that was a good idea during a global health crisis, so I did, and I got approved. I’m sure that FPUC benefits are going to fuck me in the upcoming year, but for now, I’m glad that during a time when I actually need it, it’s available to me.
I haven’t had healthcare in a long time, and I had somebody try to shame me yesterday for having it, making a comment insinuating that their taxes paid for it.
I’ve been paying taxes for Medicare since I was 16 years old, and I’ve paid heavily into the system for years upon years. When the Affordable Care Act mandated all employees working a certain number of hours be eligible for health insurance by their employer, the evil corporation I work for lowered their employer contribution for premiums to basically nothing so that hourly employees wouldn’t be able to afford the benefits. They’re something close to $400 a month.
Because we make “so much on paper,” healthcare benefits through the Marketplace are also unaffordable. For me to get an 80/20 shitty ass health plan, I’d be paying over $500, and that’s just not in the cards for me as I have a laundry list of bills that are part of the reason I’m stuck working in hospitality in the first place. (Because it pays well, Ted Cruz.. Because it pays well.) My story isn’t uncommon. A couple I work with was paying around $1,000 a month on the marketplace for healthcare. What world is this?
Yet, guess what? We all are paying Medicare taxes. We’ve all been paying into that system for as long as we’ve been employed. Why the fuck should I be ashamed for being able to get a routine physical with blood work for the first time in seven years? I’m a human. And isn’t it a shame that I had to lose my job so that I could have a basic human right? Doesn’t that point out yet another problem with America, Senator Cruz?
Why are people trying to shame service industry employees for being out of work? Nobody wants to be out of work. Nobody wants their stress hormones flying as they feverishly try to think of what the hell they’re going to “do for a living,” especially when the stigma of restaurant work keeps people from branching out of food and beverage.
Nobody wants to be robbing Peter to pay Paul, putting minimum payments on their credit cards so they can use those cards to buy groceries, and calling their student loan companies begging for forbearances. Nobody wants this life.
The New York Times just published this article stating that a whopping third of small businesses might close forever due to the pandemic.
Where do you suppose those people go to work, Senator Cruz? Do you think they’re living high off the hog right now as they know they don’t have a job to return to?
Do you think they knew that the government would soon pull the rug from under them, and along with that, their job likely would be gone forever? This has left them to search frantically for any sort of respite in an industry that has been by-in-large eradicated by the pandemic, and, when cold weather hits, probably will exist minimally, if at all.
We have big problems in America. We don’t have manufacturing, not anymore. With globalization, it’s really hard for us to keep up with the rest of the world because our education system is garbage. We are a country of idiots, mocked entirely by the whole living, breathing world right now. People have actually drank bleach and thrown “Covid parties” during this hellish pandemic. The world looks at us in disgust.
We have little to offer anyone. We rely on hospitality to employ people. 16.7 million people work in leisure and hospitality and they’re in need of a place to go.
It should not be expected that they go and pick up a minimum wage job, when the federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour. The average service industry employee living off of tips cannot afford their bills on such a wage. You wouldn’t ask that anyone from any other industry take a minimum wage job after losing a higher salary that provided them a living. You would ensure their care until they could return to work.
This is a serious problem right now. FPUC needs to be extended, and not just because your local bartender is out of work. The service industry is a small, but important piece of the equation, and using their employment or lack thereof to fortify a conservative agenda is immoral.
I hope you enjoy your fucking vacation.