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Aug 06, 2013
Governor Jindal Pledges Support for Workers at McDermott International

Morgan City—Governor Bobby Jindal, Louisiana Economic Development (LED) Secretary Stephen Moret and Louisiana Workforce Commission (LWC) Executive Director Curt Eysink traveled to Morgan City today to visit with workers, local officials and company officials from McDermott International. On Monday, McDermott announced the company would be scaling back its Morgan City operation by early 2014.
 
Governor Jindal, Secretary Moret and Executive Director Eysink were joined by officials from other Southern Louisiana companies—including Bollinger Shipyards, Danos, Edison and Chouest Offshore —to remind workers that the state’s economy and the Bayou Region are strong and full of opportunity. Officials from companies on hand were also there to indicate their interest in recruiting affected workers for available jobs. 
 
Governor Jindal said, “We worked tirelessly with company officials, regional economic development leaders and elected officials to stave off this announcement. But most of the growth in the offshore fabrication business today is focused on very large and very heavy drilling structures that require deepwater access to fabrication facilities. And the 20-foot to 25-foot draft in the waters at the Morgan City Yard are simply not deep enough to serve the major deepwater projects today. It’s for that very specific reason — and not because of the local workforce or our state business climate — that McDermott is making this very difficult decision.
 
“Our number one responsibility is to make sure that workers affected by McDermott’s decision land on their feet at other companies in Louisiana. In order to help these folks land on their feet, the Department of Louisiana Economic Development and the Louisiana Workforce Commission stand ready to provide these workers with the resources they need to find new jobs. We will do everything in our power to see that the men and women of McDermott have outstanding career options available to them as their work here comes to a close.
 
“While today is certainly somber, our message to the workers is that new opportunities are on the horizon. We will get through this together. One thing about Louisianians is that no matter what challenge we face, we always come back stronger and better than before – and we do it with the support of our friends and neighbors.
 
“That’s why we came down here today. To the workers – I want you to know that we are committed to helping you find new jobs and opportunities right here at home. With the major economic activity we’re seeing in this region and the coalition with us today, I’m confident that we will overcome this challenge.”
 
An increasing amount of deepwater fabrication work for the Gulf of Mexico requires much deeper water depths than are available at McDermott’s yard, which was the primary factor driving the company’s decision.
 
LED has worked closely with local and corporate officials of McDermott for the last two years in an attempt to find ways to keep the yard open. However, the water depth at the yard has made it very difficult for the company to compete for heavy deepwater projects. LED provided incentive proposals to try to help the company secure major new work for the yard, but the timing of those potential projects hasn't worked out.
 
McDermott President and CEO Steve Johnson has committed that McDermott will renew its leases at the site in order to preserve the opportunity to restart operations at the yard when and if market conditions improve. Additionally, he committed to LED that McDermott would entertain offers from other companies that could make use of the location in partnership with McDermott. LED also will be connecting McDermott with some of the large industrial companies that may have a need for modular fabrication work that could be performed at that facility in the future.
 
Secretary Moret said, “Many employers in the Bayou Region are adding jobs right now, such as Bollinger Shipyards, Danos, Intermoor, Leevac Shipyards, Oceaneering, Gulf Island and Edison Chouest Offshore, so LED FastStart and the Louisiana Workforce Commission will work with the company to help find good job opportunities in the Bayou Region for impacted workers over the next six to nine months as the yard’s work slows down. The dedicated employees at McDermott have exactly the work ethic and skill sets that other major employers in the area are seeking right now as they grow to take advantage of expanding deepwater opportunities in the Gulf of Mexico."
 
The LWC has a Rapid Response team that has met with company officials to establish a schedule of services for affected employees that will help make their transitions to other jobs smooth and fast. Those services include orientation meetings, skill assessments, job placement services and potentially even retraining for those who need it.
 
Many of the skillsets common to a fabrication yard like this one are in demand today, meaning a number of McDermott’s affected workers are in high-demand occupations in the region and elsewhere, particularly in South Louisiana. These skills are very likely to remain in demand for years to come. 
 
For example, the skillsets of these workers—mostly structural and pipe fitters, welders, riggers and painters—are the same or similar to the skillsets required to build approximately $60 billion of new plants and expansions of existing plants. Those projects are projected to require up to 86,000 construction workers through 2016.The LWC Rapid Response team will focus specifically on identifying those skills among the affected employees and helping them qualify for jobs with other companies.
 
Executive Director Eysink said, "The best way we can assist these workers is to help them find new, good jobs quickly, and that work starts today. They should understand that their skills are truly in demand. Not only are they in demand today, but employers are telling us they will continue to be in demand for years to come."
 
Examples of companies hiring workers include Edison Chouest for its LaShip shipyard in Houma that will result in 1,000 new direct jobs; Danos for its new $10 million corporate headquarters in Gray and new $20 million fabrication facility that will create 426 new jobs over the next five years; and Oceaneering which has announced it will create 200 new jobs averaging $60,000 per year while retaining 1,700 existing positions at its Morgan City facilities.
 
 
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