Despite a Sunday federal-court decision to the contrary, BP representatives today were telling would-be cleanup mariners that they had to absolve the oil giant of any liability if they wanted to get the lucrative work.
The contracts handed out at the John A. Alario Center on the West Bank of Jefferson Parish included language that was supposed to have been struck after the ruling by Judge Ginger Berrigan Sunday. In addition to the liability provisions, a copy of the contract obtained by The Lens prohibited the sailors from talking to reporters, another provision voided by Berrigan.
About 150 people attended the Monday afternoon closed-door training session offered by BP, which certifies them to work with hazardous waste. Unlike previous training sessions elsewhere, Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s deputies would not let the news media inside.
Those leaving the event said many inside were Vietnamese, and not all spoke English, but there were no translators on the BP staff. Also, no contracts appeared written in languages other than English, they said.
BP representative Curtis Thompson said in a phone interview earlier today that the oil company no longer was using the contracts that were the subject of the court action.
“We stopped requiring those waivers and we have been using a standard contract,” he said.
Asked for a copy of that contract, Thompson said he didn’t have one.
The contract passed out at the Alario Center did have one significant difference: It cut the pay in half.
In the original contract, BP was paying $2,000 for boats longer than 45 feet and $1,500 for smaller vessels. That was for a 12-hour workday. The new contract has the same rates – but for a 24-hour day.
Staff writer Karen Gadbois contributed to this report.