For Immediate Release //Please Excuse Cross Posting
November 4th 2016
Contact: Armando Carmona, firstname.lastname@example.org, (323) 250-3018
Day Laborer Network to Support Baton Rouge Reconstruction Efforts
**The Brigade will arrive in New Orleans on Monday November 7th and will work until November 21st 2016. Participants will be available for comment and interviews.
Los Angeles, CA– On Monday, the day laborer network announced the creation of the “Safe Reconstruction Works Brigade” that will travel to Baton Rouge to support workers assisting in local reconstruction efforts. The brigade consists of day laborers, organizers and trainers who are authorized to provide Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) trainings to workers.
In August, Baton Rouge faced historic levels of rainfall that resulted in devastating flooding. The communities most affected are populated by people of color. According to local government reports, over 53,000 residential houses and 3,800 commercial buildings have been affected by the immense flooding. Many of the workers involved in the cleanup process are immigrant laborers who reside in New Orleans (only an hour away) and are subcontracted by medium sized or larger employers, as well as homeowners.
“The devastating disaster in Baton Rouge provides unique opportunities and challenges to do right with the environment, residents and workers”” said Omar Henriquez, coordinator of the Brigade. “the people doing the clean up an reconstruction work are low income and immigrant laborers. In collaboration and with the assistance of our partners we’ll make sure that workers are trained to do the the job without risking their safety and health” he concluded.
For two weeks, the Brigade will focus on training workers around Health & Safety issues in construction sites, will host a series of “know your rights” works, and alert workers on labor violations common for day laborers. The Brigade is part of an ongoing effort to strengthen the role of day laborer organizing and the impact of worker centers in response to local disaster relief and reconstruction efforts.
As the occurrence of these catastrophic events becomes more frequent worker centers will have an important role to play in response and relief efforts. Not only have workers been central to reconstruction efforts, but in many cases they have been emergency responders. By training day laborers as first responders to recognize and mitigate the common dangers that arise after a disaster, the poor communities that bear the brunt of climate change will become more resilient. Those workers and their communities will be prepared for the superstorm, wildfires, rising floodwaters and extreme droughts to come.
“Day laborers have been at the forefront of rebuilding American cities affected by natural disasters. After hurricane Katrina and Sandy it was day laborers who were cleaning up and leading reconstruction efforts” said Cal Soto, Workers Rights coordinator for NDLON. “We now realize that many workers had little knowledge of the risks involved with flood cleanup. From contaminated floodwater, or electrical and fire hazards, the lack of information and training puts their lives at risk. Our trainings will help change that” he concluded.
El Congreso de Jornaleros, which is a part of the New Orleans Worker Center for Racial Justice Alliance is leading local efforts. The trainings are being supported by Consulado de Mexico en New Orleans and Propeller. In Baton Rouge, there is direct support by the Catholic Charities, the Archdiocese of Baton Rouge, el Apostolado Hispano, El Centro Biblico and El Colibri.