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Published: Sep 21, 2005
Author: Rob Sanchez
Post Date: 2005-09-21 16:32:45 by Budweiser

by Rob Sanchez
September 21, 2005 No. 1333

In parts 1-3 of this series I wrote about how the Bush administration is using hurricane Katrina for an excuse to roll back labor laws and regulations. The intention of their legal maneuverings are transparent attempts to allow employers to hire illegal aliens and to pay them substandard wages.

Just when I thought things couldn't get worse I learned on Lou Dobbs that on September 9th the Department of Labor exempted government contractors from having to file affirmative action plans. Winners of some of the most lucrative rebuilding contracts will now be able to hire large numbers of Mexican nationals while avoiding legal hassles from groups like the NAACP. Employers now know that it's open season to discriminate against American workers.

You can view the DOL announcement at either of these two links. The DOL link seems to be very slow. ... 9-9-05.pdf


NOTE: The name of the website that posted the DOL notice seems very appropriate to the occasion!

Here is a revised list of the chicanery that has been going on as of late. When all of these events are looked at in chronological order, it becomes very obvious what the Bush administration is up to.

*** Jul 2004 ***
Kellogg, Brown & Root Services Inc. won a competitive bid contract to provide debris removal and other emergency work associated with natural disasters. KBR is a subsidiary of Haliburton, the company that Vice President Dick Cheney used to head as CEO.

*** Oct 29, 2005 ***
Hurricane Katrina makes landfall

*** Sept 4, 2005 ***
KBR wasn't the only corporation to win rebuilding contracts. Other companies with close ties to the Bush administration to win lucrative projects include the Shaw Group and Bechtel.

*** Sept 6, 2005 ***
The DHS announced that it will not require employers to use I-9 forms. The I-9 form is used by employers to verify that their employees are eligible to work in the United States. Without the I-9 requirement employers will be able to hire illegal aliens without the fear they could be sanctioned. As we all know the I-9 form doesn't do much to deter unscrupulous employers from hiring illegal aliens, but now even that tiny amount of regulation is gone.

*** Sept 8, 2005 ***
U.S. President George W. Bush issued an executive order allowing federal contractors rebuilding in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina to pay below the prevailing wage.

*** Sept 9, 2005 ***
The Department of Labor exempted government contractors from having to file affirmative action plans. Employers will be able to avoid discrimination lawsuits as they hire disproportionate numbers of Mexicans nationals.

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DOBBS: President Bush is now on his way back to the White House.

Some in the Bush administration appear to believe that paying prevailing wages, maintaining nondiscrimination standards and documenting workers' identities are examples of what they term bureaucratic inefficiency or red tape.

The Labor Department has now lifted a requirement for new government contractors on the Gulf Coast to file affirmative action plans. Critics say this adds to the victimization of workers who have already suffered as a result of Hurricane Katrina.

Christine Romans reports.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Department of Labor says it just wants to cut down on paperwork, so contractors can quickly rebuild the Gulf Coast. Critics say the administration is using the hurricane to dial back worker rights.

ROSS EISENBREY, ECONOMIC POLICY INSTITUTE: Affirmative action programs are the way you make sure that people take the requirements seriously, that they think about them and that they reach out into the minority community to hire people who they otherwise would overlook.

So they can say that that's paperwork. It's what makes the law real.

ROMANS: For at least the next three months, new contractors will not have to file an affirmative action plan, normally required for businesses with more than 50 employees. The Leadership Conference on Civil Rights called that, quote, "particularly disturbing in the face of the dramatic inequities exposed by Hurricane Katrina."

And the NAACP says the president could end up hurting the people he pledged to help.

HILARY SHELTON, NAACP: The same people we saw held up in the Superdome, the same people we saw holding onto their roof tops and even treetops to prevent themselves from being washed away by flood waters, these are the people that are going to be victimized by this awful move on behalf of our federal government.

ROMANS: But employment attorney Scott Silverman doubts it will have any impact at all.

SCOTT SILVERMAN, EMPLOYMENT ATTORNEY: It's just too short term and narrowly focused to be considered a major inroads on the affirmative action obligation, and I just don't see this lasting very long.

ROMANS: The affirmative action memo was written the day after the president suspended a 74-year-old law that requires contractors who win federal projects pay their workers the prevailing local wage, a wage in New Orleans that is already below the national average.

And the Department of Homeland Security suspended document requirements for employers, paving the way for illegal aliens to win jobs over American citizens.


ROMANS: With the billions of dollars of hurricane relief, many wonder why contractors and companies need incentives at all to get that business in the Gulf Coast.

And New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg today pointed out that New York City rebuilt from 9/11 without cutting back from worker protection. He says the best way to get quality work, Lou, is to pay for the labor and to make sure that employers have to follow every law on the books.

DOBBS: It is, it seems, good counsel for a president or a mayor to follow the law of the land, ratter than waive it for any reason, particularly when it's easily argued that it's against the interest of those that it's intended to help.

ROMANS: And in a late statement the Department of Labor wants to make clear that this is just relieving employers from having to write a written plan. Affirmative action still is in effect.

DOBBS: We should point out that many of these firms who will be doing the hiring are receiving very lucrative, no-bid contracts. The concern seems to be split as between companies and the people they employ.

Christine Romans, thank you.

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September 20, 2005
Contractors Get Affirmative Action Exemption
The Labor Department has temporarily suspended government requirements that its contractors have an affirmative action plan addressing the employment of women, members of minorities, Vietnam veterans and the disabled if the companies are first-time government contractors working on reconstruction in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

While employment lawyers said it was not clear how strong an impact the exemption would have, the move comes as President Bush has tried to address the perception of unfairness in the government's response to the hurricane.

Under the rules that normally apply to companies hired by the government, businesses with more than 50 employees working on contracts for more than $50,000 must develop an affirmative action plan. But according to a memorandum on the Labor Department's Web site, dated Sept. 9, the goal of the exemption in the case of recovery work associated with Hurricane Katrina is to reduce the burden of paperwork on government contractors and so encourage more companies to jump into assisting with rebuilding from the storm damage.

The exemption is to last for three months, unless it is extended.

"It does not waive affirmative action requirements, it does not waive job posting requirements, it does not waive their obligation not to engage in discrimination," said Charles E. James, deputy assistant secretary at the Labor Department. "It's very, very limited."

The announcement by the Labor Department came the day after President Bush announced the suspension of a law that requires employers to pay the locally prevailing wage to construction workers on federally financed projects. The order applies to parts of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. In explaining the move, the proclamation stated that "the conditions caused by Hurricane Katrina constitute a 'national emergency.' "

The Labor Department affirmative action memorandum, which Mr. James signed, specifically states that laws against discrimination continue to apply to federal contractors, as do requirements that employers keep records and post notices stating that "equal opportunity is the law." The memorandum only affects the requirement that employers develop a written affirmative action program, Mr. James said.

The memorandum received little attention in the media frenzy over the aftermath of the storm and hearings on the nomination of Judge John G. Roberts Jr. to the Supreme Court. Protests against it began circulating online late last week.

"It is not simply a paperwork exercise," said Shirley J. Wilcher, deputy assistant secretary for federal contract compliance in the Clinton administration who is now the interim executive director of the American Association for Affirmative Action. "It is the basis for companies to be mindful of their obligation not to discriminate."

But it is not clear how the exemption may, in practice, affect employment practices at companies, said B. Scott Silverman, an employment lawyer at Morrison & Foerster in Los Angeles. Its impact depends on how much affirmative action plans actually affect short-term hiring, he said.

"The only companies that will end up being completely excused are those that are not doing business with the federal government now and might not otherwise try to do business with the government," Mr. Silverman said.

He added that he thought a three-month exemption would probably not affect employment practices greatly, especially in light of the dire need for employees to rebuild.

"I don't think this exemption is going to restrict those opportunities in any way, shape or form," Mr. Silverman said.