BAYAN-USA Offers Support and Solidarity for New Orleans Mission to Demand Justice for Trafficked Filipino Oil Rig Workers

For Immediate Release
February 21, 2013

Reference: Jessica Antonio, Secretary General, BAYAN-USA, secgen@bayanusa.org

BAYAN-USA Offers Support and Solidarity for New Orleans Mission to Demand Justice for Trafficked Filipino Oil Rig Workers

New Orleans, LA – From February 22-25, representatives of the progressive Filipino alliance BAYAN-USA will be joining over 40 delegates from all around the U.S. to conduct a fact finding and solidarity mission in New Orleans, Louisiana, as part of the Justice for the Grand Isle Shipyard Filipino Workers (J4GISFW) campaign. They plan to interview Filipino oil rig workers about their experiences of labor trafficking and dangerous working conditions. These workers are joined by over 100 other Filipino workers in a class action lawsuit against their former employer Grand Isle Shipyard–a labor supply corporation based in Galliano, Louisiana–for charges of wage theft, labor trafficking, human rights abuses, racism, and discrimination.

“In the midst of high-profile talks about U.S. immigration reform, this fact finding mission will expose and oppose the U.S. immigration system for what it truly really is,” states Jackelyn Mariano, Deputy Secretary General of BAYAN-USA, who has joined the mission. “It is a deliberately broken system that neglects the rights and welfare of migrant workers as well as American labor in order to produce corporate super-profits.”

Since 2005, Grand Isle Shipyard has been colluding with D&R Resources, Inc., a labor recruitment agency based in the Philippines, to attract droves of skilled Filipino workers, including welders, pipefitters, and scaffolders into the United States. Often, workers are trafficked under fraudulent contracts that promise high pay and safe working conditions. In reality, many workers were placed to work on dangerous oil rig platforms in the Gulf of Mexico run by companies that are guilty of hundreds of labor violations. One such company is Black Elk Energy, which is responsible for a platform explosion on November 16, 2012 that killed three Filipino workers and severely injured three others. In addition, Filipino workers face grueling 14-h