TOPPENISH, Wash. – The Yakama Nation has warned tribal members to be cautious about giving out personal information to recruiters offering lucrative jobs to help clean up the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
The Washington state attorney general’s office says authorities have not been able to determine whether the jobs offered are legitimately tied to BP’s cleanup efforts.
The tribe issued a warning Thursday after recruiters promised tribal members $40-per-hour jobs cleaning up the oil spill and bus transportation to Louisiana and Florida. The recruiters handed out papers promising work and asked tribal members for their names and phone and Social Security numbers.
Many tribal members gave up personal information, and some even quit their jobs for the promise of higher-paying work.
“We have a lot of suspicion,” Yakama Tribal Council Chairman Harry Smiskin told the Yakima Herald-Republic.
But the man promising the jobs, Christino Rosado, told the newspaper he plans to start sending the first 160 Yakamas to the Gulf within a week.
Rosado said in a phone interview Thursday that he’s signed up about 1,800 workers from the Yakama Nation and plans to pay for their travel, lodging and meals. That’s nearly one-fifth of the 10,000-member tribe.
BP spokesman Ray Viator in Louisiana said Friday it’s difficult to determine whether Rosado had or was working on obtaining contracts because the four major companies that BP is working with on cleanup operations have hired countless subcontractors.
Most cleanup wages are for $10 to $20 an hour, Viator said.
Some tribal members are worried.
Lewis Underwood planned to close his small auto repair shop and had already rented out his small home.
“Usually, if it sounds too good to be true, that’s the way it turns out, I guess,” he said Thursday. “It’s like dangling a piece of raw meat in front of a starving man – that’s messed up.”
Gina Stevens, a casino card dealer, quit her job. She thinks a Gulf cleanup job will materialize and pay far more than the near-minimum wage she said she earned at the casino.
“I just wanted a change in life and this is something I’d be interested in doing,” she said.
A call to a number listed on a flier offering jobs was answered by a man who identified himself as Christino Rosado’s son, Junior Rosado of Seasonal Fruit, an El Paso, Texas-based company.
According to the Texas secretary of state’s Office, Rosado incorporated the business in 2005, but it was involuntarily dissolved by the state two years later because its registered agent, Pasco attorney Monty Stevens, quit. Texas state law requires corporations to have a registered agent.
Christino Rosado said Thursday the business isn’t dissolved. He said he would have Monty Stevens, who he said was his attorney, answer further questions. Calls to Stevens were not returned.
In a statement this week, the attorney general’s office said Rosado showed up in Oregon City, Ore., in May, where he said he would build a fruit-juice factory at an empty beer warehouse and employ hundreds.
Rosado told the Herald-Republic his plan failed after efforts to buy the building fell through.
Tribal member Valerie Craig said her family members have signed up for the Gulf jobs. Some may have already left for the Gulf, she said.
“I’ve got a lot of family members who signed up for this, and I don’t want them getting down there and getting stuck,” she said.