Company: More willing workers than oil response positions - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Company: More willing workers than oil response positions

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) -

By Danielle Thomas – bio | email

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Is it a case of broken promises or just a misunderstanding? On Thursday, people hoping to get oil response jobs parked outside a job placement service in Gulfport waiting for news of when they can go to work. They said they were guaranteed jobs if they completed the necessary training. But company officials said that's not the case.

Nikia Cunningham and Christopher Grant said they drove from Hattiesburg to Gulfport every day this week hoping to get jobs. Even after completing the training, they're not on the payroll.

"We're taking a long ride down that highway because someone guaranteed us a job, you know," said Gant. "We've all got families to go home to. What are we supposed to say when we go home?"

"They say this is for somebody looking for a job," Cunningham said. "They've got it on the billboards: Mississippi needs jobs. Come down. We're going to put you to work."

Command Labor is one of the job placement companies working for BP. Company officials say they tell everyone who completes the training he or she will get a job if a position is available.

"We got you ready. We're giving you the training to be qualified on the beaches, " said Dave Wallace, Command Labor Area Vice President. "The jobs, they are growing daily and I suspect shortly there will be perhaps even more jobs than we have people available."

However, right now Wallace said there are more applicants than open positions.

"I have a list of the 59 that didn't go to work today. I'm going to rotate those through so that hopefully instead of 650 people working seven days a week, week after week, we'll have 700 some odd people working six days a week," Wallace said. "Taking a turn off so that everybody can earn some income."

With hundreds to keep informed, Wallace admits communication has been a challenge. He understands the frustration.

"I have folks that come in that this is their first opportunity to work in some cases a year or two years. They've been on unemployment. Their unemployment has run out," Wallace said.

Company officials say after undergoing training, they ask people to wait for a phone call before showing up for work, but that's not what Cunningham and Gant understood they were to do.

"It's been misleading, confusing," said Gant. "If they had been a little more clear about it, I don't think people would be this upset."

Some people complained to WLOX that Command Labor is not releasing their HAZWOPER certification cards so they can work elsewhere. Command Training officials said the training costs hundreds of dollars and the company is offering it at no charge. Therefore, the company requires employees stay on at least 60 days to recoup its money. Officials say people do have the option to pay for the certification.

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