WASHINGTON – Rev. Jesse Jackson and Marc Morial, president of the National Urban League, are urging the oil and gas industry to diversify its workforce amid national protests over the death of Houston-born George Floyd during an arrest by Minneapolis police.
The two civil right leaders have both written letters to the trade group Interstate Natural Gas Association of America asking for a meeting to discuss the hiring of more women and minorities.
“We believe that through the development of a workforce that reflects the country’s demographics, upward mobility will take place in underserved, urban, rural, middle class and other communities,” Morial wrote in a letter last month to Alex Oehler, the interim president of INGAA.
Last year blacks represented just 7 percent of the oil and gas industry’s workforce, compared to 12 percent across all industries, according to the Department of Labor. Women made up 22 percent of the industry, while representing 47 percent of the overall U.S. workforce. Latinos and Asians were also underrepresented.
The letters were first reported by Axios Monday morning. Oehler told the Washington news outlet, “he plans to respond soon to Morial and welcomes the conversation about diversity.”
In his letter Morial also asks the INGAA’s help in securing “equal access” to natural gas and other forms of energy for minority communities in the United States.
Jackson has been working to get a 30-mile gas pipeline built for a small rural town in southern Illinois, where resident reportedly still rely on wood-burning stoves for heat in the wintertime.
“There are pockets of poverty all over the country,” Jackson told NBC 5 Chicago. “My job is to lift up those whose backs are against the wall.”