As NBA lockout drags on, the forgotten casualties are the arena workers

The Takeaway

Story from The Takeaway. Listen to the above audio for a complete report.

Tuesday would have been first day of NBA season, and there are no signs that the impasse between owners and players will resolve their differences.

In fact, NBA Commissioner David Stern said there is now “no hope” for a full NBA season. When and if the two sides resolve their differences, they’d only play a shortened season — if there’s a season at all.

But it’s not just players and owners who are suffering through this lockout. The NBA supports jobs for thousands of others, both inside and outside the organizations.

Scott George runs the Community Food and Outreach Center in Orlando, and he’s seen an influx of workers who’ve been laid off from jobs at the arena or at restaurants near the Orlando Magic’s home, the Amway Center.

“We’re getting a lot of families who have been affected by this lockout. They’re starting to come in waves. Families that are really struggling, they’re looking for help,” George said. “They didn’t do anything to deserve this.”

George’s organization will help people with their electric bills, so they can keep their lights on. They’ll also provide food, counseling, education and other services to help the working poor get back on their feet.

Plus, with Thanksgiving and Christmas approaching, the outreach center is gearing up to provide a Thanksgiving dinner care package for families and even to provide toys for children at Christmas.

“Billionaire owners are fighting with millionaire players,” George said. “The forgotten workers are the men and women who greet you when you come to the arena. They take your ticket. They serve you. They clean up after you leave. And now they’re out of a job.”

But George said his clients are too worried about where their next meal or their children’s Christmas presents will from, to worry about who to blame. They just want the situation resolved, so they can get their jobs back.

George said his organization has been serving more than 300 people per day since the lockout started. Estimates are that 1500 people are employed directly with gameday activities, and countless others are impacted by the crowds not turning out to watch the games.

George said he’s hoping the Orlando community will rally behind the workers and help his organization help them.

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“The Takeaway” is a national morning news program, delivering the news and analysis you need to catch up, start your day, and prepare for what’s ahead. The show is a co-production of WNYC and PRI, in editorial collaboration with the BBC, The New York Times Radio, and WGBH.

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