Reprinted from www.gambit.com
NEW STUDY OUTLINES EVEN MORE REASONS
A Tulane University report outlines more reasons to keep open the Avondale Shipyard, which is scheduled to close in 2013. Save Avondale, Save New Orleans, Save America, is the latest report from the Avondale Research Project, a group of academic researchers from the University of New Orleans, Southern University at New Orleans and Loyola and Tulane universities, along with shipyard workers and community leaders — all examining the social and economic consequences of the shipyard’s planned closure.
A November 2011 report outlined the economic dangers of the closure, estimating job losses will affect not only the shipyard’s immediate community but also the New Orleans metro area — beginning this year. That report predicted bleak prospects for shipyard workers seeking comparable manufacturing jobs in the southeast.
The latest report, authored by Tulane political science professor Aaron Schneider, notes those same job-loss conclusions and focuses on the Avondale community’s civic engagement. Schneider says Avondale workers are more likely to join neighborhood groups and follow current events, according to results of surveys in which 84 shipyard workers were interviewed.
It’s a micro-focused research project, studying a community’s basic economy (how many times each week its members eat at a restaurant, how much they contribute to their local church, etc.) and how it communicates. Among its findings, the survey noted that 86 percent of workers discuss politics weekly.
“The workers themselves are clear on where their civic activism comes from — the struggle and victory of securing union representation in the workplace,” the report concludes. “That struggle was difficult, and it taught workers to intertwine their civic future with that of the community.”
In October 2011, Gov. Bobby Jindal announced the state would provide a $214 million package of incentives to protect the shipyard’s jobs — as long as shipyard owner Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII) can find a business partner to keep operations going. The shipyard currently is building two Navy vessels that are expected to be completed next year. If HII doesn’t secure a partner, the yard will close. — Alex Woodward