1982 – 1997
|Preceded by||Lane Anderson Carson|
|Succeeded by||Melinda Schwegmann|
|Born|| April 29, 1950|
New Orleans, Louisiana
|Spouse(s)||Stephanie Price Forster|
|Alma mater||Brother Martin High School|
|Occupation||Radio host; Businessman|
(1) In his second year as governor, Democrat-turned Republican Murphy J. "Mike" Foster, Jr., tapped Forster, his former legislative colleague with a similar last name, to serve as the state labor secretary, a position which, among other tasks, oversees workers compensation.
Garey Forster (born April 29, 1950) is an American radio host who served from 1982 to 1997 as a state representative for the District 98 seat, based in New Orleans. He resigned from the legislature to become the secretary of labor under Governor Murphy J. “Mike” Foster, Jr.
Forster graduated from the all-male Roman Catholic Brother Martin High School. He obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree from Tulane University and has been a fellow of the Institute of Politics at Loyola University New Orleans. He is a past district chairman of the Boy Scouts. Forster is married to the former Stephanie Price.
Forster formerly owned a direct mail company. He completed a specialty training course sponsored by the National Federation of Independent Business.
In 1982, Forster won the House District 99 seat as a Democrat in a special election called because of the resignation of Republican Representative Lane Anderson Carson, who joined the administration of one-term Republican Governor David C. Treen. Forster prevailed thereafter in the regular elections of 1983, 1987, 1991, and 1995. In 1984, he switched his partisan affiliation to Republican. The district was renumbered to 98. In the 1987 nonpartisan blanket primary, also known as the jungle primary, Forster defeated Democratic opponent C. Joseph "Joe" Murray, 7,709 (54.6 percent) to 6,415 (45.4 percent).
In 1991, Forster won the primary outright by defeating three Democrats and an Independent with 57.7 percent of the vote. In 1995, Forster polled 52.6 percent in the primary against a Democrat, Norbert Rome and a Republican challenger, Joyce S. Sackett. On several occasions during the 1990s, Forster was honored by the Alliance for Good Government. He also received the Monte Lehman Award from Louisiana Civil Service and was honored by the French Quarter Business Association for legislative achievements in promoting business. His district included the French Quarter. New Orleans businessman Rob Couhig, a leader in the efforts to revive the Orleans Parish Republican Party, was an early campaign manager for Forster. As a legislator, Forster was a member of the nonpartisan and conservative American Legislative Exchange Council.
Forster was an early vigorous advocate of a ban on cockfighting in Louisiana. In 1990, with the support of animal rights activists, he proposed two bills, one to ban the practice outright and the other to reclassify fowl as “animals” so that they could gain protection through laws banning animal cruelty. "We've been trying to get this thing passed for years, and we'll probably try again ...," Forster said.
A defender of cockfighting, then Representative Raymond "La La" Lalonde, then a Democrat from Sunset in St. Landry Parish, but who later switched parties, said that the practice is ingrained in Cajun heritage: “This is part of their culture and heritage, and they're not going to give up on this issue without a fight."
Cockfighting started in ancient Persia and was introduced into North America in the 18th century. In 1836, Massachusetts became the first state to ban the breeding and training of such birds. Louisiana was ultimately the last state in the Union to ban the practice, and the measure did not take effect until 2008. Only one House member dissented on the 2007 vote to ban cockfighting. The first raid in Louisiana against an alleged cockfighting operation occurred in March 2009 in Sulphur in Calcasieu Parish.
On leaving the legislature, Forster was succeeded by another Democrat who later turned Moderate Republican, Melinda Schwegmann, who in 1991 was elected to a single term as lieutenant governor. Schwegmann thereafter lost a bid for governor in 1995 and an attempt to return to the office of lieutenant governor in 2003.
As labor secretary
As secretary of labor, Forster’s assistant was Raj Jindal, mother of former Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal. Forster worked with Governor Foster to pursue the “one-stop” concept; that is, having different government offices in a centralized location to accelerate access by those needing services. A prototype of the concept was unveiledin 2001 in Slidell in suburban St. Tammany Parish. Forster explained, accordingly: "All of the services that we offer in our regular offices, like computer training, placement services and Internet access, will now be available at the East St. Tammany Job Center. This is just another way that we are making things as easy as possible for anyone needing assistance."
Employers visiting the location can list job openings, recruit and interview applicants, and receive tax credits. They can also gain knowledge about subsidized training programs.
Forster and Foster came under fire from organized labor for having allegedly selected judges for the workers compensation program who were inclined to favor business over employees. The pair denied the charge. Governor Foster said: “All I've ever asked the department to do – as far as anybody we appointed – was just to get good, fair judges, not biased on either side.”
In a typical year at the time, Louisiana had some six thousand disputes over whether employees merit worker’s compensation. Forster portrayed the dispute as the result of labor’s opposition to changes that he launched when he became secretary: “Wake up and smell the coffee... This place is no longer run by the AFL-CIO. It's no longer 'just cut the check.'"
Forster said that he had quickly filled vacant worker’s compensation judgeships without regard to the political views of the candidates. Under Louisiana law, employers must pay all necessary medical costs for injuries sustained while at work. The injured can also obtain two-thirds of their regular salary but with a limit which changes over time. In order to pay such claims, employers either purchase insurance or pool resources with other companies to create a special fund.
Forster and Anthony Patton, listed as a marketing entrepreneur, co-hosted a radio program on New Orleans FM broadcasting 99.5. The website is no longer on-line. In May 2010, Forster substituted for several days for the statewide conservative radio host Moon Griffon, while Griffon was on a cruise in Hawaii.
- Membership of the Louisiana House of Representatives, 1812-2020. Louisiana House of Representatives. Retrieved on October 17, 2009.
- House District 98. enlou.com. Retrieved on October 17, 2009; no longer on-line.
- Louisiana Secretary of State, Election Returns, October 24, 1987.
- Louisiana Secretary of State, Election Returns, October 19, 1991.
- Louisiana Secretary of State, Election Returns, October 21, 1995.
- Couhig Partners, LLC. couhigpartners.com. Retrieved on October 17, 2009; no longer on-line..
- Garry Boulard. "Regional Report: Custom Survives: Cockfighting Dies Slow Death in Tradition-Bound Louisiana", Los Angeles Times, June 14, 1990.
- Louisiana State House Passes Cockfighting Ban. WAFB-TV. Retrieved on October 17, 2009; no longer on-line.
- Louisiana Cockfighting Bust Makes History". hsus.org (March 18, 2009). Retrieved on March 20, 2009; no longer on-line.
- 1999 Louisiana Employment and Wages. laworks.net. Retrieved on October 17, 2009; no longer on-line.
- Louisiana Department of Labor Opens On-Stop in Slidell. workforceatm.org. Retrieved on October 17, 2009; no longer on-line.
- Peter Shinkle (January 14, 2000). The Politics of Workers’ Compensation. injuredworker.org. Retrieved on October 9, 2019.
- Radio Time: Anthony Patton and Garey Forster, accessed October 17, 2009; no longer on-line.