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Fired bartenders picket Hi-Joy

"Bartender Jaylinn Youngker discovered she had been fired from Hi Joy Bowl when she showed up to start her shift at 8 a.m. Jan. 10 and found someone else there opening the lounge.And Youngker wasn't the only one: three other bartenders at Hi Joy picked up their last checks Jan. 10, too. They said they have been barred from re-entering the establishment until customers get used to the replacement new crew.In response, former bartenders Youngker, Amelia Kesler, Annette Anderson and Karen Adams and a slough of patrons picketed the business Jan. 12 and 13 to protest the sudden loss of their jobs.In a chilly rain Friday night, a dozen or so picketers held signs near the Bethel Circle and waved at passing cars. Motorists slowed and honked their support.Why were they fired?I don't know. I was not given a reason, said Youngker, who worked at Hi Joy eight years and was the lounge manager for three.Kesler also discovered she had been fired Wednesday. My reason, from (manager) Emmy King, is that we were too much of a clique, she said.Youngker said she heard the same excuse. We got along with each other and covered each other and they didn't like that. I thought that's what made a good team, she said.On Jan. 10, the former bartenders picked up their final paychecks outside in the parking lot.Manager Jackie Havill said she could not comment specifically to the reasons the four were fired, but agreed there was an element of cliquishness that had a negative impact on the business. She defended Hi Joy's action against the former bartenders. No one has ever been fired for doing a good job, she said. They're out there telling people that; there's no truth to that.She added there are 70 employees working at Hi Joy; some have been there 30 years. The four who were let go would say there's no job security, Havill said. Anyone in business knows it's hard to find good, honest people.But some customers said they were stunned the bartenders were fired.Tony Adams, a Hi Joy Bowl patron and five-year league member, said he won't be going into the bowling alley anymore. I'm outraged at the ethics of the management, so much so that I've withdrawn all the money I contribute here, he said. I bowl in leagues here ... I'm going elsewhere.Patron Lee McOmber also expressed disappointment in the bowling alley's management. McOmber has been bowling at Hi Joy since it was 12 lanes, he said.I've known (owner) Tom Myers about 20 years. I watched his family grow up in this bowling establishment. In that 20 years, I've never seen him do anything so irrational, especially when customers are so happy with the service, he said.He added the new crew of bartenders didn't cut it the day the old line-up was fired. Wednesday, service was very bad. The bartenders were unable to keep up with the flow. I feel the establishment is losing money by not having the efficient service of the (former bartenders) working, he said.Bartender Adams looked dismayed as she stood outside Jan. 12 with her coworkers. She worked at Hi Joy eight years, becoming a bartender a year-and-a-half ago. She said she's not sure what she's going to do now that she's been fired. I gotta go straight to work. I got three little girls to take care of. This was my only income, she said. I just can't believe they did this to all of us because we're a clique. We get along. I don't see where there was a clique. Every department takes care of each other. I don't understand, she said.She lamented the loss of the rapport the bartenders had with their customers. We called it our Cheers bar, she added, referring to the popular television program. Everyone could come in and relax.She and her daughter, Bridgett, started performing karaoke awhile back and customers liked it, she said. She added Hi Joy management fired Bridgett, too. They didn't even tell us thank you, she said.Vicky McOmber, a Hi Joy patron, agreed the bowling alley was a comfortable place for her and her husband to relax. When my husband and I want a night out, we come and visit with our friends. They took away our place to visit. I'll never go in there again.She helped organize the picket Friday after hearing the bartenders had been fired. If people do something wrong, then they deserve to be fired, she said. But being friendly is not one of those things. This is our way of letting people know. It's not fair. "

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