05-24-2018  4:18 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 ...

Amazon: Echo device sent conversation to family's contact

SEATTLE (AP) — An "unlikely" string of events prompted Amazon's Echo personal assistant device to record a Portland, Oregon, family's private conversation and then send the recording to an acquaintance in Seattle, the company said Thursday.The woman told KIRO-TV that two weeks ago an...

Portland streetcar derails in crash; 1 injury

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A Portland streetcar derailed during an accident involving several vehicles.No major injuries have been reported, but police say one person was taken to a hospital.The crash happened early Thursday afternoon in the Central Eastside Industrial District.The streetcar's "B...

Suspect in 1986 Washington murder case pleads not guilty

TACOMA, Wash. (AP) — A man arrested in the killing of a 13-year-old Tacoma, Washington girl over three decades ago has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder.The News Tribune reports 60-year-old Robert Washburn pleaded not guilty Thursday in Tacoma, Washington, to murder with aggravated...

Amazon: Echo device sent conversation to family's contact

SEATTLE (AP) — An "unlikely" string of events prompted Amazon's Echo personal assistant device to record a Portland, Oregon, family's private conversation and then send the recording to an acquaintance in Seattle, the company said Thursday.The woman told KIRO-TV that two weeks ago an...

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

Staley settles lawsuit against Missouri athletic director

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — South Carolina coach Dawn Staley has reached a ,000 settlement in her lawsuit against Missouri athletic director Jim Sterk.Missouri is paying the ,000. One half of the settlement will go to INNERSOLE, a nonprofit foundation co-founded by Staley. The other half will...

San Francisco police not charged in black man's 2015 killing

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — San Francisco prosecutors said Thursday that they will not charge officers in two shooting deaths, including the killing of a black man that led to citywide protests three years ago and federally recommended police reforms.District Attorney George Gascon declined to...

Body camera video is latest setback for Milwaukee police

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Body camera video showing police using a stun gun on an NBA player over a parking violation is just the latest setback for efforts to improve relations between Milwaukee officers and the city's black population.The confrontation involving Sterling Brown of the Milwaukee...

ENTERTAINMENT

Scenes cut from 'Show Dogs' over resemblance to sexual abuse

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Two scenes are being cut from the family movie "Show Dogs" after complaints that they resemble real-life sexual abuse, the movie's distributor has announced.In the movie, a police dog goes undercover at a dog show to catch animal smugglers.In one scene, the dog is told to...

Tommy Chong reflects on pot's evolution as he turns 80

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Yeah man, Tommy Chong says he always knew he'd live to see the day marijuana legalization would be sweeping America.He knew when he and partner Cheech Marin pioneered stoner comedy 50 years ago, a time when taunting the establishment with constant reminders that they...

Paltrow: Brad Pitt threatened Harvey Weinstein

NEW YORK (AP) — Gwyneth Paltrow says ex-boyfriend Brad Pitt threatened producer Harvey Weinstein after an alleged incident of sexual misconduct.The 45-year-old actress told "The Howard Stern Show" on Wednesday she was "blindsided." Paltrow claimed she was 22 when Weinstein placed his hands...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

MLB panel says baseballs getting extra lift, cause unknown

NEW YORK (AP) — Baseballs really have been getting extra lift since 2015, and it's not from the exaggerated...

Tommy Chong reflects on pot's evolution as he turns 80

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Yeah man, Tommy Chong says he always knew he'd live to see the day marijuana...

Bus driver charged in crash that killed student, teacher

A school bus driver with a history of driver's license suspensions caused a fatal crash on a New Jersey highway...

Israel defense chief plans 2,500 new West Bank settler homes

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel's defense minister said Thursday he will seek approval next week to fast-track...

Cyclone Mekunu pounds Yemen island on its path to Oman

SALALAH, Oman (AP) — Cyclone Mekunu roared over the Yemeni island of Socotra in the Arabian Sea on its way...

Saudi Arabia releases 3 women as other activists still held

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Saudi authorities have released three prominent women's rights...

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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