Overlooked workers finally heard

Tuesday, June 15
June 15, 2010
Thursday, June 17
June 17, 2010
Tuesday, June 15
June 15, 2010
Thursday, June 17
June 17, 2010

The race for the limited employment available for fisherman continues around the oil-slicked Gulf, and many Vietnamese workers find themselves left far behind with little to no financial compensation.


Local Vietnamese fishermen from all over south Louisiana and Mississippi gathered last Wednesday at the Terrebonne Career Solutions Center to voice their employment concerns to U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis.

“One of the reasons I wanted to meet with the Vietnamese community was because we had a roundtable with the Asian-Pacific Islander community, and one of the major issues that came up was the fact that people weren’t getting information in their language, so this is a big priority for me and the Department of Labor,” Solis said.


The fishermen present at the meeting shared the same concern – the lack of communication from BP after pursuing training sessions that were supposed to give them work. Many of these fishermen had applied the first day work became available, and would hear nothing afterward.


Interpreters helped convey the fishermens’ concerns.

“That is a concern that has been brought to our attention, and our executive director is very sensitive to the issue,” said Lynn Dias-Button, spokesperson for the Louisiana Workforce Commission (LWC).


“We’ve made repeated requests to BP over the past few weeks for information on this very issue,” said Curt Eysink, LWC executive director.


“We’ve been promised the information on who has been hired, and have been assured that BP is working on it, but we have yet to receive it. The Attorney General has also requested information on hiring from BP that has not yet been turned over.”

According to Dias-Button, LWC will do what it can to help workers find employment as oil spill work becomes available.

“We are encouraging these people to register with our programs online, or we have mobile locations in Grand Isle and Cut Off,” she said. “They can come any time of the day.”

If work is still scarce, self-employed workers should file claims with BP, according to Dias-Button.

“They should file a claim with BP, because BP has made assurances that they will be paying people for their lost income,” Dias-Button said.

The lost income also includes the highly priced equipment workers have invested in, hoping for a lucrative fishing season, but much of it has been destroyed by the oil. Crabbers buoys have melted away from the oil, resulting in expensive traps being lost at the bottom of the Gulf.

Solis acknowledged the costly damages, and assured workers that she will do her best to find a resolve.

“This is very important for me, I represented the Asian population over the last 20 years, so I feel I have a personal relationship and commitment, and now I’m bringing that to the department of labor,” Solis said.

Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis speaks to Vietnamese fishermen about attaining jobs through BP to help with the oil spill cleanup. * Photo by JENNA FARMER