06-19-2018  3:19 pm      •     
The Skanner Report
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NEWS BRIEFS

Community Forum: How Does Law Enforcement Interact With Vulnerable Populations?

Forum will focus on public safety and examine mental health and addiction issues ...

King County Council Recognizes Juneteenth

The Metropolitan King County Council recognizes a true 'freedom day' in the United States ...

Unite Oregon Hosts ‘Mourn Pray Love, and Take Action’ June 20

Community is invited to gather at Terry Schrunk Plaza at 6 p.m. on World Refugee Day ...

MRG Foundation Announces Spring 2018 Grantees

Recipients include Oregon DACA Coalition, Kúkátónón Children’s African Dance Troupe, Komemma Cultural Protection Association ...

CareOregon Awards $250,000 for Housing Projects

Recipients include Rogue Retreat, Bridges to Change, Luke Dorf, Transition Projects and Bridge Meadows ...

Colorado to adopt California's stricter car pollution rules

DENVER (AP) — Colorado's governor on Tuesday ordered his state to adopt California's vehicle pollution rules, joining other states in resisting the Trump administration's plans to ease up on emission standards.Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper told state regulators begin writing rules that...

Protesters on round-the-clock vigil at Oregon ICE facility

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A small group of protesters has set up camp outside the Portland, Oregon headquarters of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to protest the Trump administration's policy of separating families after illegal border crossings.About two dozen protesters gathered...

Woman shot to death in Snohomish-area home, man arrested

SNOHOMISH, Wash. (AP) — Authorities say 45-year-old woman was shot to death northeast of Seattle in her Snohomish-area home and a man believed to be her husband has been arrested.The Seattle Times reports a man called 911 around 9 p.m. Monday and reported that someone had been hurt in his...

Colorado to adopt California's stricter car pollution rules

DENVER (AP) — Colorado's governor on Tuesday ordered his state to adopt California's vehicle pollution rules, joining other states in resisting the Trump administration's plans to ease up on emission standards.Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper told state regulators begin writing rules that...

OPINION

Juneteenth: Freedom's Promise Still Denied

Juneteenth is a celebration of the de facto end of slavery, but the proliferation of incarceration keeps liberation unfulfilled ...

What Happened? Assessing the Singapore Summit

For all its weaknesses, we are better off having had the summit than not ...

Redlining Settlement Fails to Provide Strong Penalties

A recent settlement of a federal redlining lawsuit is yet another sign that justice is still being denied ...

5 Lessons on Peace I Learned from My Cat Soleil

Dr. Jasmine Streeter takes some cues on comfort from her cat ...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

Lawsuit: Chicago police falsely ID thousands as gang members

CHICAGO (AP) — Civil rights group filed a lawsuit Tuesday alleging that the Chicago Police Department relies on an error-plagued database that names up to 195,000 people as gang members, including many who have never been in a gang.Many people were erroneously listed in the database simply...

Bucks' Sterling Brown sues Milwaukee over stun-gun arrest

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Milwaukee Bucks guard Sterling Brown sued the city of Milwaukee and its police department Tuesday, saying officers' use of a stun gun during his arrest for a parking violation constitutes excessive force and that they targeted him because he is black.Brown's attorney Mark...

Lawsuit claims Kansas official exposed private voter data

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A civil rights group filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday against Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach challenging a multi-state voter registration database it claims exposed sensitive information including partial Social Security numbers from nearly a thousand state...

ENTERTAINMENT

CBS' '60 Minutes' gathers audience week by week

NEW YORK (AP) — The newsmagazine "60 Minutes" was not television's most popular program this year, but for the 11th consecutive season it had more people who watched at least once during the year than any other non-sports show on TV.The Nielsen company's cumulative measurement of programs...

Film Review: 'The King' is guilty of an Elvis crime- excess

It's usually a bad sign when critics start questioning your film before it's even finished. But director Eugene Jarecki had to endure worse. While making the documentary "The King," he actually got gruff from a member of his own film crew.After a car breaks down, Jarecki takes the opportunity to...

Birthplace of singer, activist Nina Simone to be preserved

TRYON, N.C. (AP) — The dilapidated wooden cottage in North Carolina that was the birthplace of singer and civil rights activist Nina Simone now has the protection of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.The trust said in a news release Tuesday that it will develop and find a new use...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

Lawyer: Police think slaying of XXXTentacion was random

DEERFIELD BEACH, Fla. (AP) — The lawyer for slain rapper XXXTentacion said Tuesday that detectives believe...

Trump raises risk of economically harmful US-China trade war

WASHINGTON (AP) — The United States and China edged closer Tuesday to triggering the riskiest trade war in...

Meat 2.0? Clean meat? Spat shows the power of food wording

NEW YORK (AP) — If meat is grown in a lab without slaughtering animals, what should it be called?That...

Merkel says climate change is 'a fact,' laments US stance

BERLIN (AP) — German Chancellor Angela Merkel took aim Tuesday at U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to...

Blurring the border, Turkey deepens roots in northern Syria

AL-BAB, Syria (AP) — A newly paved road links the Turkish town of Elbeyli to the Syrian town of al-Bab,...

London police say short circuit caused minor subway blast

LONDON (AP) — A battery short circuit caused a small explosion at a London Underground station that injured...

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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