Saturday, October 31, 2020

Letter to the Editor: Senator Wicker, Please Help

By John Currence
Oxford Restauranteur 

Dear Senator Wicker,

As a result of having closed our businesses for public safety reasons Tuesday, I have advised 300 employees in Oxford, Mississippi that immediately filing for unemployment is the most prudent thing they can do for themselves in order to stay afloat during this time. As you know, I have been serving meals in Oxford for almost 30 years.

These folks are like family. They have sacrificed time with their loved ones, have missed birthdays, recitals, holidays, anniversaries and have been unfailingly loyal and honest to me. I am godfather to some of their children. A dozen of those people I had to let go yesterday have worked for me for over 25 years, a hundred of them over a decade. It is as awful a decision as I have ever been forced to make. I was reduced to tears.

There are about 4,900 other people like me out there in the state that will have to tell another 121,000 employees the same thing I told my staff today. A 75% drop in business will hit those collective businesses to the tune of about $75 million dollars per week. And this is just Mississippi.

Hospitality needs your help, Senator. We need a champion. When we can open our doors again, I know you are going to be one of the first folks at the table at your favorite spot, but without help, survival looks more and more out of reach with each passing hour.

We need a stimulus plan. As quickly as action was taken to help the airline industry, we are not insignificant. Restaurant and food service workers make up 10% of the American workforce. As businesses we make up a full 4% of the American economic output.

I implore you, Senator Wicker, be our champion. I know how much you like a good meal. Help us survive this unimaginable chaos.