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Chew on this

As the Metro Times was getting ready to go to press on Monday, cafeteria workers at the Ameritech facility in downtown Detroit were preparing to hit the streets in protest. Like a lot of working people these days, the rising tide of our record-breaking economy isn’t doing much to lift their little rowboats. Instead, things keep sinking. Case in point: When phone company giant Ameritech hired an outfit called Aramark Corp. to run its food services in 1998, unionized cafeteria workers couldn’t reach an agreement with their new boss. As a result, they lost many of their seniority rights as well as company-provided life insurance and other benefits.

In a recent letter, union stewards Sherry Williams and Vernetta Chester-Harp drew attention to the situation, saying, "We really earn less than a living wage. We have no sick days and people come to work sick because they can’t afford to miss a day’s pay or to go to a doctor, because we have no health insurance coverage for ourselves or family members."

Though the mainstream media rarely take notice, actions like this are an almost daily occurrence. Laundry workers. Stadium ushers. Hospital employees. All are feeling the squeeze, having more and more difficulty making ends meet. The tide may indeed be rising, but mostly it’s the yachts that are riding high.

Ann Mullen contributed to News Hits, which is edited by Curt Guyette. He can be reached at 313-202-8004 or

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