BP Gulf Oil Disaster NAACP Investigation DAY III—Houma, Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana

In Houma, in Terrebonne Parish, I met with Jerome Boykin, NAACP Branch President of Terrebonne Parish.  He talked about the complaints/concerns he has fielded, particularly from people engaged in clean-up efforts.  Jerome connected me with one woman, “Mary” who had been trained along with several other women. Day after day while male acquaintances of hers were all called for jobs, neither her, nor her female acquaintances were called.  Jerome called and spoke with the contractor who was managing the clean-up efforts about the concern around gender based discrimination. Mary and her friends were called the next day and placed on work crews.

Another person, “Tom” she shared his experiences on the clean-up crew. He stated that they are “messing up checks and not giving us all of our hours”.  Tom also said he had been working for 12 days straight with no days off. He said that they had been told that there is no guarantee that their spot will be open if they take any days off. So he doggedly continues. Tom’s days are tough because he has to report to the “staging area” at 5am to sign in. At 5:30am they leave and they start working at 7am and then sign out at 5:30pm.  Plus, the work they do is arduous to say the least with toting boom all day in the heat. They are provided with water and Gatorade, but otherwise they are charged what she sees as exorbitant costs for the only available food provided by the caterer contracted by the worksite, $10 for lunch.

Another worker, “Peter” shares concerns about the racial disparities in worker placement. He states that out of the 400-500 people on the worksite, 99% are black, 1% are white. The handful of white workers are largely supervisors and “they are not loading boom.”

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