On Labor Day, workers want politicians to know the only word that matters: ‘job’

Rock Hill HeraldSeptember 4, 2012 

Politicians the next few days in Charlotte, 23 miles from the kitchen at Jackson’s Cafeteria, will talk endlessly about the economy. The party will be different, but it will sound just like Republicans a week before in Florida.

All claim to be for workers, what politicians call the “middle class” or the “working class” or whatever term they use when talking about somebody who works on their feet all day.

These people in suits, Democrats, who claim to be the party of the working man, will talk about being all for small businesses and what is best.

The other side, the Republicans, who also claim to be for the working stiff and even more for the businessman, did the same thing last week in Florida.

Nobody mentioned any of those politicians or policy advisors or bureaucrats on Sunday, the day before Labor Day, at Jackson’s Cafeteria in Rock Hill. This place has been in business 35 years, serves as many as 700 on a busy Sunday after church, and the words that echoed through the serving line of more than a dozen people hustling a living was, “I need three peach cobblers!”

Because the real world that people live in, the workers and even the small business owner, has nothing to do with these politicians who talk about working people but see right past them.

The working world is making a living, period, whether politicians say the economy is going up, down or anything else.

The workers at Jackson’s Sunday sweated at steamy dish sinks, carried heavy trays, carved meat, cleaned tables, mopped floors and smiled the whole time while making less money in a day than a politician spends for cab fare in Charlotte.

“You treat your customers right, you treat the employees good and decent, that’s how you make it,” said Ronnie Jackson, the owner. Jackson did not speak from the convention, or from any party for the 15,000 media who claim to be covering the real working class of America at this convention while drinking free booze and eating free food and only talking to each other.

Somewhere a blogger will claim: “I only got three chicken fingers,” and the world of Social Media will go abuzz and somebody who works for a living will get stiffed on a tip, and thousands will say this is news. Jackson spoke from the dish room – the floor slippery and the steam over everything and the workers hustling – because the dishes had to get washed to serve that line of customers that pays the bills and the salaries and the benefits of his workers. Hopefully, when it is all over, Jackson has made a few bucks.

Jackson has not been invited to this convention and said he probably wouldn’t go even if he were invited. If the Republicans had invited him, Jackson would probably have said, “No, thanks,” to them, too.

Jackson has given away thousands of meals over the years to the hungry, sponsored uncountable charitable activities and employed hundreds of people.

He needs no politician to tell him about how to run a small business.“The way I look at it is, I hope that whoever comes in does the best job for people like me who run a business, but also for the people who work here and the people who come here,” Jackson said. “Nothing political about that.”

Not ‘talking about me

’But surely these Democrats in Charlotte will talk about the economy, and claim to have created so many jobs since President Barack Obama took over. That claim will fall on deaf ears for people like waitress C.C. Childers, who said she is a Republican but her real party is “work.” Her kids are grown but her grandkids are small, and Sunday meant work.

“I doubt those people up there in Charlotte talking about the economy care about me,” said Childers. “No, they won’t be talking about me.”

Dishwashers Antoine Frazier and Stephen Dixon said they are Democrats and hope the Democrats care about them. Both had to stop talking because the dishes piled up, and no politicians will wash a single dish anywhere this week. Sydney Carr, 18 and ready to vote for the first time, said she is a Democrat and, “I hope the Democrats care about me.”

Then, she had to stop talking because somebody needed more beans and her job on the serving line on the Sunday before Labor Day is serving food. Destinee Yarborough, another line server, tried to talk about politics for a few seconds but the place was too busy.

“I gotta get my job done,” she said.

The only word in politics that matters is that word: job.

Certainly Republicans claimed in Florida last week that if elected, they will create the jobs. Unemployment in York County has hovered anywhere from 10 to 15 percent during the past five years of the recession and crummy economy, with Chester and Lancaster worse.

Ronnie Jackson had about 30 people working Sunday, every one of them thankful to be there after a recession that hit the working stiff a lot harder than it hit any politician.

“The last three, four years, I have had a lot more people looking for work than I have room for,” Jackson said. “They ask for one thing – a job.”

That’s the economy speech no politicians will give, either.

On Labor Day, many of the almost 10,000 delegates will stream into Charlotte for the convention through late Thursday. The word “jobs” will be used so much by people who are being served by those with jobs.

The word “jobs” will be used by those who are planning to go to places like Jackson’s Cafeteria, and other places, to look for work on Tuesday after the holiday. The first workday of the week is always the heaviest for applicants.Except at Jackson’s, like so many small businesses, Labor Day is not a holiday.

“We’re open Labor Day,” Ronnie Jackson said.

And on Labor Day, Jackson the owner will work, and so many of those workers will go in to work, without political speeches, hustling for a dollar to pay the bills.

“My party is the working party,” cook Como Pratt said. “I’m for the party that keeps me in a job. I just work. That other stuff is just a lot of talk.”One of the dishwashers, William Channell, 27, said he belongs to neither political party.

“I’ll tell you what I belong to, what I support, that’s having two kids I have to support,” said Channell. “I support them.”

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