We need to back higher wages for service workers

To the editor:

I recently spent several days in Jasper’s Memorial Hospital. I was in the emergency room, critical care unit and regular medical unit. I received very caring attention and treatment by everyone.

We moved here in August of 1975 and I delivered our second son at Memorial that October. It was a much smaller place then!

Since then, I have used the services of the cancer center, surgery, fifth floor and outpatient surgery.

The size of Memorial never “dawned on me” until this recent stay.

In 1975, woodworking and manufacturing were big businesses. Jasper still has plenty of that. But, Memorial Hospital is a very major employer, not just of Dubois County residents. Several of their nurses, CNAs, laboratory workers, therapists, housecleaning staff, laundry workers, maintenance staff and office personnel drive from nearby counties. Some work two jobs, maybe both here, or one in another town.

We expect good service at Memorial. Americans expect to receive good health care. The food service there is extensive — dietitians, cooks, servers, clean up people. They serve the patients, their many employees and visitors. The general public also has access to the cafeteria. Their food is delivered to the patients in a timely manner. Memorial serves good-tasting food!

Unlike when my husband and I married, Americans also expect to be able to easily find an affordable place to buy food out. We are a country of “service industries” now. However, many restaurant employees also work two jobs. Is this out of need? I expect so.

Question: Are we paying these individuals enough money on which to live in exchange for the services which we expect from them?

We need to realize manufacturing is not the main way people derive their livelihood today. Nor are all CNAs, cleaning personnel or restaurant workers looking for a “real job.”

The jobs these people have at hospitals and restaurants are the “real jobs.” We need to make sure they want to keep those jobs and provide those important services to us. We need to back higher wages for service workers.

—Jenny LaGrange

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