Recommendations for Action

Reconstruction of the great city of New Orleans should not take place at the expense of vulnerable workers. Local, state and federal government responses to the abuse and exploitation of these workers have been completely inadequate. At a minimum, the government must ensure that workers are paid properly and are not exposed to dangerous working conditions.

In order to ensure fair and decent treatment of workers, government agencies and employers must take the following steps:

• Local, state, and federal government officials should acknowledge the magnitude and significance of worker exploitation in the reconstruction of New Orleans. 

• State and federal agencies should aggressively enforce existing wage and hour, health and safety, and workers’ compensation laws. 

• Government officials should fairly enforce workplace protections without regard to race, national origin, immigration status, or level of English proficiency. 

• The U.S. Department of Labor should audit government contractors for compliance with federal wage and hour laws, and the federal government should suspend contracts or refuse to award contracts to noncompliant employers. 

• Louisiana should adopt additional new worker protection statutes that protect workers engaged in reconstruction; and 

• All contractors should comply with the federal wage and hour laws and should monitor their subcontractors to ensure compliance.