BP claim sign

Sam's Restaurant, Pensacola, FL (Marta Evry)

Fishermen contracted by BP in the recovery effort for its recovery effort have their wages capped at $200/day, reports Mother Jones’ Mac McClelland. That wouldn’t be terrible for fishermen, but getting assigned to work is based on a lottery system, making it difficult to get regular work. Worse yet, many fear the system is rigged for favoritism.

In the meantime, the women’s husbands are working for BP, doing cleanup. Boat captains make $36 an hour, $25 for deckhands, but BP’s capping their wages at $200 a day. All around, it’s far less than the husbands usually make in June. And there’s a lottery for work. Those people who get drawn seven days a week? It’s rigged, the women say. There are cliques.

Young, fresh-faced Julie with the toddler on her lap doesn’t want her husband doing cleanup anyhow. She tells him to stop doing it because it’s dangerous. He says, “How do you want me to feed you?” She says, “How are we gonna eat when we’re dead from chemical contamination you’re bringing into the house?” He says, “We’ll live on the check.”

At this point in Julie’s re-creation of this daily fight, everyone yells, “But we’re not getting the check!

For beach recovery workers, the wages are much lower than that of fishermen with boats. Beach workers receive $10 an hour, or $12 for overtime, according to workers I met in Louisiana in late May. Supervisors make around $20 an hour. I don’t know if their wages are capped like fishermen.

During this time of year fishermen would normally make hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars a day, they’re confined by BP to a system that restricts the amount fishermen can work, and then caps their wages on top. Add in red tape and delays in getting short term compensation from BP for fishermen, and Gulf residents are being pushed to the edge.

McClelland paints a picture of the people of the Gulf that is at best distraught, and at worst on the brink of sanity. Be sure to read her whole report last week from Louisiana.