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Immigrants Often Unpaid for Katrina Work

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posted on Nov, 6 2005 @ 04:57 PM
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Immigrants Often Unpaid for Katrina Work


GULFPORT, Miss. -- A pattern is emerging as the cleanup of Mississippi's Gulf Coast morphs into its multibillion-dollar reconstruction: Come payday, untold numbers of Hispanic immigrant laborers are being stiffed. Sometimes, the boss simply vanishes. Other workers wait on promises that soon, someone in a complex hierarchy of contractors will provide the funds to pay them.

Nonpayment of wages is a violation of federal labor law, but these workers -- thousands of them, channeled into teams that corral debris, swaddle punctured roofs in blue tarps and gut rain-ravaged homes -- are especially vulnerable because many are here illegally. After Katrina hit, Armando Ojeda paid $1,200 to be smuggled across the desert border from Mexico, a walk that took several nights. Talk of $10 an hour -- more in a day than he made each week at a computer factory back home -- led him to pay another $1,200 to be crammed in van with a dozen other immigrants and driven 1,600 miles, from a safe house in Arizona to Mississippi.

The passengers were not fed -- Ojeda recalls his mouth watering when he smelled tacos the driver ate -- and were discharged near the Naval Construction Battalion Center in Gulfport, where Ojeda sleepwalked though his first day clearing hurricane-strewn junk. The job was supposed to pay $7 an hour. But six weeks later, Ojeda still hasn't been paid the $600-plus he said he is owed for eight days of dawn-to-dusk labor. Karen Tovar, the subcontractor on the job, acknowledged she hasn't been able to pay dozens of workers a total of about $130,000. She insisted she was not at fault, blaming the way payments can be stalled along a long chain of subcontractors often led by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

At one point, Tovar had 83 workers cleaning the Navy base under a broader, $12 million contract held by KBR, a firm owned by Vice President Dick Cheney's former company, Halliburton. After several weeks without pay, many workers grew frustrated and left. "I've told them, 'When I get paid, you will receive your funds.' And they say, 'When?'" she said. "I'm very sure it's going to be shortly." An Army Corps spokesman said he wasn't aware of any problems with payments. A KBR spokeswoman wouldn't provide details about the base cleanup, referring inquiries to the Navy, which referred questions about subcontractors back to KBR.

Tovar said she knew of other subcontractors who disappeared with their payrolls, and wondered whether her former workers expect she will abscond to her home in North Carolina. "I don't know if they're thinking that I've left and took the money or that I'm trying to hide the funds, because I wouldn't do that," said Tovar, 47. "In my type of work, you're working on trust."

Armando Ojeda is not trusting. He doesn't think he'll be paid, though he remains among the platoons of workers bivouacked along the coast. His goal: to wire his parents in the poor southern state of Chiapas enough money to offset the cost of his trip, which he has come to see as a folly he had to indulge before age or commitments bound him home. "I am stupid for coming," he said, with a smile and shake of the head. "It was a foolish thing, nothing more."

Nonpayment of immigrant workers is not a new phenomenon -- and it doesn't appear to be as much of an issue in New Orleans. With so much work to do and not enough laborers to do it, the market there appears to favor workers, said immigration lawyer David Ware. What's remarkable in Mississippi is the apparent scope of the problem, though it is impossible to quantify. In this beleaguered state, which doesn't have a labor department, the issue isn't even on the radar...

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I think the article says enough....


[edit on 6-11-2005 by loam]




posted on Nov, 6 2005 @ 05:12 PM
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Not saying this is right, but if these are illegals isn't it equally illegal to hire and pay them as it would be to not pay them? If you're entering into an illegal transaction you shouldn't be surprised if the other person tries to stiff you.



posted on Nov, 6 2005 @ 08:09 PM
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Didn't this happen a lot in the 1960's and 1970's? Immigrants were brought in, worked half to death, then deported without payment?



posted on Nov, 7 2005 @ 12:58 PM
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Originally posted by soficrow
Didn't this happen a lot in the 1960's and 1970's? Immigrants were brought in, worked half to death, then deported without payment?


Good ol american style



posted on Nov, 14 2005 @ 12:09 AM
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Originally posted by Senser

Originally posted by soficrow
Didn't this happen a lot in the 1960's and 1970's? Immigrants were brought in, worked half to death, then deported without payment?


Good ol american style



I think thats pretty sad, I mean heres the richest country in the world and we can't even pay men a couple a bucks so that they can go back and feeder families and what not.



posted on Nov, 14 2005 @ 08:54 AM
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Originally posted by Poison

Originally posted by Senser

Originally posted by soficrow
Didn't this happen a lot in the 1960's and 1970's? Immigrants were brought in, worked half to death, then deported without payment?


Good ol american style



I think thats pretty sad, I mean heres the richest country in the world and we can't even pay men a couple a bucks so that they can go back and feeder families and what not.



It's the corporate way - and the law too. Legally, corporations are required to put profits before people.



posted on Nov, 14 2005 @ 08:58 AM
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Originally posted by soficrow
Didn't this happen a lot in the 1960's and 1970's? Immigrants were brought in, worked half to death, then deported without payment?


And so what if they were. Hazards of being Illegal. Illegal should mean you have NO rights whatsoever. Hence the term Illegal!

If one wishes to work and get paid then go through the process.



posted on Nov, 14 2005 @ 09:01 AM
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Originally posted by thermopolis

Originally posted by soficrow
Didn't this happen a lot in the 1960's and 1970's? Immigrants were brought in, worked half to death, then deported without payment?


And so what if they were. Hazards of being Illegal. Illegal should mean you have NO rights whatsoever. Hence the term Illegal!

If one wishes to work and get paid then go through the process.


Traditionally, it's often the employers who arrange the illegal entry - and then, after the job is done, they report the illegals and arrange their deportation too. Without payment of course.

Good trick, no?



posted on Nov, 14 2005 @ 09:04 AM
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So the 12 million illegals currently infecting the US were brought in by Haliburton? Nonsense. Evil corporations built america and now there "spawn" are tearing it apart. The swimer Teddy, Rockafellon, etc, ect, etc.........




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