Oil clean-up volunteers seek paycheck

Men clean a beach in Biloxi, Miss., as the Gulf coast is still being threatened by the oil spill from the BP Deepwater Horizon platform disaster.

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Tess Vigeland: A flotilla of boats battled the oil slick today. Defense Secretary Robert Gates approved funding for the deployment of thousands of National Guard troops to help with the response. And BP is recruiting volunteers to clean up the beaches before the oil comes ashore. Hundreds of people have turned up in the last couple days at a makeshift training center in Waveland, Miss.

Kate Archer Kent reports most want a paycheck in return.


Kate Archer Kent: Wayne Goff has eight kids, and he's been out of work for a month. He's an instrument technician, and his dream job is working on an offshore rig. The beach cleanup is a good cause, but he's in it for the money.

WAYNE Goff: This company made billions last year in profits -- BP. I don't have nothing wrong with volunteering. I've done volunteering during Katrina and other projects around the city. But everyone needs to make a living.

Goff knows that good paying clean-up jobs are out there. But he'll settle for litter pickup, even if it's just one day of work making $10 an hour.

GOFF: I'm a skilled guy, not to say I'm above picking up trash. But I'm in it to provide for me and my family.

Goff is going through BP's basic safety training course in the lobby of a strip mall here in Waveland. It's for people who want to clean up beaches and marshland before the oil makes a bigger mess. A BP contractor delivers a PowerPoint presentation.

About 40 people have turned out for this afternoon's session.

Jim Tsuchyia is BP's community support coordinator for this county. He's trying to keep expectations in check about landing jobs from this basic training.

JIM TSUCHYIA: We don't want to put people in a position where they're gung-ho, they're excited, they're motivated -- highly motivated -- to help. And if we provided training, and it didn't use them, that might have a negative effect that we can't measure so we're caught in that proverbial hard spot.

Several people interviewed said that they would be willing to move to wherever temporary jobs might be if opportunities opened up.

Trainee Burton Gilbert says it depends on where the oil hits shore.

BURTON Gilbert: We might have to go to certain areas where it's worse just to work at it longer.

BP's Tsuchyia says more than a 1,000 people have gone through this training at centers across the Gulf. Wayne Goff for one doesn't want oil on his shoreline. But, like many others out of work, he wants to see the potential of jobs on the horizon.

In Waveland, Miss., I'm Kate Archer Kent for Marketplace.

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