Saturday, December 17, 2005

"Workers in New Orleans Denied Pay, Proper Housing and Threatened with Deportation"

On Democracy Now

"Well, the workers that I encountered were men who had been recruited from a homeless shelter in Atlanta. There was several dozen of them. I actually met them at a tent city that had sprung up there that was housing people who had nowhere to live. Individually they started coming up to me and all told me the same story, being recruited by a gentleman who promised them, you know, good hourly wages doing hard labor, hauling debris, for the most part, some construction work in New Orleans. They got on this school bus that was provided. They came down, and most of them had worked several weeks, and each week when they asked for their pay, they were told, “It’s coming. It’s coming.” Eventually they got fed up and they left. I went to the house where they said that they had all been put in rather undesirable conditions, thirty or so men to the house. And there were more men there. They all told me the same story. [...] The big problem with these men was just finding out who was actually supposed to pay them. Their assumption, of course, was that the man who had recruited them and promised them the pay should pay them. However when they asked him for the money, he said, “Well, I can't pay you because the company that recruited me hasn't paid me.” So I spoke to that company, and it said, “Well, the company that’s supposed to pay us hasn't paid us, so we can’t pay them.” I followed this all the way up the chain, and that is where the problem lies, with the number of subcontractors that are doing business in the Gulf region. A gentleman from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers I spoke to said, “It’s not unusual to have fifty subcontractors working beneath the prime contractors.”

AMY GOODMAN: And who are these prime contractors?

TINA SUSMAN: Well, there are several. In the case that I followed, the prime contractor is ECC out of Burlingame, California. It has about a $500 million contract with the Army Corps of Engineers. (more)


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