|Business Name||Ocean Marine Contractors, LLC|
|Physical Address||9084 HWY. 182 East, Morgan City, LA 70380|
|No email listed on website.|
|Type of business||Marine Fabrication & Scrap|
6797 Bayou Black Drive, Gibson, LA 70356
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Ocean Marine Contractors Investigative Report
I was contracted to the Ocean Marine Contractors site in Gibson, LA (6797 Bayou Black Drive, Gibson, LA) in late 2010. This is when I had started working for Lazer CLaims Investigations And Security Services. It didn’t take me long to notice the lack of concern for safety at this company. Oftentimes, the cart would break down. The cart that was for the guard to use was always a run down cart. Then again, most of the carts at Ocean Marine Contractors are run down junk. The exception are the the carts for the owner, Tommie Cheramie, and his son, Ryan Cheramie.
The mose frequent issue was not having a dependable cart. Ocean Marine Contractors Gibson, LA site is quite a large site. It requires the use of a cart to perform rounds. It wouldn’t be uncommon for at least once a month the cart would malfunction. Multiple times I’d have to walk from the very back of the site to the guard shack, which is located at the front of the site, due to the cart ceasing to operate.
In the beginning someone on the yard, usually the mechanic, would ensure that the cart was fueled up. We, the guards, didn’t have access to the gas. It got to a point to where whomever was responsible for this duty was not performing their job. Since, at one point, the fuel gauge didn’t work, the guard had no idea whether the cart was properly fueled up. On quite a few occasions I’d get stuck in the back because the cart would run out of gas. I’d report these issues but nothing would ever get done. It seems that Ocean Marine Contractors wants rounds performed but they don’t want to listen to the guard when they’re notified of issues. To me having a guard is completely pointless if you’re not going to listen to them.
About a year or so after I started working the site they had a rule that if the cart would malfunction to the point of not being able to perform a round then the guard could use another cart. That is, use one of the carts that the Ocean Marine Contractors workers use. However, this open rule didn’t last long. One night I used a cart and the following Tuesday when I went to pick up my check I was verbally reprimanded for using Ryan Chearmie’s cart. I didn’t damage the cart. I didn’t abuse the cart. I simply used it for one night. That’s it! He obviously had a problem with it as Lester Beam told me I was to never use Ryan Cheramie’s cart. There was no way for me to know which cart was Ryan Cheramie’s cart and which was another person’s cart. It’s not like they had parking spaces for individual superior workers or nameplates on the carts.
This rubbed me the wrong way. I’m not the type that believes in the whole superiority complex. Just because someone is the son of the owner of a company, in my opinion, doesn’t make them superior to me. I can understand if they want to make sure their cart is properly taken care of. However, my job was to ensure the site was secured. It’s not as if I was going joyriding in the cart.
On another night I went to use another cart. Unfortunately, most of the carts had something wrong with them. Whether it was stalling frequently, headlights nor working, etc. There were about four or five carts I tried that ALL had issues. I wrote the description of the cart down and turned it in to the security guard site supervisor the next morning. The following Tuesday when I went to pick up my check the owner of Lazer Claims Investigations and Security Services, Lester Beam, said that I needed to stop complaining about the carts.
I asked him how I was complaining. He mentioned the note I left. I explained to him it was more or less a list. It wasn’t a complaint. It gave the description of the cart (color, make, etc) and what was wrong with it. That’s it. I then asked him, “If a guard uses a cart, something malfunctions on it, and the guard fails to notify anyone of the malfunction, what happens?” Lester Beam responded that the guard would get in trouble as they’re supposed to report any malfunctions of equipment. I was like, “OK. So, I did that. I reported it. However, I still get in trouble for reporting it.” He said he’d talk to the people at the office to explain to them that I wasn’t complaining but simply reporting the malfunctions. Are you serious?! This is a multimillion dollar company and you mean to tell me that the office personnel that reported me doesn’t have enough common sense to know the difference between complaining and reporting? Had I expressed my feelings on the note, yes, that’s complaining. However, that didn’t occur.
Another issue, which I consider a safety issue are the fires. For whatever reason, during the day, they’d set things on fire. The problem is that whomever was doing this was not ensuring that these fires were out when they left at the end of the day. It wasn’t uncommon to have scrap fires as large as five to seven feet wide and four to five feet high. The embers would reignite the scrap (wood, insulation, and other combustible materials) during the night. The attitude at Ocean Marine Contractors was, “As long as the fire doesn’t get too big it’s nothing to worry about.” The problem is no one could ever tell me how big is too big.
Not long after returning, about 3:00 AM I heard a horn honk at the gate. I went outside to see who it was. There was a man at the gate. He told me that there was smoke coming from the back and that it looked like something was on fire. This man was just a random person driving by and saw the smoke.
The cart had yet to be repaired so I had to drive my car to the back of the site. The fire was a very large pile of scrap metal and wood that was about twenty or thirty feet behind the tool room. The pile was about ten feet wide and at least seven feet tall. At the top of the pile was a fire. The flames were at least two to three feet tall.
I drove back to the guard shack to call Ms. Attecia Cheramie. I informed her of the matter. She asked what kind of materials were on fire. I told her that I didn’t know. All I could tell was wood and possibly metal. She responded, “What do you mean you don’t know?!” I reminded her that after almost a month the cart had yet to be repaired. The cart had a spotlight on it which I would normally use to help in illuminating the dark areas of the yard. That particular are was not very well lit. I told her that I had to use my personal vehicle to get to the area where the fire was.
She asked how big the fire was. I gave her an estimate of the size of the flames (same size as given a couple paragraphs previous). She said that it was too late in the night for her to be able to get someone out there to put it out. That is, too late to call out an Ocean Marine Contractors worker. She told me that if the fire got too big to let her know. I asked how big was too big. She said, “Just when it gets too big.”
From the very beginning I noticed that Mr. Tommie Cheramie would have late night female visitors. I was confused as to my knowledge Mr. Tommie Cheramie was a married man. When I first started working at the site Mr. Tommie Cheramie was quite adamant about me not logging them in. The first time he demanded that I not log them in I asked him, “But I thought we were supposed to log everyone in?” He responded in an angry voice, “I said don’t log them in.” So, I didn’t log them in.
I knew something wasn’t right. I did as he said though. He said the person coming in that I was not to log in. So, when he’d tell me, I wouldn’t log them in. However, any other times a late night female visitor would come in I would log them in. Therefore, there’s a record of these women going back as far as a few years.
Most of the time it was usually a Caucasian woman. A couple of times I’ve seen a Hispanic woman. One time, I was doing rounds. I noticed Mr. Tommie Cheramie’s truck was still there. I still checked the office though. Mr. Tommie Cheramie has two trucks. Sometimes he’d leave one at the office. Therefore, I didn’t know if he was there in his office (which stays locked) or whether he had left one of his trucks there. I checked his door, which was locked. I then checked the two other side doors. I then went to the back area and checked the back door to the conference room. It was unlocked. I opened it to check the inside and noticed a young Hispanic woman in very short shorts (buttocks half hanging out) at the refrigerator. She was getting ice for her glass. She seemed shocked to see me. I just told her to have a good night and shut the door.
I knew Mr. Tommie Cheramie was there after that encounter. A few hours later she left in a small car and he left in his truck. I went back to check the office to make sure all the doors were secure. The back door to the conference room was still unlocked. So, I checked the office to ensure no one was left in the office building. I noticed the door that goes from the conference room to his office was unlocked. That told me that she was in his office. That door is almost always locked.
Another time a small group of Hispanics came to the site around 9 at night. They were in a small red car. There was an older male and female (in their 40s possibly) and a young Hispanic woman. I don’t remember if I logged them in or not. When they left the young woman wasn’t in the vehicle. Therefore, I assumed she was in the back office with Mr. Tommie Cheramie as I had seen him come in a littler earlier in the night. A couple hours or so later they came pick her up. Less than 15 minutes later Mr. Tommie Cheramie left.
The most recent issues started a little over a couple months ago. I started working back at the site around May 2014. I had briefly left to work elsewhere. It didn’t take long for me to notice that NOTHING had changed at the company. The company still had little to no concern for the guards. Not long after returning the AC in the guard shack started to go out. This was a common occurrence at the beginning of every summer. The AC sucks in TONS of dust every day. Ocean Marine Contractors would never send anyone to clean it out. You can clean the filter but you have to pull the AC out and hose out all the dust every so often. Since this was never done the AC would burn out.
About a month before I got fired the security guard site supervisor notified Ms. Attecia Cheramie of the issue. Ms Attecia Cheramie said she’d buy a new AC. When I last worked the site the AC still had not been replaced. Sometimes it was a bit stuffy in the guard shack. On the Company Profile tab you can see an exact picture of the guard shack. Now an AC (5,000 BTU) should cool that small of a space with no issues.
I was told that when the issue first started to occur before I returned to the site the site supervisor was given a fan. The fan was a very small fan (about a four inch diameter). That can’t even cool off a person with it right in front of them. The supervisor ended up bringing her own fan to put on the desk. Then, to remedy the AC not putting out, the site supervisor put a box fan in front of the AC to try and force the cool air farther as the AC was hardly blowing. The picture below was the setup when I last worked at the Ocean Marine Contractors Gibson, LA site. You can see the pic below how it was setup.
About a month after I started back at the site the cart malfunctions. While driving the cart the struts went out. After about a month the cart still wasn’t repaired. I asked the mechanic what the holdup was. I commented that all they had to do was buy the part and put it on. He said the company didn’t want to spend that kind of money. In other words, Ocean Marine Contractors is too cheap to buy parts for a cart that’s required in order to do rounds.
After they "fixed" the cart the site supervisor left a note on the desk for me. It read as following:
Still kind of hard to turn the wheel, the pedal sticks sometimes and you may have to turn off the key if it won’t stop.
During the time that the cart was being repaired the mechanic said that I could use the orange cart with the green light on top of it. I went to check the cart out. I started the cart. I then went to check to make sure the headlights work. Headlights are required for nighttime driving. There’s quite a few areas on the site that are dimly lit. Unfortunately, there was no switch to turn the headlights on. I turned the ignition switch off. The cart didn’t turn off. It kept running.
I called Ms. Attecia Cheramie in regards to the matter. She said she’d call the mechanic. A few minutes later she called me back. She said that I had to pull on a string on the passenger side of the cart. That was the only way to turn the cart off. You can see in the picture below the only way to turn the cart off. Once again, Ocean Marine Contractors rigging things up in an unsafe manner.
After two years of off and on reporting of the accelerator pedal sticking the mechanic was finally admitting that it would stick. Previously the mechanic kept saying that he never saw any issues with the cart. What got to me was the fact that he’s saying the cart’s fixed but yet is admitting the accelerator pedal sticks. To compound this issue the breaks do NOT work on the cart. They have no worked for almost two years. Another issue Ocean Marine Contractors failed to repair or even acknowledge. Below is a picture of the exact sticky note left for me by the site supervisor.
This occurred on the weekend. The following morning I notified the site supervisor that I was not using the cart. I refused to drive an unsafe cart. I commented to her that I was thinking of contacting OSHA. That Monday morning she notified Lester Beam of the issue. When I returned that evening she stated that Lester Beam had talked to the safety man and that the matter was being looked in to. I was completely shocked! For two years I had been reporting safety concerns about the cart. Nothing ever got doen. It took me refusing to do rounds for Lester Beam to finally do something.
I thought that maybe things were looking up. Maybe the cart would be repaired or replaced. After all, the cart needed to be replaced. Not only did it have multiple safety issues but the cart required to be plugged in to a battery charger to keep the battery charged on it. Unfortunately, from then on, every Tuesday when I went pick up my check there were new accusations and drama from Lester Beam and his company.
I have compiled a basic chronological listing of the events that transpired.
- June 17, 2014 – Mr. Beam stated that it was reported to him that I was short-tempered with someone. Mr. Beam refused to give any details of what was said or even when the alleged short-tempered incident occurred. Mr. Beam also attempted to use damages in the guard shack that had existed for well over a year as “proof” of my short-temper. Most of the damages, caused by others, he had known about for the duration they existed.
- June 24, 2014 – I was written up for kicking a hole in the wall and for sleeping on the job. The hole was an accident that he knew about for a few weeks but all of a sudden wrote me up for it. Mr. Beam, along with Mr. George Tingle, brother-in-law of the owner of Ocean Marine Contractors, made false allegations that they caught me sleeping. Writeup stated that next infraction would result in dismissal. That was my first and only writeup in almost four years.
- July 1, 2014 – Brenda Beam claimed I was being moved to the Morgan City, LA site as all the guards were being moved around. All the guards were not moved around.
- July 8, 2014 – My employment was terminated for the same reason as on the writeup, even though no new infractions occurred.
On July 9, 2014 I sent a certified letter to Mr. Tommie Cheramie in regards to his brother-in-law, Mr. George Tingle, making defamatory and slanderous statements about me sleeping on the job (view letter). He received the letter the next day (view USPS tracking or view return receipt). To date I have received no response from Mr. Tommie Cheramie. I can only assume that Mr. Tommie Cheramie does condone the immoral, unethical, and illegal actions of his brother-in-law, Mr. George Tingle.
Once the National Labor Relations Board completes their investigation of Lazer Claims Investigations and Security Services and I’m finished having Ocean Marine Contractors properly investigated by OSHA, then I will be seeking the appropriate legal action against Ocean Marine Contractors, Mr. Tommie Cheramie, and Mr. George Tingle for defamation of character and slander (LA R.S. 14:47).
There are currently no updates for this report.