Sunday, July 9, 2006

We Do Welcome Guest Workers

Kings Ice CreamI was proud this week of Lewes' Tom and Chris King, owners of King's Ice Cream and a prime example of what it means to have class.

There'’s an article in Friday'’s Cape Gazette about a recent incident at King'’s Ice Cream in which patrons were not willing to be served by young women from Russia who are in our area working at Kings.

We have a large number of young people from many countries in our area each summer. We depend on them to help fill the many service jobs our summer resort economy demands. They come to us from Russia, Poland, France, the United Kingdom, and other European nations.

In this case, a patron balked at being served by someone "not an American." I hope that this particular boob was a visitor, and not one of our own. It seems likely, since people who live here are well used to waiters and counter staff with accented though usually perfectly serviceable English.

It just seems wrong to object to guest-workers in an area such as this, where the demand for vacation homes and hotel rooms has driven housing costs so high that few working people can afford to live close enough to the beach to be able to fill the many jobs needed to feed, clothe and entertain all the vacationers.

We have to have student workers. If some proportion of those workers is from other counties, we should welcome them and take advantage of an opportunity to learn more about the nations from which many of our own forbears came to America.

Tom King showed his practical side when he posted a sign in his business saying that he is proud to employ young people from Russia and hopes his patrons will join him in welcoming them to our shores.

Tom and his wife Chris showed an extra level of class, though. According to the news story, they have welcomed their workers into their home as well, giving their temporary staffers room and board in their house while they are working here.

One of the problems we face in having so many summer workers, domestic and imported, is housing them fairly and safely. Man of these young people are treated badly and taken advantage of by unscrupulous landlords.

Good for Tom and Chris King. I'm proud to have them as leaders of the Lewes business community.

Update: The story that prompted this post is now available on the Cape Gazette web site (Some customers reject foreign servers at King's Ice Cream). Also, the Tuesday edition of the paper includes a great editorial cartoon and some letters to the editor about the issue, one rather strongly worded. (Note: The two last links here will not persist past Friday, 7/14.)


karmic_jay said...

Thats a great post. It's awfully nice of them. I agree with your logic about why we need some sort og guest workers. I wonder at times what is wrong with out nation, becoming so increasingly intolerant?
I remember one of the two famous cheesesteak places (not sure which one it was), saying it would only serve those who placed their orders in good English or soemthing along those lines.
Well thats one place I would not patronize.

jason said...

Lewes is trying to be the new Georgetown? Do you have a link to that story?

karmic_jay said...

BTW the cheese steak place I was talkign about is in Philly.

Mike said...

Jay, I heard the guy who owns that shop on NPR a few weeks back. Sounded defensive.

Jason, I'm not sure I get the Geogetown reference but I can say that I don't have a link to the story. The Gazette only posts a few of their stories online.

jason said...

Isnt Sussex Central in Georgetown? I was thinking of the Dobrich story.

Mike said...

Jason, I see what you mean. The difference here is that the Indian River schools story is about religious intolerance and the Kings story is about guest workers. But you are right, there is a similarity.

I was wrong about the link, by the way. I find the story posted this morning on the Gazette site. Looks like it may have gone up yesterday.

jason said...

Thanks for the links. I like that Chris Wildt cartoon.

Nancy Willing said...

We have a situation that has precedent in many countries that doesn't make it right but it does make it expected.

The delberate infiltration (a la Reagan) of illegal and legal low-wage workers from L & S America has created this crisis of spirit.

The Hazelton, PA and Elsmere, DE law-lmaker reflection on protectionism-isolationism is also an expected reaction to our diluted quality of life.

Think Geno's in Philly and now, in Lewes, DE the story grows of how we are coping or not coping to the problems beset on communities by an overdose of "outsiders"....

Personally, I can not think of a good way to resolve the problem.

France and Germany are town countries that come to mind that have experienced violence and a "restive" populace in reaction to these immigration overloads.

Not a pretty sight, but once again, expected.

The opening of floodgates to cheap labor has resulted in the depressed quality of life and forced a stretching of services and straining of budgets. This is fact and as an unemotional, realistic truism, it should not be construed as predjudice.

A good solution should be to stop the "bleeding" and deal with what we have got at hand.....we don't have much choice.

Politakid said...

I believe the eastern Eurpoean beach workers come here through a few different programs at least partially organized by Rehoboth businesses, so I would imagine they all have the required visas.

All the ones I have encountered speak perfect English, albeit with an accent. I see no problem with it. Beach businesses enploy a very large amount of workers, I guess their just aren't enough Delaware kids to do it.

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