Three-Day Journal from July 7-9 Gulf Region Tour

Three-Day Journal forDOL Officials' Tour of Gulf Region July 7 - 9, 2010

Deputy Administrator Nancy Leppink, Director of Intergovernmental Affairs Elmy Bermejo, Director Pat Shiu and Jane Oates speak to fishers, displaced workers and concerned citizens affected by the oil disaster, during a visit to the Career Solutions One-Stop Center in Gretna, LA.

Day One (Wednesday, July 7): The group met with local leaders in New Orleans including: Deputy Mayor Greg St. Etienne, Advisor to the Mayor for Economic Development Aimee Quirk, Director of Job 1 Program Brian Moore and City Attorney Nanette Jolivette-Brown. The officials later met with displaced workers including Vietnamese and African American fishers, crabbers and oyster harvesters in Gretna and Pheonix, La. to hear about their struggles and barriers finding local contract work and other jobs, especially due to language and cultural barriers. The DOL delegation next met with local labor leaders and community-based organizations about how to better communicate, coordinate and inform the public of the numerous resources available to announce local job and contracting opportunities, fair wages and worker protections. “People need work and we’re here to communicate to these hurting communities that we have valuable resources including job training opportunities and job postings available to them through our One Stop system,” said ETA Assistant Secretary Oates. “Through the support of our state and local workforce system, we can make our resources known more rapidly and serve these communities most effectively.”

OFCCP Director Pat Shiu, Wage and Hour Deputy Administrator Nancy Leppink, and ETA Assistant Secretary Jane Oates speak to affected fishers and shrimpers from the Asian and Pacific American community during a meeting at the Public Dock in Biloxi, MS.

Day Two (Thursday, July 8): The delegation met with fishers and crabbers in Biloxi and Gulfport, Miss. to hear their concerns and learned that language, gender and cultural discrimination is a common barrier that fishers and dislocated workers are facing while searching for new jobs. The group later met with local community based organizations in a local one-stop center and attended a local Oil Spill Resource and Claims Fair to research information being made available for affected workers. The day concluded with a visit to Coden, Ala. where local fishers and business owners outlined the domino affect that the loss of local jobs is taking on their community. “It’s clear that these local communities are seeking our support so we’re here to personally inform them about their rights to ensure they receive fair wages for their hard-earned hours at work, now and in the future,” said Wage and Hour Deputy Administrator Leppink.

The DOL delegation meets with local elected officials, business leaders and community based organizations in Pensacola, FL at Workforce Escarosa, Inc. to hear their concerns and issues.

Day Three (Friday, July 9): The final leg of the trip concluded in Pensacola, Fla. where the DOL leadership met with state appointed and elected officials, community based organizations and representatives from the hospitality industry to learn about their concerns and plans to boost economic opportunities for the affected fishing and other business communities. “This is an economic, cultural and environmental disaster of great magnitude, but one of our missions during this visit was to ensure that hard working communities in the Gulf States must be treated fairly and without discrimination when looking for new and existing work opportunities,” said OFCCP Director Shiu.