"“We have lent a huge amount of money to the U.S. Of course we are concerned about the safety of our assets. To be honest, I am definitely a little worried.” "

Chinese premier Wen Jiabao 12th March 2009

""We have a financial system that is run by private shareholders, managed by private institutions, and we'd like to do our best to preserve that system."

Timothy Geithner US Secretary of the Treasury, previously President of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.1/3/2009

Thursday, June 08, 2006

NOLA rebuilt by illegal Hispanics - undocumented , unprotected, exploited abused - by richest nation in world as it heals itself.

Researchers at the Payson Center for International Development and Technology Transfer at Tulane University and the International Human Rights Law Clinic and the Human Rights Center at the University of California, Berkeley have released a study today ..

Rebuilding After Katrina: A Population-Based Study of Labor and Human Rights in New Orleans This reveals (surprise surpise) that undocumented (illegal) workers are being abused , including severely reduced access to health care, wage discrepancy and unsafe working conditions.

The costliest disater in American history and it relies on the poor, unprotected and the illegal.

The study found that almost half of the reconstruction workforce in New Orleans is Latino, and 54 % of that group is undocumented, meaning 25 %of all workers are undocumented (illegal) Latinos.

After the storm, the federal government allowed special waivers of immigration laws, which made it easier for employers to hire undocumented workers. Two-thirds of Latino construction workers have moved to the area since Katrina hit in 2005. But 87 percent of the undocumented workers were already living in the United States before they moved to New Orleans. This means that Hurricanes Katrina and Rita did not cause an influx of illegal immigrants across the US border as many have reported.

"Once these workers were in the city, they were not adequately protected by workplace regulations," said Phuong N. Pham, assistant professor of the Payson Center of Tulane University.
"We cannot have it both ways" he says, " either we enforce immigration laws effectively and prevent illegal immigrants from working, or we allow them to work and provide them with the same labor, safety and health protections afforded documented workers." "Reconstruction after natural disasters exposes workers to some of the worst on-the-job hazards in situations where services, especially access to health care, are scarce. Public officials at all levels - federal, state, and local - need to strengthen monitoring and enforcement of worker health and safety protections," said Laurel Fletcher, a Clinical Professor of Law at UC Berkeley's School of Law.
The study, Rebuilding After Katrina: A Population-Based Study of Labor and Human Rights in New Orleans, finds:

- On average, documented workers received significantly higher wages than undocumented workers peforming the same work ($16.50 per hour average for documented vs. $10 per hour for undocumented.).

- Construction workers frequently report experiencing problems receiving wages owed, especially undocumented workers.

- Workers reported working with harmful substances (29 percent) and in dangerous conditions (27 percent) while 19 percent said they were not given any protective equipment for dangerous work.

- Only 9 percent of undocumented workers have health insurance compared to 55 percent of documented workers. 83 percent of documented workers said they received medications when needed compared to 38 percent of undocumented workers.

During March 2006, researchers interviewed 25 key informants including legal advocates, social service providers, community activists, health care providers, business leaders, policymakers, representatives of minority and immigrant groups, and representatives of federal, state, and local government agencies in Louisiana and Mississippi. Other important findings include:

- Protective equipment generally is available but insufficient, especially for undocumented workers. The random survey data indicates undocumented workers possess equipment less frequently (72 percent) than documented workers (84 percent).

- Post-disaster clean-up and construction work often exposes laborers to health risks due to working in unsanitary and dangerous conditions. However, awareness among undocumented workers of risk related to mold (38 percent), asbestos (36 percent) and unsafe buildings (19 percent) is significantly lower than among documented workers, respectively 67 percent (mold), 65 percent (asbestos) and 59 percent (unsafe buildings).

Among the construction workers who report health problems, a little more than one- quarter (27 percent) sought medical treatment. The disparity between documented and undocumented workers is striking: 33 percent of documented workers sought treatment for a medical problem while only 10 percent of undocumented reported seeking such treatment.

Davis - Bacon act introduced Sept 8th rescinded November 4th 2005

Claiming that the costs to rebuild areas destroyed by Hurricane Katrina would be too high if prevailing wage laws remain in effect, President Bush issued an executive order, on September 8, setting aside the Davis-Bacon Act in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi.

The Davis-Bacon law provides for federal contractors to pay workers wages equivalent to the prevailing rates on new construction of buildings, roads, bridges and other infrastructure. The act was passed during the Great Depression to restrain employers from taking advantage of poor economic conditions to drive the wages of construction workers down.

Senator George Miller, D-Cal., said, "The administration is using the devastation of Hurricane Katrina to cut the wages of people desperately trying to rebuild their lives and their communities."

Thirty-seven House Republicans urged the White House to reverse the suspension, and Rep. George Miller led unanimous opposition by Democrats to the president’s suspension.

Senator George Miller, D-Cal., said, "

The administration is using the devastation of Hurricane Katrina to cut the wages of people desperately trying to rebuild their lives and their communities.

Sens. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., and Mary Landrieu, D-La., said a Democratic Policy Committee hearing they held earlier in October had an impact by highlighting abuses of the wage law suspension. In some cases, contractors were hiring undocumented workers, they said.

Miller forced a showdown on the Davis-Bacon suspension by using an unprecedented parliamentary procedure under the National Emergencies Act to introduce a resolution to restore Bush’s Gulf Coast pay cut (H.J. Res. 69). Under the law, the House would have been required to vote on Miller’s resolution no later than Nov. 4—a vote many observers believed workers would have won.

"You may save a couple of dollars an hour by suspending Davis-Bacon, but you invite all kinds of other problems—including the hiring of unskilled workers." LaTourette and Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-N.J.), co-chairs of the Republican Working Group on Labor, spearheaded a letter to Bush signed by 37 Republicans calling for the reinstatement of the prevailing wage rules and suggesting the Nov. 8 date. AFLCIO story here

On Oct. 26 Bush rescinded his executive order that allowed contractors to pay substandard wages to construction workers rebuilding Gulf Coast areas devastated by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The order, which suspended the federal Davis-Bacon Act, now will expire Nov. 8.


Nobody can say this was done in secret SFGate .com had a story Oct. 12th 2005 ... "
They and Latino immigrants from all over the United States have been flocking to the region, often working for out-of-state companies which received the initial round of cleanup contracts.

Recognizing the demand for migrant labor, and to help speed reconstruction in the areas devastated by Hurricane Katrina, the Department of Homeland Security temporarily suspended rules mandating employers to prove that workers they hire are citizens or have a legal right to work in the United States."

Hispanic Connection Inc., a Baton Rouge-based agency that recruits Latino laborers from abroad through the H2B temporary visa program, has been flooded with requests for laborers since the two hurricanes hit, said director Maria Edwards etc., etc.,

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