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AP mentions illegal aliens doing rebuilding in negative sense

The AP reports on the Davis-Bacon reinstatement in "Bush administration to reinstate prevailing wages on Katrina contracts" by David Hammer. There, way, way, way down in the 14th paragraph, comes a slight bit of truth:

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

They're actually illegal aliens, but we congratulate the AP on offering a slight bit of truth to their readers.

"Labor's Hurricane George"

From Froma Harrop:

New Orleans offers a quick study of Bush labor policy in action: On Aug. 29, Hurricane Katrina strikes, causing widespread destruction. Four days later, President Bush commits $10.1 billion of the taxpayers' money to rebuilding New Orleans. Four days after that, he suspends the Davis-Bacon Act - the law that requires federal contractors to pay workers the going local rate.
Illegal immigrants, willing to work at less-than-prevailing wages, stream into New Orleans. And a mere six weeks after the last evacuee leaves the Superdome, we hear of complaints by illegal workers that employers are stiffing them of their meager pay.
So here you have it, a lesson on how to crush the market for blue-collar labor. And it could have been done in four PowerPoint slides...
There's only one sane explanation of why Bush would try to lower wages in a tight labor market: He intended all along to flood the market with cheap foreign workers.
It's a simple setup: (1) Get rid of Davis-Bacon, so contractors can offer below-market pay that Americans and legal immigrants won't touch; (2) continue to disregard the law that forbids companies to hire undocumented workers; (3) when people complain that the workers restoring New Orleans are not legal, say that they are taking jobs no American wants.
The one price that may never rise, in the Bush mindset, is the price of labor. Companies must cope with rising costs for energy, drugs or land. If they can't deal with it, they go out of business. But cheap labor is somehow an entitlement...

And, the Dems will say hardly a word about any of this.

Eased out of the Big Easy

From 10/4's Eased out of the Big Easy from Jesse Jackson:

After his administration's incompetence and indifference had lethal consequences in Katrina's wake, President Bush has been scrambling to regain his footing. He's called for an "unprecedented response to an unprecedented crisis." In religious services at the National Cathedral, he called on America to "erase this legacy of racism" exposed by those abandoned in Katrina's wake. He's called on Congress to appropriate more than $60 billion in emergency relief and outlined a recovery program likely to cost up to $200 billion, or nearly as much as the Iraq War.
All this has led the press to compare his plans to Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal or Lyndon Johnson's Great Society. Don't fall for it. A close look at the Bush plan reveals that this is a bad deal from a deck stacked against the poor who suffered the most in Katrina's wake.
[Davis-Bacon suspension, Alphonso Jackson of HUD's remarks,]
...The people of the 9th Ward are the maids and waiters who serve New Orleans tourists. They are the musicians who give the city its blues. They are the cops and government clerks who are struggling to bring the city back. Half of the houses there are owned, not rentals. Many of these workers are dispersed -- dispatched to over 40 states. Many still are in shelters.
No one could figure out why the Bush administration wouldn't give the evacuees housing vouchers to rent housing in and around New Orleans. Instead, FEMA has ordered tens of thousands of trailers and is struggling to build trailer parks -- Bushvilles -- to shelve Katrina's victims...

They are distributing vouchers; please enter facts and figures on that in the comments.

Now we know. Bush's isn't planning urban renewal, he's planning urban removal. The administration has given the victims of Katrina a one-way ticket out with no plan for their return. Instead, the planners will turn New Orleans into a gentrified theme park. They'll rebuild the white communities -- even those like middle-class Gentilly and wealthy Lakeview that are as prone to severe flooding as the 9th Ward.
Congress should insist that Katrina's victims have a right to return -- and FEMA should develop a plan to make their return possible. They should have preference for the jobs that will be created in rebuilding the city. They should be provided vouchers to use for nearby housing. If necessary, local military bases should be opened, with public transportation to get them to and from work. They should be paid the prevailing wage, with decent health-care benefits. The people of the 9th Ward should decide the fate of their homes, not urban planners intent on building a New Orleans without its black people. If their neighborhoods are not rebuilt, then affordable and public housing should be built in other parts of New Orleans...

Public housing? This would be a wonderful opportunity for an American president to try to lift NO's poor out of their previous poverty cycle, while at the same time allowing them to return to their city. That's going to require money, intelligent thinking, and a pro-American president. The first we have, but the last two are lacking.

AFL-CIO: "Workers Win Fair Wages as Bush Backs off Davis-Bacon Suspension"

From the AFL-CIO comes AFL-CIO News: Workers Win Fair Wages as Bush Backs off Davis-Bacon Suspension:

In response to working families and their unions, as well as community and religious groups and some members of Congress, President George W. Bush on Oct. 26 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.
Grassroots activists sent more than 350,000 e-mails and letters to their representatives demanding fair wages be reinstated for the Gulf Coast, where skilled, full-time workers average less than $20,000 a year in pay.
One of Bush's first acts after Hurricane Katrina hit was suspending Davis-Bacon. Enacted in 1931, Davis-Bacon ensures high-quality work standards and community prevailing wage requirements for federally funded rebuilding projects. A few days after suspending Davis-Bacon, Bush also suspended affirmative action rules for Katrina contractors.

Oddly enough, I don't see anything there about Bush also allowing contractors to hire anyone regardless of immigration status. In fact, other than the LA Dems, no other Dems are complaining about that.
Yet, all those illegal aliens will serve to reduce wages for American hurricane victims, and will just serve as a backdoor way for major contractors to screw American workers. So, why doesn't the AFL-CIO say anything about that? Why don't those politicians who complained about this say anything? Are they afraid that MALDEF will call them "mean-spirited"? Don't worry, scared Dems. Here, I'll hold your hand as you try to reach down deep inside for that last little speck of patriotism.

Teddy Kennedy introduces "Rebuild with Respect Act"

Senator Teddy Kennedy offers the following statement while introducing the "Rebuild with Respect Act":

Hurricanes Katrina and Rita exposed the silent slavery of poverty for all of America to see. There's no excuse for ignoring what so obviously needs to be done to achieve genuine equality and basic fairness in this country. We know we're a stronger country when we're a fairer country and the crisis on the Gulf Coast has given us a chance to move closer to that goal.
Yet, the Bush Administration's response to the crisis has been fundamentally unfair. They have awarded billions of dollars in contracts to many of their corporate friends. Yet they also took the harsh step denying fair wages to workers implementing the contracts. They have allowed their no-bid contractors to ignore safety protections and exploit undocumented workers. They have cut off emergency aid, at a time when many are still struggling to survive. These responses reflect the misguided priorities that have become the indelible hallmark of this Administration.
Sadly, our Republican colleagues in Congress share the Administration's misguided priorities. Instead of finding ways to meet the needs of the hardworking Americans affected by Katrina and Rita, they are focusing on their proposal to grant over $70 billion in new tax cuts for millionaires...

This Act would:

# Allow Gulf Coast families to rebuild their own communities by requiring all recipients of federal disaster relief funds to employ individuals displaced from jobs or residences by Katrina and Rita and ensuring that federal contracts go to local businesses in the Gulf Coast region.
# Ensure that workers who have lost everything do not lose fair wages, too, by reinstating the protections of the Davis-Bacon Act for workers in the construction industry.
# Recognize and address the racial inequalities that have sparked national outcry by requiring contractors receiving federal disaster relief funds to fully comply with all affirmative action requirements applicable under law.
# Ensure that the federal contracting process is fair to small and disadvantaged businesses.
# Protect the health and safety of recovery and reconstruction workers and volunteers in the Gulf Coast region by requiring federal agencies to develop a coordinated health and safety plan that includes safety training, needed equipment, and monitoring of safety conditions.
# Provide economic security for those who have difficulty finding jobs by providing an emergency extension of unemployment insurance benefits and expanding eligibility for the Disaster Unemployment Assistance program.

Despite the bold move of mentioning "undocumented workers" (in reality they're called "illegal aliens"), there's nothing in there about enforcing the immigration laws against those who employ said workers.

AFL-CIO, Jesse Jackson to demand jobs, justice October 29

From our comrades at

Gulf Coast union leaders hailed an action campaign launched by the AFL-CIO Sept. 30 to defend workers' wages and rebuild their hurricane-torn states while turning the nation in a new direction that puts "people before profits."
Julie Cherry, assistant to Louis Reine, secretary-treasurer of the Louisiana AFL-CIO, said the labor movement will stage a rally on the Capitol steps in Baton Rouge on Oct. 29 to press the campaign's demands, outlined in a statement, "America Needs a New Direction: Good Jobs, Stronger Communities and a Just Economy." Speakers will include AFL-CIO President John Sweeney, Rainbow/PUSH Coalition President Jesse Jackson and leaders of the NAACP.
"The demand will be fairness in rebuilding Louisiana and the Gulf Coast," Cherry continued. "It is abominable that Bush would suspend the Davis-Bacon prevailing wage act, take people in their darkest hour and crush them down a little lower. Louisiana is already at the low end of the wage scale and they would push us down even more."
Rebuilding, she said, "fortunately, or unfortunately, will be an opportunity to make money. We just want to make sure it is done fairly, that people who lost so much get jobs rebuilding at decent wages."

Oddly enough, there is nothing in there about the single biggest impediment to higher wages: cheap foreign labor flooding into the city. Maybe they'll learn they can't have it both ways before it's too late.

10/5: Bubba visits, feels peoples' pain

On October 5, former president Bill Clinton visited Louisiana on a fact-finding tour and made these points among others:
- give rebuilding jobs to those affected, not out-of-state firms: For long-term work, Clinton said it's important to "hire people from Louisiana even if they have to be retrained."
- repeal the suspension of Davis-Bacon
- "We need to do something to try to recover the wetlands... We have let a lot of those wetlands go."
Previously: Bubba blasts Bush over Katrina, poverty, lack of omnipotence…

More on Davis-Bacon

The post here links to the following:
PDF file
And, "Davis-Bacon Suspension and Its Legislative Aftermath [Order Code RS22288] (October 3, 2005)" available from here.

The Fair Wages for Hurricane Victims Act

Rep. Raul Grijalva has sponsored the Fair Wages for Hurricane Victims Act, which would block Bush's suspension of the Davis-Bacon Act. While certainly of interest, nothing that this Democratic representative does should not be reported without also noting that he's a proud former member of the racial separatist group MEChA. That group wants to "liberate" the U.S. southwest and turn it into a Chicano homeland.

S.F. Chronicle pimps illegal laborers working in unsafe conditions

Like a reverse The Jungle, the "liberals" at the S.F. Chronicle have a Page 1 "Special to The Chronicle" report from Eliza Barclay entitled "As locals struggle, migrants find work in New Orleans":

Two weeks ago, Geremias Lopez was picking grapes near Bakersfield, but when he saw an advertisement on Univision, the nation's largest Spanish-language television network, for work on the Gulf Coast, he and a friend called the 1-800 number flashing on the screen and were soon aboard a Greyhound bus headed east.
Lopez and the 80-some other Mexican and Honduran immigrants in his crew are now earning $100 a day covering torn and mangled roofs with blue tarps until the roofs can be re-shingled and restored to some semblance of what they looked like before Hurricane Katrina struck six weeks ago.

Now, you might want to read up on how much your federal government is overpaying for those roofing jobs.

For New Orleans residents, most of whom have yet to return, life remains very hard, and very uncertain. But for Lopez and his migrant workmates, it's a noticeable improvement over their minimum-wage jobs as California fruit pickers or as poultry processors in Arkansas.

"Minimum-wage" to me implies some form of legal framework. Is he here legally?

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.
In addition, President Bush suspended application in the Katrina-affected region of the 1931 Davis-Bacon Act, under which employers must pay prevailing wage rates on federally financed construction projects -- in order, Bush said, to "permit the employment of thousands of additional individuals."


The Louisiana Department of Labor says it has received requests from contractors to certify 500 illegal migrants. Agency officials estimate that the actual number of illegal migrants already working for contractors is far higher, because many employers are not bothering with the paperwork.
This is adding to the unhappiness of local contractors trying to re-establish their own businesses and hire local workers, after being evacuated or otherwise losing their ability to operate for weeks.
"The local people can't participate in their own recovery," said Jack Donahue, whose Mandeville, La.-based firm Donahue Favret Contractors Inc. specializes in such construction tasks as sheetrock and flooring removal and mold remediation.
Part of the problem, Donahue said, is that local construction workers scattered during the evacuation and are just beginning to come back. Many are returning to destroyed or severely damaged homes and have discovered that the hotels in the region are full of out-of-state workers, including migrants.

Now, the S.F. Chronicle's "migrants" are sleeping, several to a room, in a "dank" motel room that had been flooded. Someone else says, "It's also much better to be in a hotel instead of the outdoor camps where we were getting bit by mosquitoes."
Finally, the SFC lets us in on a little truth:

Of the 80-some roofers in Lopez and Morillo's motel, few are legal residents or possess temporary work visas, according to Morillo. Rarely was their immigration status an issue in their hiring.

It goes on, but somehow I think the SFC should do a gut check and remember which country they're living in.


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