Monday, March 21, 2011

Ballard's "transient" workers comment pisses me off too

Melina Kennedy, the presumed mayoral nominee for the Marion County Democrats, has put Mayor Greg Ballard on the hotspot when it comes to the smoking ban. Kennedy has stated she supports a full smoking ban. What is a full smoking ban? It probably means getting rid of several of the exceptions in the current ordinance. Ballard, however, has repeatedly said he would veto this proposed legislation if it reached his desk. While being grilled on the subject by The Indianapolis Star's political columnist Matthew Tully, Ballard referred to service industry workers who work in smoky bars and taverns as "transient" workers.

I think Ballard has been spending a bit too much time at the three country clubs he has memberships at, and not enough in the real world. Next time he orders his dinner at The Columbia Club, he should ask the "transient" server how many years he's been working in the dining industry. My guess would be that establishments that cater to the well-off hire servers and bartenders that have a decade of experience, if not, more. These people make it their careers to please people, and largely rely on tips for their income. These aren't low skill labor jobs where the "tricks of the trade" can easily be taught, and these high-end restaurants and bars know that loyalty is valuable.

And even among the low-end jobs such as cashiering, dishwashing, and food prep in less-than-high-end establishments, there are people that work in these industries for decades, usually between two or three jobs. In a city that heavily relies on conventions (IE visitors coming in and spending money), there will always be a need for people making coffee, preparing sandwiches, and checking people into hotel rooms, and so on.

This doesn't change my opinion on the smoking ban itself. I think the current ordinance, as is, is fine. But it's comments like these that could put Ballard's future in jeopardy. If he honestly believes these service-industry employees are "transient", then he's more out of touch than I thought.

1 comment:

  1. I was a waiter for 5 years in the early 90s and I can tell you that people in the food service industry do move around quite a bit. But I cant for the life of me understand how that helps his argument. Waiters might move around a lot from one job to another but they rarely change fields.


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