More Filipino workers join class suit vs US firm

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This aerial photograph shows damage from an explosion and fire on an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico, which took the lives of three Filipino workers and injured three others. Close to 100 Filipino workers have joined a class action suit against a Louisiana-based company Grand Isle Shipyard, charging it with exploitative working conditions, a migrant rights group said Sunday, Feb. 24, 2013 (Monday in Manila). AP PHOTO

LOS ANGELES—Close to 100 Filipino workers have joined a class action suit against a Louisiana-based company, charging it with exploitative working conditions, a migrant rights group said Sunday (Monday in Manila).

The number of workers who joined the lawsuit against Grand Isle Shipyard (GIS) and a recruitment agency continued to rise after the explosion that rocked an oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico on Nov. 16 last year, which took the lives of three Filipino workers and injured three others. The workers had been subcontracted through GIS, which in turn was contracted by the oil platform owner, Black Elk Energy.

“From 17 workers, it’s now close to 100 (who have joined the lawsuit) and we’re hoping more workers will break their silence and come forward,” Julia Camagong, International Migrant Alliance regional representative for the United States, told the Inquirer in a phone interview.

Camagong was part of a national caravan supporting the workers, which made its way from Miami, Chicago, New York, Washington, D.C., and New Jersey to New Orleans, Louisiana, this week. The caravan made a stop Monday (Manila time) at the historic Manila Village in Lafitte, New Orleans—the first settlement of Filipinos in the United States. The Filipino settlers escaped from Manila-Acapulco galleon ships in the 1700s.

“Coming here (to Manila Village) is very symbolic,” said Katrina Abarcar, coordinator of East Coast-based group Katarungan. “The Filipinos who settled here were also victims of forced labor.”

Abarcar said the caravan participants were on a “fact-finding and solidarity mission to bear witness to the conditions of Filipino shipyard workers who were trafficked and abused. We are supporting them as they fight for their dignity and rights.”

At least 15 former GIS workers joined the caravan. The workers declined to be interviewed because of the pending litigation.

In a lawsuit filed last year in the US District Court in New Orleans, former GIS workers alleged that recruiters hired by GIS promised them wages of from $16.25 to $24.37 an hour, housing and food. Instead, the workers said they were paid as little as $5.50 an hour, were overworked and were threatened with deportation when they complained.

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  • BIGButo

    When it comes to money everyone wants a piece of the pie

  • akramgolteb

    Forced labor? Eh may contrata kayong pinirmahan at sinabi mismo na kung ayaw magtrabaho ibabalik sa Pilipnas eh di hindi forced labor ito, may choice kayo. Kung sinabi na lang na gusto lang kumita ng pera sa pagdemanda maintindihan pa kayo kasi parepareho lang naman tayong mga Pinoy gumigimik para kumita ng pera.

    • Sandy Bulet

      Naiintindihan mo ba ang binabasa mo? Basahin mo ulit and this time pakaintindihin mo na. Pag di mo pa rin maintindihan, basahin mo ulit. Pag wala pa rin, maghanap ka ng magtatranslate para sau.

    • riza888

      According to the court papers that were not mentioned in this article: The lawsuit alleges that the workers were required to sign 2 different contracts, containing differing rates, with the contract containing higher wages complying with federal law filed with the U.S. Embassy in Manila, and a second contract, with lower wages, filed with the companies. “Plaintiffs executed the contracts because they believed that, in order to work in the United States, they had no choice,” according to the suit. “Further, they were deceived and/or otherwise fraudulently induced to sign the contracts with the promise that (Grand Isle Shipyard) would sponsor them for E-2 visas, making them eligible for permanent resident status.”

  • Crazy_horse101010

    doesnt take them long to learn the system. flippino nurses recently filed a multimillion dollar law suit against a dallas texas hospital.

    • Loggnat

      It’s their right and every employees right to file grievances in US court if they can prove that they were wronged. These actions keeps the large businesses honest and makes them think hard before they break any law in the treatment of their employees. They hit them (big business) hard where it really makes them feel it, in their deep pockets.

      • Crazy_horse101010

        to bad it dont work here . try being a foreigner and sue someone

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_T4UWEQIDXLS7RQXY2DDQTV6MNE carol

        Wala palakasan sa court sa america, kung may katwiran at evidencia, mayaman o mahirap talagang may justice, hindi lang yoon, mabilis ang court priocessing/decision.

      • BIGButo

        Big business needs to stop hiring foreigners then they wouldn’t have these problems period.  

  • riza888

    Good for them! US Attorney Gen. Eric Holder should be interested in prosecuting this energy company. This is exactly how workers are treated in China and any number of other countries to which the US taxpayer has been underwriting the outsourcing of jobs for decades. And somewhere, as we speak, a Republican politician is championing these policies as an essential tool in helping America to be more competitive in a global economy, and decrying the tyrannical hand of regulation on those rare occasions it emerges from corporate pockets.

  • boybakal

    More Filipino workers join class suit vs US firm….
    Now, they learned not the hard way but Quick Easy Money.
    Funny….when they were in the Philippines, they always say whatever kind of job, no matter how much is the pay….as long as we can go to the US.
    They easily adapted to the system or they brought what they learned in P.I.

    • batangpaslit

      hehehe….sablay sila. ‘yan ang napala for despising the land of their birth

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