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Arena workers among those to get screwed by lockout

Sep 28, 2011, 12:54 PM EDT

staples-center

While the NBA owners and players wage war over how to divide up the fans’ money, there will be a lot of civilian casualties.

Millionaires and billionaires are waging the fight, but the people making $11 an hour to pour beer and get your hot dog, then clean up when you leave — people just scraping by — are going to be hit harder than any player or owner by this lockout.

The Los Angeles Times has a must-read story on this topic Wednesday, focusing on the Staples Center.

The situation is particularly acute at Staples Center in Los Angeles, because it’s home to two NBA teams, the Lakers and Clippers. While the other NBA arenas each host 41 regular-season home games a year, Staples Center has 82.

“It’s going to devastate these workers,” said Mike Garcia, president of the SEIU-United Service Workers West union, with nearly 1,000 members working at the three NBA arenas in California: Staples Center, Oracle Arena in Oakland and Power Balance Pavilion in Sacramento. “They have become very dependent on these jobs,” he said. The workers include janitors, ushers and ticket-takers who earn about $11 an hour on average.

An additional 700 food-service workers at Staples Center would be idled if Lakers and Clippers games were scrapped, said Tom Walsh, president of Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees Local 11, the workers’ union.

The article goes on to talk about the hit the owners and operators of the areas will take, too. They will. It’s harder for me to have sympathy for them, these again are huge corporations with very rich people at the head who will get by.

The arena workers have it much worse. And it’s not just them in the arena — Staples Center is across the street from an entertainment and restaurant complex called LA Live that is jumping on Lakers game nights and busy for Clippers games. The barstools fill up, the restaurants see a lot more business. You can find a similar story near every NBA arena.

Those bartenders and waitresses are going to feel the pain of this lockout far more acutely than Kobe Bryant or Derek Fisher or Blake Griffin. These guys can’t go bartend in a European league for a few months to make up the income lost. Arena workers can’t get a job at the O arena in London for a few months to make some extra cash.

The owners and players will give lip service to how badly they feel about this, about the empathy they have for those caught in the crossfire of the lockout. But their actions don’t show that same concern.

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