KENNEDY, COLLEAGUES URGE THE ADMINISTRATION TO REBUILD THE GULF COAST IN A WAY THAT IS FAIR TO WORKERS JOINED VICTIMS OF KATRINA WHO HAVE LOST EVERYTHING – INCLUDING THEIR FAIR WAGES, JOBS, BENEFITS
Washington, DC: Today Senators Kennedy, Schumer, Dorgan, and Harkin joined working men and women impacted by Hurricane Katrina to discuss how the Administration’s policies have hurt those who have already lost everything. They heard firsthand from Diana Hill and Trina Daniels who were living in the lower Ninth Ward at the time of the storm who spoke about how the Administration’s misplaced priorities are fundamentally unfair to those who are trying to rebuild their lives. The Senators blasted the Administration for suspending Davis Bacon, awarding no-bid contracts to their corporate cronies rather than jobs to local workers, and waiving Affirmative while they refuse to use their tax cuts for the wealthiest as a way to offset the costs of rebuilding.
Senator Kennedy said, “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.”
Today Kennedy is offering a bill, outlined below, titled the “Rebuild with Respect Act” to remedy these abuses. Also below are Senator Kennedy’s remarks and fact sheets on the economic impact of Katrina, Davis Bacon in the Gulf Coast, the affect of waiving Affirmative Action, Disaster Unemployment Assistance, the hazardous conditions facing workers, and the need to hire locally in the Gulf Coast.
The Rebuild with Respect 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.