The Gambit Article

Here's an article The Gambit put out on the current hospitality workers' struggle here in New Orleans. We do want to clarify that the Work Week Ordinance will NOT get rid of doubles or clopenings, it will just prevent bosses from scheduling you for these types of shift without your permission. Thanks to Kat for the write up!

https://www.bestofneworleans.com/gambit/shift-change-how-new-orleans-hospitality-workers-are-organizing-their-industry/Content?oid=8783394

Don't Get Fined

Need health insurance? The “open enrollment period” for the Health Insurance Marketplace is going on now- December 15th. Now is the time to take a look at the plans that are being offered and see what kind of discounts you qualify for. If you don’t have insurance you will likely be fined by the government, so it’s definitely worth taking the time to meet with an “application counselor” for 30 minutes sometime before December 15th.


504HealthNet is a local non-profit here to help you get insured and find a primary care doctor. To arrange a time to meet with a counselor *for free*, or to get more information, please call Dani @ 504-500-7938.

John Besh & The Exposing of the Norm

The women who came forward and exposed the rape culture of the John Besh establishments exposed what is the norm for every hospitality workplace in New Orleans. It is safe to say that no one who has worked in the industry was surprised by the behavior of Besh and those in position of power. We know that sexism and rape culture, much like racism, homophobia, transphobia and other forms of oppression run rampant in the hospitality industry. 

This is just another example of how New Orleans bosses and city officials have turned a blind eye to the well-being of the workers and continues to solely be concerned with the profits that we generate. City officials should be launching a citywide investigation to end this dangerous and disgusting culture. Representatives from New Orleans hospitality labor groups and women’s groups should have a seat at the table during this investigation and should be heavily involved in this process. We demand real consequences for John Besh and the managers that fostered a misogynistic, toxic culture. He has stepped down from operations, but what does that really mean in terms of consequences? Besh still owns his restaurants and will continue to receive a fat check despite his horrifying behavior.     

Most restaurants, hotels, and bars do not have a Human Resources Department. If someone voices a concern they are ostracized, retaliated against in terms of getting less shifts, or fired. Often when there is a Human Resources Department, it is headed by those aligned with the individuals responsible for creating the hateful culture and bring about little, if any, change.     

The workers will no longer stand for an industry that fosters any form of oppressive and hateful culture. It was the workers of Besh’s establishments that organized and sought action to be taken against Besh. We are the ones with unquestionable power and agency. Things get done when we band together and hold people accountable for their wrongdoings and oppression. We’re done trying to negotiate with bosses and managers who encourage and foster racist and sexual harassment. 

Until the city does something about this abusive behavior, we will be your Human Resources Department. Contact us with your issues and know that you will receive complete confidentiality, all the say in whether or not you’d like to be involved in bringing about consequences, and will play a part in deciding what you want those consequences to look like. Restaurants, bars, and hotels will be confronted and exposed. The only way to get folks like this to listen is by hitting them where it truly hurts them—their wallets.

Hurricane Nate and All It's Exploitation

It is nearly a week after Hurricane Nate was supposed to hit New Orleans. Nate was rated as a category two hurricane and yet the bosses and city officials still forced their workers to come into work. Thankfully, nothing came about and everyone was safe. The city imposed a curfew and threatened to arrest those who stayed out past the curfew. Officials were not threatening tourists with arrest as they assured them that New Orleans was here to take care of the 40,000 tourists who remained.

What they meant by “New Orleans” was the 88,000 restaurant and hotel workers who allow this city to be the 7th most visited destination in the world. City officials called for workers to “make proper arrangements” as there would be no public transit and no taxis.  We were expected to be at work, but had no means of getting there and back. City officials not only put our lives in danger, but also our family members were also put at risk, as they were the ones responsible for driving their loved ones there and back. If Hurricane Nate had hit, many would have lost their vehicles and would have received no compensation from the city.

If we are scheduled for a shift then how can we evacuate? Evacuating and missing a shift will likely end in termination. There are many folks who say, “Well, just get a different job.” The tourism industry is New Orleans biggest industry and many are unable to get a different type of job. More importantly, the entire state of Louisiana relies on New Orleans’ tourism economy and our economy would intensely suffer without our labor.

But while we have to accept stagnant meager wages, we have to constantly accommodate for New Orleans' rising cost of living, making us barely get by living from paycheck to paycheck. A natural disaster such as this can be completely devastating to one’s livelihood. Missing out on weekend shifts cuts heavily into one’s paycheck and many workers are facing the financial consequences of Hurricane Nate. Front of house workers would have been making $2.13 an hour and back of house workers would be making a measly hourly amount somewhere between $7.25 and $13 during this natural disaster. The New Orleans hospitality industry generated a total of $7.4 billion dollars last year and restaurant and hotel owners can definitely afford to issue Natural Disaster Pay for situations like this. Owners should close their restaurants and hotels when hurricanes come to town and they should pay workers who were scheduled to work.

We are constantly being exploited and when a natural disaster hits this exploitation is much more intense. There could have been many tragedies and losses if Hurricane Nate had hit and restaurant and hotel owners along with city officials who allowed for their opening would have been to blame.

Open Meeting

We are having an open meeting for those who are currently in the industry and would like to learn more about the movement and how to get involved. The meeting will be held at the Peoples' Assembly Office at 1418 N. Claiborne Street on Monday September 25th at 7pm.

Please send us an email if you have any questions on the meeting. Thanks and hope to see ya there.

Our First Rally/March

Our first rally/march was a huge success. Although we are on the smaller side now, our numbers will grow as this movement is essential to the people of New Orleans. Thank you to all those who came out and showed support.

Check out this article on how things went down: https://www.bestofneworleans.com/thelatest/archives/2017/09/16/at-rally-and-march-new-orleans-service-industry-workers-call-for-better-treatment

New Orleans Peoples' Assembly & NOHWC

We are a branch off of the New Orleans Peoples' Assembly and are dedicated to organizing the workers of New Orleans. We believe that the organization of workers will directly benefit our communities and our work places. We work closely with the Peoples' Assembly to make this 10 Point Platform a reality. The Peoples' Assembly acknowledges that the 88,000 restaurant and hotel workers make up a huge percentage of the population and that the hospitality industry is an essential part of the economy. Two points of the 10 Point Platform directly support our ongoing struggle with the RTA and our Hospitality Workers Bill of Rights. Check out the 10 Point Platform below and come out on September 2nd!

1) Year-long Jobs, Recreation, Mental Health Services for Youth and Adults, and an Adult Public Jobs Program of at least 10,000 Public Jobs with Livable wages of NO less than $15/hour

2) Rent Control and a Roll Back on Taxes, Pre-Katrina Levels for Households Under $75,000

3) 100% Funded Relocation of Gordon Plaza Residents Who Live on Life Threatening Toxic Land that is too Dangerous for Human Life. Most Environmental Issues are Human Made and Must Be Corrected and Prevented

4) “The Hospitality Workers Bill of Rights” to be City Approved and Honored in Practice

5) Full Funding and Building of 40,000 Homes for Former Residents of New Orleans Pushed Out of the City by the Aftermath of Katrina

6) Fully Funded, Quality Community Controlled Public Schools

7) Improved and Timely 24 Hour RTA Bus Routes, especially in New Orleans East and Algiers, with Improved Bus Stops that Provide Adequate Seating and Protection from Inclement Weather, Along Pot-hole Free Streets

8) Full Funding or Building of 100 (24 Hour) Community Based Child Care Centers Across the City

9) New Orleans to Serve as Official Sanctuary City, so that ALL Residents Are Safe from ALL Forms of State Sanctioned Violence, or Deportations, and Where Traffic/Profiling Cameras Are Abolished

10) Full Accountability (Includes Consent Decree) for ALL Police Who Operate in Orleans Parish

Disproving the Lies of Council Members and RTA Officials

Today committee members attended the Transportation and Airport Committee meeting at City Hall. On the agenda was an update of the RTA's Strategic Mobility Plan. 

Committee members spoke about the serious need for more buses that run every fifteen minutes, an increase in overnight service, geographic expansion of the bus service, and a shuttle service for downtown workers. We also spoke on the RTA's failure with last week's Hospital and Hospitality Mobility Focus Sessions. We demanded that the Mobility Plan focus not just on tourists, but on the workers of New Orleans whose quality of life suffers because of poor public transit.

We asked how restaurant and hotel workers generated $7 billion dollars in revenue last year, yet Louisiana has the highest incarceration rate in the world and a public school system that ranks as one of the lowest in the country? The money is clearly there, but is not being allocated towards the betterment of our families and communities. 

One committee member pointed out that for each hour spent by parents waiting for public transit is an hour not spent with their children. 

Council Member, James Austin Gray II, claimed that our statement on the ranking of New Orleans public schools is unfounded and not true. RTA Vice President, Justin Augustine, claimed that buses coming every fifteen minutes is a luxury that no city enjoys. 

Buses come every fifteen minutes in cities across the US, and, really, in cities across the world. Louisiana is ranked as having one of the worst public school systems in the country and below are links with the information to prove it. Several committee members have lived in other cities and have relied on the public bus system within those cities. Below you will find a link to show how every buses every fifteen minutes is, in no way, unrealistic.  

Public Education Links:
https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/rankings
http://www.edweek.org/media/qualitycounts2016_release.pdf

Philadelphia Bus Schedule: http://www.septa.org/schedules/bus/

Work Week Ordinance

We are fighting to demand New Orleans City Council & Mayor Landrieu to pass the Work Week Ordinance. We need your support! Hit the link to sign our petition: https://www.change.org/p/the-new-orleans-hospitality-worker…


There are 88,000 hospitality workers and families in New Orleans. The whole city depends upon our labor. We bring in $7 billion a year in revenue for the corporations. The city does everything for the corporations, but nothing for the workers or our communities. It is time for the city to enact laws to protect hospitality workers. Enough is enough—there is too much inequality in our city. Lifting hospitality workers helps all of our communities.


Therefore, We the Residents of Orleans Parish Demand:


To: The City Council and Mayor Adopt the Work Week Ordinance.


This ordinance, in varying forms, has been passed in multiple cities including Seattle, San Francisco, Emeryville, San Jose, Washington D.C., and New York City.


The ordinance recognizes that hospitality workers need to know when they are working to properly schedule childcare, appointments, transportation, and school.


It is in the general interest of the entire city that the health of service workers be protected and that workers who are ill are not forced to work.


It is also in the interest of the entire city that parents have stable employment and enables parents to provide stability for their children.


Work Week Ordinance:


Specifically, we call for the passage of the following Worker and Community Work Week Ordinance to apply to all places of employment:


1. Requirement of all employers to provide a work schedule 14 days in advance.
2. Should employers ask an employee to change days worked or alter the schedule that is posted an employee may voluntarily accept or reject the offer without retaliation.
3. Should the employee voluntarily accept the schedule change without 14 days’ notice, the employee will be paid a $100 premium for doing so.
4. Employers shall not schedule workers without a 12-hour rest period between shifts.
5. Employers shall not schedule workers to shift from day to night without the worker’s consent.
6. All workers shall receive 12 paid sick days a year.
7. Employers shall consider the need for parents to attend meetings with teachers or counselors as in the interest of the entire city and shall not refuse employee’s request or a scheduling change.
8. Pregnant workers who an perform their duties shall not be subjected to harassment to leave and shall be guaranteed reemployment at an equal job when able to return to work.
9. A commission shall be created to adjudicate claims.
10. If found guilty of violating the ordinance, employers shall make employee whole and be fined $1,000 for the first offense, $2,000 for the second, and $5,000 for any subsequent offenses.

A Small Victory!

Every victory must be celebrated!


The RTA has agreed to start the Night Owl at 2am instead of 1am, giving workers an additional hour to take their normal bus routes to the East (note that the Night Owl consolidates three bus routes into one).


In addition, they changed the bus routes at night so that the Elysian Fields bus (#55) links up to the Broad Street bus (#94). This is a more viable option for workers in the French Quarter who must commute to the East.


We are happy that some workers are able to get home a little faster, but will continue to fight until the following demands are met:


1.) We need buses that come every fifteen minutes day and night.
2.) We need more routes and for these routes to be geographically expanded. Stop consolidating the routes at night.
3.) We need more bus stops in the downtown area or free shuttle services so that people do not have to walk a long distance, take a taxi, or have to get rides from friends and family.
4.) We need a response time for when you will get back to us with a revised plan that meets the needs of hospitality workers.

Transportation and Airport Committee Meeting Demonstration

Yesterday's demonstration at the Transportation and Airport Committee meeting went as well as to be expected. The committee reacted similarly to the way in which the RTA reacted- thanking us for sharing and offering to meet with some committee members.

 We feel as though the meetings will play out the same as they have with the RTA and that our demands will be labeled as 'unrealistic' and claims that funds are unavailable. 

With New Orleans being the 7th tourist destination in the world and with hospitality workers generating $7 billion in 2016, we know that the funds are there. We will get the public transit we need and deserve.

Below you will find the statement read at yesterday's meeting and the follow up demands sent via email to council members Jared Brosset, James Gray, Susan Guidry, Nadine Ramsey, and Jason Rogers Williams. All meetings and interactions will be on public record.

Statement:
I am speaking today on behalf of the New Orleans Hospitality Workers Committee and the 88,000 restaurant and hotel workers that hold up the city of New Orleans. The current public transit system in New Orleans is a disgrace. The infrequency of the buses and lack of bus stops force workers to walk up to twenty-five minutes and typically create a commute of one to three hours. 
Restaurant workers are often both in uniform and carrying cash—making us feel vulnerable and unsafe. We are sick and tired of a transit system that only caters to tourists. The $75 million Rampart streetcar line was merely a move to expand the downtown area. The streetcar line actually decreased the accessibility workers have to their place of employment because there are less streetcar stops than the previous bus stops along Rampart.
New Orleans natives are being forced further and further out of central New Orleans due to rising rent prices and gentrification. Specifically, many Black folks have been pushed out to the East, Algiers, and the West Bank. The extremely poor public transit that y’all provide to these areas reflects your lack of concern for the Black community. This, without a doubt, is a civil rights issue. 
One of our committee members faces a three-hour commute when getting off work past 12am. He has to walk for twenty-five minutes in uniform just to catch the Night Owl, which only comes on the hour and consolidates three routes into one. He will often get off the bus early and walk twenty minutes to his home in Little Woods to cut his commute time by an hour and a half. This is a 24/7 city and y’all must efficient 24/7 public transit. 
As you may or may not be aware of, we have been bringing these issues to the attention to the RTA and attempting to work with them to correct these failings. The RTA recently conducted a field study where they attempted to walk in the shoes of a hospitality worker. Three RTA officials, five committee members, and a RIDE employee walked for twenty-five minutes in order to catch the Night Owl. RTA officials failed to ride out the entire route and got off when our committee member got off early to cut his commute time by an hour and a half. The RTA officials said things such as, “we can’t control that you don’t know exactly what time you’ll get off work” and “there aren’t enough riders for these buses to be more frequent.” They then concluded that we weren’t aware of all the options for late night travel to the East, even though all of their options were not nearly efficient enough. 
Low ridership indicates poor public transit. Many workers arrange for family members and significant others to take them to and from work or spend money on Uber/taxis because of the long commute time and because of there being absolutely no inexpensive place to park. What is the explanation for the streetcars being able to run at all hours of the night with a very low amount of riders? The RTA may not be in control of the inconsistent schedules of all hospitality workers, but they can control their ability to provide buses that work with the scheduling of the 88,0000 hospitality workers.
The RTA cries about a lack of funds and points their fingers in your direction and I’m sure y’all will do the same. It is not an issue of lack of funds, but an issue of prioritizing. New Orleans is the 7th tourist destination in the world and restaurant and hotel workers generated $7 billion in revenue last year. The money is there. 
We are also aware a bill awaiting Gov. John Bel Edwards' signature would allow the RTA to form public-private partnerships for facilities projects. We understand that the RTA, appointed by the Mayor and under state law, is a non elected board created to float loans in order to avoid the legal cap on indebtedness although the public is obligated to repayment of loan. Why would we, the public, pay for something that does nothing for us? How is it that we generated $7 billion last year yet Louisiana has the highest incarceration rate in the world and one of the worst public school systems in the country? We demand that this money goes back into the community and one way of doing this is providing acceptable public transit.
These are our demands:

        1.) We need buses that come every fifteen minutes day and night.
        2.) We need more routes and for these routes to be geographically expanded. Stop consolidating the routes at night.
        3.) We need more bus stops in the downtown area or free shuttle services so that people do not have to walk a long distance, take a taxi, or have to get rides from friends and family.
        4.) We need a response time for when you will get back to us with a revised plan that meets the needs of hospitality workers.


Email:
Good Afternoon-

Attached you’ll find the statement that members of the New Orleans Hospitality Workers Committee read during yesterday’s Transportation and Airport Committee meeting. 

Our four demands are included in the document. We expect all of our demands to be met in a timely manner, but the following needs to be met by the next Transportation and Airport Committee meeting on July 17th: 

1. Return the Night Owl to its regular routes. This means you will no longer consolidate three routes into one. 
2. Extend the hours/frequency of the Night Owl between 12am-2am and 4am-6am.  

We understand that you all cannot meet with us at one time. Please respond with possible times to meet and discuss what y'all can do to make public transit serve the 88,000 hospitality workers of New Orleans. 

Thanks,
The New Orleans Hospitality Workers Committee

RTA Ride Along Report

Below you will find a report on the RTA Ride Along that went down last week. We wanted RTA officials to experience the three hour commute of late night New Orleans workers who live in the East.


Four members of the New Orleans Hospitality Workers Committee met with three RTA members at 11:45pm on Wednesday May 10th at the corner of Esplanade and Frenchmen Street. This ride along/field study had been discussed since our first initial meeting with the RTA and we had made it clear that this was an opportunity for RTA officials to experience the commute of a hospitality worker who works downtown and must take the Night Owl to get to their home in the East. 
We had said from the beginning that we wanted RTA officials to experience a twenty-five minute walk that one of our committee members has to take every single day to get to his bus stop at Elk Place and Canal Street. Hospitality workers have to walk twenty-five minutes after a long shift where you never have a chance to sit and we wanted to do our best for RTA officials to feel this pain. However, as soon as we arrived to meet RTA officials they attempted to opt out of walking by suggesting to take a near by bus and transferring. Walking to Elk Place and Canal would be faster than taking the suggested transfers of RTA officials. After a long shift, every worker is looking for the fastest route home. 
RTA officials made it clear that if we had chosen to walk to Elk Place and Canal Street to catch the Night Owl that it would be just that—a choice. This was frustrating because walking twenty to twenty-five minutes is not a choice for hospitality workers. RTA officials took advantage that we chose a meeting location near a bus stop and attempted to ignore our demand of walking and then taking the Night Owl. Taking the Night Owl was a critical aspect of this ride along as the Night Owl consolidates three routes into one route and only runs on the hours, making the commute for one of our committee members three hours. This is not a choice and not acceptable. 
RTA officials also showed annoyance at us being a few minutes late. This was also frustrating for as a hospitality worker, you never know exactly what time you be leaving work. You only have a rough estimate of the time you will be leaving and sometimes you miss the bus because of this. We also wanted RTA officials to understand this. 
We ended up missing the bus that RTA officials urged us to take instead of taking the original plan of action. We walked to Elk Place and Canal Street and the Night Owl arrived at 1:07am and the bus left at 1:20am so that it could wait for more riders. We were on our way to Little Woods, where one of committee members lives. In order to cut his commute time, he got out at the intersection of Crowder and Lake Forest and walked twenty minutes to his home in his uniform. This was at 2:20am. If the committee member chose to ride the route instead of walking twenty minutes to his home, it would have taken an hour and a half more.
Along the walk, RTA officials said things like, “The fact that you don’t know what time you’ll be getting out of work is a factor out of our control.” This is true, but a factor the RTA can control is having buses come every fifteen minutes so that workers can have a faster commute. Another factor the RTA can control is having more bus stops so that workers do not have to walk such a far distance, adding time to their commute. 
The RTA officials also pointed out how there weren’t that many riders on the Night Owl and that more buses with no riders would lose them money. The street cars run all night with very little riders, so how is that acceptable but more buses is not? It costs $130 to add a bus to the road. That is not a lot of money to spend towards the wellbeing of the 88,000 hospitality workers that allow this city to function. Many hospitality workers have friends and family pick them up from work, spend money on parking, or spend money on a taxi or Uber to get home. We are sure that after conducting hundreds of surveys that workers would take public transit if it were more efficient and reliable. 
RTA officials did note that is was unacceptable for our committee member to have to get off and walk twenty minutes in the night in order to cut down his commute time by an hour and a half. 
 

Radio Premiere

Last Thursday we had the privilege of being featured on the Conscious Hour with Chuck Perkins on WBOK 1230 AM. Hit the link and fast forward to an hour in to hear about our movement.


https://soundcloud.com/the-conscious-hour-with-c/conscious-hour-5-4-17

Report on RTA Meeting 4.18.17

On Tuesday April 18 the New Orleans Hospitality Workers Committee sent 4 representatives to meet with several RTA officials about the bad transportation service that so many hospitality workers and New Orleans East residents have to rely on. Among the officials that we met with were the Head of Public Information, the Director of Operations, the Chief Operating Officer, and the Chief Strategy Officer. It was clear that these officials came into the meeting thinking that we would passively let them talk down to us about how much we don't know about public transit in our city. From the outset, we made it clear that not only do we know as much as we need to, but that we also only wanted to discuss the concrete ways that the RTA is solving this transportation problem.
    Despite their repeated efforts to shift the goalposts of the discussion and to blame other entities besides themselves for the bad situation, they did admit that the situation needs improvement for riders living in The East and Algiers. They also admitted that they can get money for tourist projects like the airport improvement and the Ramparts street car. They say that they're monitoring the situation, but it only takes a little communication with the late-night riders to understand that the situation is unacceptable. They did report that they are in the early stages of developing a shuttle-like system for workers downtown, but they think that improvement can wait a year while they go through their bureaucratic channels.
    In the end, they agreed to 4 things:
        1.) To come with us to physically experience the hardship of walking 25+ minutes to a bus stop only to have to wait another hour for your 2-hour long bus ride to arrive.
        2.) To incorporate hospitality workers in the process of getting this shuttle system for NO East and Algiers riders.
        3.) To review the results of the hundreds of surveys that we've conducted with riders.
        4.) To send us the reports that they did when they we're originally developing the inadequate system that exists today.

    These are all small measures, and we are not satisfied or optimistic that any improvement will happen unless workers and residents strongly pressure them to act. The need for much better service is very real, and we will continue to organize around it no matter what pretty words these officials utter. 
    Join us at City Hall at 10 am on April 25th to voice our dissatisfaction and our demand for improvement to the City's Transportation Committee. Our demands are:

        1.) We need buses that come every fifteen minutes day and night.
        2.) We need more routes and for these routes to be geographically expanded. Stop consolidating the routes at night.
        3.) We need more bus stops in the downtown area or free shuttle services so that people do not have to walk a long distance, take a taxi, or have to get rides from friends and family.
        4.) We need a response time for when you will get back to us with a revised strategic plan that meets the needs of hospitality workers.

Solidarity,
New Orleans Hospitality Workers Committee

Media Coverage of RTA Demonstration

Our demonstration demanding more reliable, frequent buses at the RTA facility on March 28th, 2017 received news coverage from The Times-Picayune and WDSU Channel 6. Click the links below to check it out, but don't forget to read our report as well (located on this page in another post). 

WDSU Channel 6: http://www.wdsu.com/article/push-for-more-bus-routes-and-expanded-times-to-new-orleans-east/9198855

The Times-Picayune: http://www.nola.com/politics/index.ssf/2017/03/workers_bus_routes_rta_new_orl.html

RTA Demonstration Demanding Better Buses

We, the members of The New Orleans Hospitality Worker Committee, attended the RTA’s public meeting on the morning of March 28th to demand more frequent and reliable buses between the French Quarter and New Orleans East. We brought up the issue of the Night Owl, the bus that runs between the Quarter and the East after 12am, taking riders an average of three hours to get home. There is only one stop for riders to access, located at Elk Place and Canal Street. At the end of their shift, hospitality workers from all over the French Quarter and CBD are required to walk a great distance to stop, and then wait, sometimes for up to an hour, for a bus to bring them home.

We came to the meeting to raise our concerns in a civil manner. However, once it became clear how the board meeting agenda had clearly shifted in a way to silence the concerns of our committee, we decided to take a stand. We got up from our chairs, waved our banners, and voiced our issues.  We were then forced out of the room. Those of us who didn't need to rush to work—to do the work required to keep this city’s tourism sector alive—were allowed to return to make public comments.

Committee member, Peter, a restaurant worker from the East, explained that after midnight, three bus routes turn into just one so, it often takes him three hours to get home after work. “Or,” he told the RTA board members, “I can get off and do a 45 minute walk, which isn't the safest thing at that time... I just think that something needs to be changed.” Another committee member, Lita, told the board, “There need to be more frequent buses and more buses stop. There should also be shuttles throughout the Quarter taking hospitality workers to and from their place of employment to their transit stop or car.” Gavrielle, another committee member, reminded the board members that,  “88,000 hospitality workers and their families make up half the population of this city, yet public transportation is only concerned with the image it presents to this city’s tourists. Imagine a day without hospitality workers.” I think we all are aware, a day without hospitality workers would bring New Orleans to an absolute standstill.

We need to realize that New Orleans, as a city, should consult its hospitality workers often regarding matters of transportation. We are its life force, and we cannot continue to carry this city without proper and safe options for public transportation. Workers are walking targets as they are typically dressed in uniform and are often carrying cash.

Budgeting is prioritizing, and the money for safer, more frequent bus service between the Quarter and the East, Algiers, and the West Bank is clearly there. If the city can use taxpayers’ money to both build a new streetcar line for the French Quarter and its tourists, they can also afford to provide safe, frequent buses to those workers in the East who spend all evening parking cars and bussing dishes.   It should also be clear that the poor public transit in between these areas of the city is a civil rights issue. Rising rent prices and gentrification continues to push New Orleans natives, especially its black citizens, further and further out of the city.