Nuvo Newsweekly–the alternative weekly here in Indianapolis–ran a great cover story about the struggle of downtown and northside hotel workers to organize a union. One of the workers, Jessie Ham (above on the left) is prominently featured in the article is a friend our church, Lockerbie Central United Methodist Church.
She sums up this struggle:
Ham considers what life would be like if she tried to raise a family on her salary. “If I had a child – and I’m in my mid 20s, so it’s not farfetched for me to be thinking of it – I couldn’t afford it, and I work in one of the nicest hotels and nicest restaurants,” she said. “I could not afford to eat in The Eagle’s Nest.” Entrees at the revolving restaurant atop the Hyatt run approximately $30-$60.
She also talks about her encounter with Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard:
Ham attended a Mayor’s Night Out meeting in mid-May and wrote in a question for Mayor Greg Ballard: The Capital Improvement Board is bringing in $3.5 billion in revenue, the hospitality industry is creating thousands of jobs, yet hotel workers are struggling to get by. What can we do?
She said Ballard stumbled over the answer, eventually offering that she should “find another job.” The mayor was unavailable for comment for this story.
There are some great United Methodist pastors who have been upfront and helping workers organize. Rev. Darren Kushman-Wood locally is one of those pastors and I highly reccomend his book, Blue-Collar Jesus: How Christianity Supports Worker’s Rights. Darren is also a great church leader and has done great work to transform his current church, Speedway Unitd Methodist, into a congregation that is engaged with the community.
But its probably time for the pastors at the biggest, most influential United Methodist churches, to start speaking some truth to power.