Laid off BP workers: "They changed our licenses to local addresses"

By: Meagan O'Halloran Email
By: Meagan O'Halloran Email

Most of the BP staging areas have cut their workforce by 75% since last week.

According to BP, one of the reasons beachworkers are being fired or placed on standby is to create positions for local workers when the need arises.

A group of those laid-off workers are now coming forward and claiming the sub-contractor who hired them tried to make it appear they were local workers.

They came from Miami, Naples, even from as far away as Texas to work as part of BP's clean up efforts. And after BP announced it was committed to hiring locals, the men say they technically became locals.

"They change ID's for everybody because we are not locals, that's the reason. So if we want to stay here and work, we have to change the ID" says Edgar Searas.

The workers we talked to say they didn't even have to come to the DMV to change their license. They said the company that hired them did it for them online.

Apparently it's legal to change drivers licenses on-line. The new ID's came in the mail by the dozens on Monday.

The new ID's means that the men's original driver's licenses are no longer valid. This isn't the only difficulty these men say they've faced since they arrived in Bay County. They say the sub-contractor, Cumberland Environmental Resources Company did not live-up to any of the things they were promised when they were recruited for the oil cleanup effort.

"Number one, they promise to pay for the hotel, the food, and we were here for two weeks and they say now everyone is fired" Searas says.

Cumberland spokesperson, Lesbia Martinez says it's absolutely not true. And as for the ID's? Martinez says they explained the county's new policy of only hiring local workers and that most of the men voluntarily chose to become permanent residents and change the address on their license to keep their jobs.

Now that these men have been laid-off,as well as Cumberland, they say these new ID's will make it difficult for them to go back home and find jobs.

While BP says it will hire local workers from now on, there's no guarantee that will happen. The company is scaling-back all of it's clean-up efforts. It's highly unlikely anyone will be hired unless oil or tarballs start washing ashore.


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