Over 500 trafficked Filipino migrant workers were brought to New Orleans, Louisiana, United States to work for the major oil exploration corporation Grand Isle Shipyard (GIS). The recruitment of the workers began en masse following the devastation of New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, which necessitated widespread rebuilding throughout the region. Among the many illegal abuses the Filipino workers suffered at the hands of GIS were being forced to work for six to seven days a week, 12 to 14 hours a day without overtime pay with thousands of dollars in overpriced, unlawful “room and board” deductions unlawfully withheld from their paychecks. GIS forced the Filipino employees to work for up to four months straight offshore on oil rigs, while American co-workers were allowed to leave the oil rigs after the completion of their shifts each day. The Filipino workers were threatened with firing or being deported if they requested a day off or complained about working conditions. Onshore, Filipino workers were locked in bunkhouses at night and even on their days off, held prisoner until the beginning of their next shift. Now, over 100 Filipino workers in Louisiana have filed a class action lawsuit against GIS. They are also seeking accountability from a Philippine recruitment group in Louisiana called D&R Resources as well as a crewing company in the Philippines called DNR Offshore Crewing, which works with GIS to recruit Filipino workers.
More than 4,500 Filipino leave the Philippines daily to find livelihood abroad. This is due to the root causes in Philippine society composed of U.S. imperialism, bureaucrat capitalism, and feudalism that has stifled the development of the country’s industries and infrastructure leaving the small amount of wealth in the hands of the 1%. As migrants, Filipinos are exposed to the social and economic conditions in the host country, typically exploitative especially in the cases of undocumented workers.
Filipino workers employed by GIS suffered various forms of abuse and discrimination including: labor abuse, wage theft and exploitation, unlawful deductions, isolation and violation of freedom of movement, violation of privacy, stolen tax refunds, violation of freedom of religion, threat of deportation, and unsafe working conditions.
The case of the Filipino workers against GIS has brought over 100 Filipino workers together to fight for their rights as workers and migrants, has the potential to bring up to 500 Filipino workers together in a class action lawsuit against GIS, and can broadly galvanize our community and allies to fight for migrants and workers rights. For the next five months (Jan 2013-May 2013) BAYAN USA will engage in creative ways to advance the Justice for the GIS Filipino workers nationally. To accomplish this, we must intensify our education and propaganda work to expose GIS and the working conditions of migrants in the US in particular, the lack of accountability of the Philippine government in the numerous cases of abuse of migrant workers around the world, and the Philippine government’s Labor Export Program as the root of the problem.
National Campaign Calls
Shut Down GIS
Repeal Anti-Worker Labor Laws
Stop Trafficking Our People
Reclaim Stolen Wages and Tax Refunds
Justice for Avelino Tajonera and all victims of GIS exploitation!
Additional BAYAN USA Calls
Workers Rights are Human Rights!
Human Rights for All!
Exploitation is a Crime! Shut Down GIS!