Big Easy Leaders Upset Over Cleanup Jobs

Discussion in 'Current Events' started by -Cp, Oct 7, 2005.

  1. -Cp

    -Cp Senior Member

    Sep 23, 2004
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    LOL like their black community is really gonna WORK and help clean up...?

    NEW ORLEANS (AP) - They clear rotten seafood from stinking restaurant freezers, wash excrement from the floors of the Superdome, rip out wads of soaked insulation. The work is hot, nasty and critical to the recovery of New Orleans.

    And yet, many of the workers are not actually from New Orleans.

    Many of those engaged in the huge cleanup and reconstruction effort here - nobody has an exact count - are immigrants, both legal and illegal, from Mexico and Central America.

    Meanwhile, as many as 80,000 New Orleanians sit idle in shelters around the country. They are out of work, homeless and destitute.

    That irks some civic and union leaders.

    "I've got nothing against our Hispanic brothers, but we have a whole lot of skilled laborers in shelters that could be doing this work," said Oliver Thomas, president of the City Council. "We could put a whole lot of money in the pockets of New Orleanians by doing this reconstruction work."

    Roman Feher, an organizer with the Laborers Union, said: "It's really a shame. We're trying to get people back on their feet. The last thing we need is contractors bringing people in from out of state."

    Mayor Ray Nagin added his voice to the chorus this week, telling local business people: "How do I ensure that New Orleans is not overrun by Mexican workers?"

    At the same time, interviews with some Katrina refugees suggest New Orleanians are in no big hurry to return for these jobs. In fact, many Katrina refugees have been landing jobs in communities around the country.

    "Other guys out here in Houston and other areas of the state, we have better opportunities to make money here," New Orleans truck driver Wayne Cousin said at a refugee shelter in Houston.

    The situation in New Orleans is part of a controversial pattern seen across the country: Immigrants are often willing to do the dirty jobs many Americans won't take.

    Sen. David Vitter, R-La., and Rep. William Jefferson, a Democrat who represents much of New Orleans, said they are trying to pressure federal authorities to ensure that government cleanup contracts use Louisiana labor. But private companies are free to hire outsiders, and state officials say they are powerless to do more than urge local hiring.

    "Our position is, we want these businesses to hire Louisiana people first," said Ed Pratt, a spokesman for the Louisiana Labor Department. "If they are hiring out-of-state Hispanics, we can't control that."

    The contractors insist they would be happy to hire locals but cite practical difficulties.

    "When so many millions have evacuated, it's kind of hard to get people to return," said Pete Bell, the owner of Cotton, a Houston-based disaster recovery business that has more than 500 workers cleaning out hotels and restaurants.

    On Friday, the Rev. Jesse Jackson decried the lack of local labor taking part in the cleanup and said his Rainbow/PUSH Coalition planned to bus 600 residents from shelters around the country back to New Orleans to be matched with jobs and housing.

    The caravan is to depart Monday from Chicago and travel to shelters in St. Louis, Memphis, Jackson, Miss., and Mobile, Ala. It should arrive in New Orleans on Tuesday. Jackson said residents will be housed in hotels and trailers and on military bases and would get help obtaining construction and service jobs.

    Labor investigators say that many of the workers in New Orleans are illegal immigrants who are being exploited and subjected to harsh living and working conditions.

    An investigator with the Laborers Union, Rafael Duran, said that outside the New Orleans Arena, he had encountered Mexican teenagers perhaps 15 or 16 years old who had been removing excrement-fouled carpets.

    While some cleanup workers in New Orleans are staying in hotels, Duran said the teenagers on the carpet-removal job told him they were sleeping in a field under a tent, and had gotten bitten by mosquitoes.

    Duran said the laborers had been brought in by Rainbow International Restoration and Cleaning of Waco, Texas. A Rainbow franchise owner leading cleanup efforts in New Orleans, Vincent Beedle, said the workers had been brought in by a subcontractor that was supposed to obey all laws.

    Outside a French Quarter restaurant, four Hispanic workers were taking a break from clearing 1,000 pounds of rotten shrimp from the freezer. The men, dripping with sweat, were wearing only jeans and T-shirts.

    "You can just drive down the street and see people not dressed properly," Feher said. He said the workers cleaning the restaurants should have worn protective suits, rubber boots, rubber gloves and respirators.

    The crew's New Jersey employer, Patrick Jones, said he provides protective gear for his workers as required by law, and "if I'm on the site they have to have it on." But he added: "I wasn't there."

    Advocates said the lack of protective gear is leading to health problems. Juan Alvarez, director of the Latin American Organization for Immigrant Rights in Houston, said he recently took five or six workers to the hospital after they complained of respiratory problems and diarrhea upon their return from New Orleans.
  2. dilloduck

    dilloduck Diamond Member

    May 8, 2004
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    Austin, TX
    This was quite predictable--in fact I think I predicted it.
    Our temporary labor force has been cut more than half directly due to hispanics going to LA. I saw on the news where the biggest problem contractors are having is getting labor. They showed where some folks had lined up for work.--MANY HISPANICS--A FEW WHITES--NO BLACKS. Ya ya--I know it was just one line but lets face facts folks.
  3. rcajun90

    rcajun90 Member

    Jul 7, 2005
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    New Orleans, Louisiana
    I know very many hard working African Americans. This is that project culture from out the 60's that kept New Orleans stuck in a time warp. I'm not accusing you of being a racist. But that throw me something Mr. Government extended to a lot of white people down here. The demographics of the city was as unique as the city itself. You could have a rich white area and go a few blocks down and find a poor mostly balck area. My wife which is white and a lawyer has an uncle that is in his 70's and has never had a real job in his life. I had hoped that people can change and that would be especially true under these circumstances and in a new enviroment. I know of many wealthy soccer moms from this area that might have to actually try to find jobs. So many people that thought their lives were set in New Orleans with high paying jobs that are now taking food stamps. I went down to my home town today of Grand Chenier. A man in his 80's that had built a nice house and worked hard all his life is now accepting food stamps because that town is simply gone. In fact from what I saw, Rita did more damage then Katrina.
    He was busy working on his home with his family salvaging what he could. He
    hated the fact that he was now reduced to accepting food stamps. Do we ask people from Thiland or Pakistan all these questions when giving aid? There's a whole lot of good people down here working very hard to get their lives in order.

    Sorry. I know I kind of derailed the thread but I've had two hurricanes that have messed me up. We need to stop talking about us and them and start simply talking about us. Americans! Some of you guys have hurt and angered me greatly with your posts. There are many good hard working and tax payer
    Americans down here that need you help. Don't believe everything you see on TV. There are people living in Orleans Parish right now with their lights on and I hope getting back to work. The so called "fish bowl" area was only a small part of the city. The French Quater, parts of Metairie, Algiers and Belle
    Chasse never got any water. Sorry I'm ranting and it's not at you Dilio. This was just a horrific month in Louisiana. I hope no other American metro area or region will ever go through this.

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