Latino Workers and Human Rights in the Aftermath of Hurricane Katrina

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Eric Stover, Laurel Fletcher, Phuong Pham, Patrick Vinck
Publication Date
March 1, 2007
Publication Type
Journal Article
Climate, Public Health


This Article describes a research project designed to assess the vulnerabilities of Latino workers employed in rebuilding New Orleans during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Professors Fletcher, Pham, Stover and Vinck analyze the results, examining legal and human rights issues including job security, safety, fair pay, discrimination, and access to adequate housing and health care. To assess the problems that these workers faced, researchers surveyed key informants (legal advocates, health care providers, and other groups and organizations involved in rebuilding New Orleans) in the community and randomly interviewed documented and undocumented workers throughout the affected areas. The study found that undocumented workers arrived in New Orleans after Katrina to work at jobs that pay them less than their documented coworkers, expose them to hazardous worksites and dangerous conditions, and fail to provide for adequate health care. Though documented workers fare better, they too experienced problems relating to health care and wages. To combat the compounding problems that these workers face, the authors suggest that the federal government take measures to make immigration laws consistent with workplace regulations, as well as create an expedited process of issuing work authorizations in federally-declared disaster zones. By doing so, the government would be able to respond to the need for rebuilding while still protecting the legal and human rights of all documented and undocumented workers.