One of the most troubling consequences of BP’s Deepwater Horizon fiasco is the toll it has taken on displaced workers. After the disaster, a moratorium was placed on all deep-water drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, meaning those who rely on rig work for their livelihood are now without a source of income.
At the urging of President Obama – though BP claims the move was entirely voluntary – BP has put forward $100 million to support those displaced workers. The fund will be managed by the Baton Rouge Area Foundation (BRAF) and will be accessed by individual workers who may submit an application beginning on Sept. 1. Grants will pay as much as $30,000 to a qualifying worker.
The official word comes from the Gulf Coast Restoration and Protection Foundation, a branch of BRAF:
Deepwater-rig workers laid off as a result of the recent federal moratorium have a right to be concerned. We understand the financial hardship they face from a decision outside their control. To soften the hardship, BP has donated $100 million to Gulf Coast Restoration and Protection Foundation – a support organization for the Baton Rouge Area Foundation, or BRAF.
BP claims they will make this right and foot the bill – let’s make sure they do. If you’re a misplaced worker or know someone who is, make sure the proper preparations are made so all workers get what they deserve. Below is a list of FAQs provided by BRAF. Visit www.rigreliefgrants.org for more info.
Who qualifies? Under the agreement with BP which established the Rig Worker Assistance Fund, the grant program is limited to people who worked on deepwater rigs on May 6. Based on available information, it’s estimated that up to 9,000 people worked on the 33 deepwater rigs on May 6. If there is money available after the first round of grants, the agreement stipulates a second round of grants may be made to direct support workers.
What are the grant amounts? BP has established a range of $3,000 to $30,000 for the grants. Amounts will be based on financial hardship, which will be determined by several factors, including lost wages and expenses.
What are the key dates? The program will open for applications on Sept. 1. The application period will close Sept. 30. We expect to mail all award checks to approved applicants by Oct. 30.
What’s the phone number to the grant application hotline: The application hotline is (866) 577-8141, and information will be available online at RigReliefGrants.org. Until Sept. 1, the line has a recorded message. On Sept. 1, the line will go live to accept applications. We are hopeful the hotline will begin taking information from applicants before Sept. 1. If the line does go active before then, we will post the information at RigReliefGrants.org.
What can potential applicants do until the application process opens? Rig workers affected by the moratorium should begin gathering documents for the application process. At this time, we expect needed documents will include most recent pay stubs listing year-to-date income, verification of employment on one of the 33 deepwater rigs affected by the moratorium, W-2, 1099 and/or income tax returns for most recent calendar year, information related to spousal income, insurance proceeds, unemployment payments, payments from other relief funds and information about average monthly expenses for at least three months prior to May 6.
How will the grant process work: The Foundation is contracting with a third-party administrator to accept and complete grant applications. The administrator will open a call center at the hotline on Sept. 1 to begin accepting applications. We understand many applicants face financial difficulties so we have made every attempt to keep the grant process as simple as possible while offering extra help to those who may need it. Applications can be initiated online, or applicants can receive a package to be filled and returned by mail or by fax.
What happens after the application? The Foundation will review all applications to determine whether there is financial hardship and, if so, the amount of the grant. Beginning Oct. 4, the Foundation will write and mail grant checks weekly, and expects to mail all award checks to approved applicants by Oct. 30.
Submitted by Patrick McQueen