The NAACP is charging that BP is primarily hiring minorities for the dangerous jobs in the oil spill clean up and putting them at risk for various health problems.
A letter written by NAACP President Benjamin Todd Jealous urged BP CEO Tony Hayward to take further steps to address the spill and its impact on the various communities near the Gulf Coast. Jealous described his severe dismay after visiting the recovery site and accused the company of assigning minorities to physically difficult positions with the most significant exposure to toxins. He argued that Whites, conversely, are given supervisory positions and work in less strenuous conditions.
“We understand and appreciate that BP has been engaged in numerous efforts to address the oil spill and its impact on communities—including the concerns that were shared with me,” Jealous said in the letter. “But we urge BP to take further steps…”
Jealous urged the oil giant to ensure minorities aren’t demoted to dangerous, difficult and low-paying jobs. He also suggested the company provide financial support to community-based organizations assisting in relief efforts.
The letter was released at a July 10 press conference in Kansas City, where the NAACP is holding it’s annual conference. Board Chairman Roslyn M. Brock, Jealous and Gulf state branch presidents were all in attendance as well as Lisa P. Jackson, Environmental Protection Agency administrator.
Other Black organizations have recently voiced additional concerns over BP’s recovery efforts, claiming the company has not held up its promise to reward payments to residents and businessmen affected by the spill.
“When BP made this mess, they promised the thousands of people who rely on the Gulf for their livelihood that they would make them whole—to date, they’ve failed miserably,” Harry Alford, president of the National Black Chamber of Commerce, said in a statement. “They aren’t stopping the spill. They aren’t cleaning up the mess. And now they’re not taking care of the families that they’ve harmed. America and the Gulf Coast residents need more than empty promises and broken dreams. We need BP to follow through on their commitments.”
Alford’s statements were in response to news reports that workers from the Gulf region were unexpectedly notified that BP was changing its hardship payment schedule. According to BP’s Web site, as of July 9, over $162 million has been paid to 51,700 claimants, whose payouts range from $1,000 to $450,000. Another 51,300 claims are still unpaid.