NBA Lockout Means Lost Wages for Service Employees

"It's the small man that actually is taking the hit in all this, the talks that are going on"

By Toni Guinyard and Bill French
|  Tuesday, Nov 15, 2011  |  Updated 7:53 AM PDT
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The effect of the NBA Lockout goes way beyond wealthy owners and well-paid athletes

Toni Guinyard and Sean Browning

The effect of the NBA Lockout goes way beyond wealthy owners and well-paid athletes

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At the L.A.Live complex, fans cheered Monday night for stars at the Twilight  movie premier, while  many others quietly  booed the slow death of the NBA season.

"We're kind of over it," said Amy Ramskill, who cheers for both the Lakers and the Clippers, and works downtown. "There's a lot of eye rolls. We're starting to think, do we need basketball? Of course, we love basketball."

Service workers who depend on the business basketball attracts are complaining about the financial hit. And now it looks like their complaining will go on for quite awhile.

"I've actually been here for six years as an usher," said Demek Emmons, an arena worker. "It's the small man that actually is taking the hit in all this, the talks that are going on."

Negotiations went nowhere Monday. The player's association rejected a league offer for a new labor deal.

NBA Commissioner David Stern said of the talks: "Nuclear winter" is coming. The stalemate was just another indication that the 2011-12 season is in jeopardy.

And, that will have ripple effects for anyone who depends on the games for income.

"We're talking about the custodial workers, the ushers, the ticket-takers," said David Huerta, Vice President of the Service Employees International Union, United Service Workers West. "You know, the folks that you see every day when you're coming up those aisles, and the folks that are cleaning up when you leave and when you come here."

In the shadow of Staples Center, restaurants and bars are empty, taxis are idle and parking attendants have little to do. There's no basketball, and there's no business.

"They cut my hours," said Miguel Fernandez, from New Zealand Natural Ice Cream and Yogurt.  "The manager that we had here actually had to leave in order to give the hours to us. And now he's working here maybe two days a week."

"People are going to start to get very desperate very soon," said Huerta. "They're already desperate now. It's only going to get worse if this thing goes on throughout the whole year and they cancel the season."

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