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Before Games, Workers Win a Big Event

Before Games, Workers Win a Big Event

Tuesday, March 20, 2012
The New York Times

LONDON — Enveloped in a warm, glimmering haze, the Olympic Stadium looks like a vast, silvery spaceship come to unlikely rest in the working-class East End.  Our viewing platform is no less unlikely. I’m standing with Lina Jamoul, a community organizer, at the top of a giant new shopping mall. It feels as though someone in Santa Monica should file a claim for grand-theft mall. Brutal, despairing riots swept across the ancient working-class neighborhoods near here less than a year ago, and vast public dollars devoted to sport could appear grotesque.  Except that Ms. Jamoul and her fellow thousands with the East London Communities Organization have turned these games into a triumph. In a few months, as tourists descend on these neighborhoods, every Briton working inside the Olympic perimeter, including tea fetchers and souvenir shop workers, will make wages worth about $4 an hour above this country’s minimum wage.