"It’s heartbreaking to see how quickly this happened and how much people are already hurting," says Rev. Alexia Salvatierra, who leads a group assisting low-wage and undocumented workers that have been laid off in the post-Sept. 11 service industry slump. Churches around the country are opening "worker relief centers" to aid the growing number of workers suffering the economic aftershocks of the terrorist attacks.
The Hotel and Restaurant International Employees Union estimates that nearly 100,000 of its members, most of whom are low-wage immigrant workers, have either lost their jobs or had their hours cut as tourism plummets. Washington, D.C. officials say nearly 40 percent of the jobs in the hospitality industry have been eliminated or cut back. Rev. Salvatierra’s church in Santa Monica, California, is working with local unions to provide food, job counseling, and pastoral care to those in need.