05-26-2018  4:38 pm      •     
The Skanner Report
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NEWS BRIEFS

Attorney General Forms Hate Crime Task Force

The task force will study hate-motivated crimes and review existing legal protections for victims ...

Portland Art Museum Celebrates Art Museum Day with Free Admission on May 25

Portland Art Museum joins art museums across North America, with great works of art and public programs ...

June Key Delta Community Center Hosts May Week ’18 Health Fair May 26

Event includes vision, glucose screenings, medication disposal and car seat installation ...

Mississippi Avenue Giving Tuesday

On Tuesday, May 22, 10 percent of proceeds from participating Mississippi Ave. businesses will go to SEI ...

Amtrak: No evidence injured passenger was in fight

RENO, Nev. (AP) — The family of a 22-year-old train passenger found severely injured next to railroad tracks in Truckee, California, suspects he may have been the victim of a hate crime, but Amtrak said Saturday that investigators have found no evidence of foul play.Aaron Salazar's family...

Investigation: Police fired 14 bullets, shotgun at man

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — An investigation by the Portland Police Bureau says Portland police officers and a Multnomah County sheriff's deputy fired 14 bullets, three shotgun blasts and nine less-lethal rounds at a man inside a Portland homeless shelter.KATU-TV reports the investigation material...

City aims to block release of dangerous psychiatric patients

LAKEWOOD, Wash. (AP) — The city that houses Western State Hospital, Washington's main psychiatric facility, is fighting to keep patients from being released into its boundaries.The News Tribune reports Lakewood on Monday approved a moratorium on city business licenses for new adult family...

Missing fisherman found by divers in submerged vessel

SEATTLE (AP) — The body of a missing fisherman was found by divers inside the sunken vessel, the Kelli J.The Coast Guard said Saturday that the body was found before the vessel was refloated by contractors in Willapay Bay on Friday.The Pacific County Sheriff's Office took the fisherman's...

OPINION

Racism After Graduation May Just Be What's on the Menu

Dr. Julianne Malveaux says that for our young millennials, racism is inevitable ...

Prime Minister Netanyahu Shows Limits of Israel’s Democracy

Bill Fletcher, Jr. on racial politics in Israel and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s uneven treatment of African immigrants ...

Golfing While Black Is Not a Crime

Grandview Golf Club asks five Black women to leave for golfing too slow ...

Discovering the Best of Black America in 2018

Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis discusses the DTU Journalism Fellowship & Scholarship Program ...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

Meeting draws people angry over fatal police shooting

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — More than 200 people turned out for a community meeting Saturday to protest the death of a young black man who was fatally shot by a Virginia police officer after he ran naked onto an interstate highway.Speakers at the meeting at Richmond's Second Baptist Church said...

The Latest: Family: Police need to handle people better

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — The Latest on the fatal police shooting of a naked and unarmed man in Richmond (all times local):5:16 p.m.Family and friends of a man who was fatally shot by Richmond police after running naked onto an interstate highway are calling on police to find non-lethal ways of...

White neighbor gets prison for harassing black family

EASTON, Pa. (AP) — A neighbor accused of harassing and using racial epithets against a black Pennsylvania family for years has been sentenced to prison.A Northampton County judge sentenced 45-year-old Robert Kujawa to the term Friday after a jury convicted him of ethnic intimidation,...

ENTERTAINMENT

Glenn Snoddy, inventor of fuzz pedal for guitarists, dies

MURFREESBORO, Tennessee (AP) — A recording engineer whose invention of a pedal that allowed guitarists to create a fuzzy, distorted sound most famously used by Keith Richards in the Rolling Stones' hit "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" has died.Glenn Snoddy was 96. His daughter Dianne Mayo...

Reaction to criminal charges filed against Harvey Weinstein

Reaction to rape and other criminal charges filed in New York on Friday against Harvey Weinstein:"I hope this gives hope to victims and survivors everywhere, that we are one step closer to justice. Because one win is a win for all of us." — Weinstein accuser Rose McGowan, to The Associated...

Vindication, triumph, also fear: Weinstein accusers react

NEW YORK (AP) — Watching the stunning images of Harvey Weinstein walking into a courthouse Friday in handcuffs, a detective on each arm, Louisette Geiss still felt a shiver of fear in reaction to the man who, she says, once cornered her and tried to physically force her to watch him...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

Bale's scissor-kick gives Madrid 3rd straight European title

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — Gareth Bale's eye-catching scissor-kick helped Real Madrid to a third successive...

Resisting Trump in a bright red state

EDMOND, Oklahoma (AP) — Vicki Toombs was watching the returns on election night 2016 when her phone buzzed...

Legal hurdles may make Weinstein's prosecution an exception

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Harvey Weinstein's arrest in New York Friday is a landmark moment in the #MeToo...

Ebola vaccinations begin in rural Congo on Monday: Ministry

KINSHASA, Congo (AP) — Ebola vaccinations will begin Monday in the two rural areas of Congo where the...

Israeli soldier badly wounded in West Bank arrest raid dies

JERUSALEM (AP) — The Israeli military says a soldier who was seriously wounded in action this week has...

US warns Syrian government not to advance on south

BEIRUT (AP) — The United States warned it would take "firm and appropriate measures" to protect a...

Helen Silvis of The Skanner

When Hurricane Katrina hit Louisiana, most of the 90 people working for the Portland-based Coast Janitorial Co. lost their homes. Coast — which has its home offices on North Alberta Street — has a contract with Lockheed-Martin Corp. and NASA to provide maintenance, furniture moving, hazardous waste disposal and pest control services to the NASA facility at Arnold Air Force Base in New Orleans.

"The majority of our employees lost their homes and they have been living in shelters all around the country," said Bernadette Artharee, the company's executive director.

Many Coast staff members found refuge in the Superdome and have harrowing stories to tell. Some — who found refuge in Phoenix, Las Vegas and Indianapolis — say they may not return to New Orleans because their future prospects look brighter in their adopted cities, Artharee said.

"One woman told me: 'I can't come back. I'm doing much better here,' " she said. "But I think it also has a lot to do with what they went through psychologically."

The hurricane was a logistical nightmare for the company; without any administrative staff the firm couldn't maintain any records. Nevertheless, Coast was able to keep on paying the staff.

"Our customer is still paying the wages, even for the employees who have not been able to return to us," Artharee said. "It has really helped our employees get back on their feet. Some of them have lost everything."

Some Coast employees have been with the company for more than 10 years, and most want to return, said Hasan Artharee, a manager with the company. He expects 85 percent of the staff to return by the end of the year. In the meantime, some temporary workers are commuting up to 250 miles each way to work.

Finding a place to live can be difficult, he said since rents in the New Orleans area have practically doubled since the hurricane.

That's why about six people currently are living onsite at the air force base, sleeping on air mattresses and cots. Coast's goal is to help every employee find housing before the end of the year.

 "Our union down there is also getting housing for employees and helping them get back to work," Bernadette Artharee said. "They've been able to find some apartments below market rate."

The company has a long track record of working closely with union officials. Bernadette Artharee's father, Henry Scott, started Coast in 1957. Along with his entrepreneurial spirit, Scott had a strong commitment to social justice. So he joined forces with union organizers to create living-wage jobs with retirement and health benefits, Bernadette Artharee said.

"We've been union for as long as I can remember — 30 or maybe 40 years."

In the highly competitive service industry, it is not easy to pay union wages and offering health and retirement benefits said service employees union (SEIU) organizer Wesley Jones.

"In this industry the costs are all labor — there are some materials costs, but wages are by far the largest cost," Jones said. "So for people to offer lower prices, they have to figure out how to pay employees less. That creates a race to the bottom where responsible employers who want to provide decent wages and benefits get pushed out of the market."

Coast managers say that this last year has been tough, but they are going after several contracts in Oregon and have high hopes of success.

"We want jobs that are union because they pay more, but there are instances where we might get in at a lower rate and later on we will talk to our customers about paying union rates," Bernadette Artharee said.

Union representatives said research shows that while non-union companies often offer lower rates, they have higher staff turnover and are less reliable.

"Where you have non-union companies that pay low wages to workers, you also sometimes find rampant wage and hour violations which can result in lawsuits," said Pooja Bhatt, a graduate student completing an internship with SEIU.

Hasan Artharee said all Coast employees have health benefits and a pension plan through the SEIU. "I feel that leads to a healthy community — when people have health benefits," He said. "It cuts down on injuries and accidents.
"We've been going after contracts here in Oregon," said Hasan. "Right now, we're waiting to hear about one very large, high-profile contract. If we get this one it's going to be a real celebration."

Hasan didn't want to give details about the contract, but said Coast will know by the end of this year. If successful, the company will be able to add 60 more staff — most of them janitors.

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