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  1. #1
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    CEO: No more temporary foreign workers for Signal

    CEO: No more temporary foreign workers for Signal
    Friday, March 28, 2008
    By CHERIE WARD

    PASCAGOULA -- Signal International President and CEO Richard Marler said Thursday that his company will no longer hire temporary foreign workers.

    His comments came as about 100 Indian laborers formerly employed by the company demanded in Washington that their country help stop what they call human trafficking.

    "This should be a good news story about a company that toed the line, and it just didn't turn out that way," Marler said. "One reason it didn't turn out that way is the whole H2B program is flawed. Congress should require licensing for the recruiters."

    Signal sponsored the workers' temporary visas through a federal program -- H2B -- to supplement its labor force in its Pascagoula and Orange, Texas, yards, which were diminished by hurricanes Katrina and Rita. About 280 foreign workers were hired in Pascagoula in October 2006 and about 200 for work in Texas.

    Signal is an oil rig construction and repair company.

    About 100 of the workers quit their jobs March 6 and over the last eight days have traveled to New Orleans, Jackson and Washington, D.C, in protest of their treatment by the company, the worker's spokesman, Steph-en Boykewich said Thursday.

    The workers, through Boykewich's organization, the New Orleans Workers Center for Racial Justice, filed a class-action lawsuit March 7 in federal court, accusing Signal of exploiting and defrauding Indian employees who worked at its facilities.

    The workers say they each paid recruiters $20,000 after they were promised permanent U.S. residency to work as welders and pipefitters for Signal.

    Instead, they said, they received 10-month guest-worker visas and were forced into inhumane living conditions at company facilities. In the lawsuit, the workers accuse Signal of subjecting them to "psychological coercion," threats of deportation and overcrowded living quarters.

    Marler said the accusations are unfounded. Still, they have gained considerable interest, and Marler said he's been fielding calls from news organizations, including the BBC network.

    "If we were keeping them in lock-down like they claim and mistreating them, then they would still be here," Marler said. "We wanted these workers here. Why would we join the program and not do all we could to keep them happy?"

    Marler said Signal provided catered meals, 24-hour transportation services, Internet access and other amenities.

    Marler said he has received no complaints from employees working at the Texas yard. He said the impact of the workers' departure in Pascagoula was minimal, and local people are filling the positions.

    The U.S. Department of Justice decided last week it would not proceed on two discrimination complaints filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center on behalf of Joseph Jacob Kadakkarappally and Sabulal Vijayan, Indian workers Signal terminated in 2007.

    "Based on the investigation, this office has determined that there is insufficient evidence of reasonable cause to believe the injured parties were discriminated against ... ," Patrick Shen, deputy special council for the Justice Department, wrote in a letter to Signal.

    "If they had found something, they would have filed their own charges," Marler said. "This is the first step in the unraveling of all this."

    Marler said about 100 Indian workers remain at the Pascagoula yard.

    "They've been loyal to us, and we'll be loyal to them," Marler said. "We'll keep them here as long as we can."

    Marler said foreign workers on a H2B visa can remain in the U.S. up to 30 months.

    Boykewich said the workers' lawsuit against Signal also names Global Resources, owned by Michael Pol of Pascagoula, and other recruiters.

    Pol's attorney, Jimmy Heidelberg, declined to comment Thursday.

    Boykewich, like Marler, said companies that recruit foreign workers through the H2B program should be better regulated.

    "There should be licensing involved," Boykewich said Thursday, as the workers in Washington met with India's ambassador to the U.S., "and companies who abuse the program should no longer be allowed to participate."

    Workers after the meeting said the ambassador, Ronen Sen, appeared to take their complaints seriously, but that they were not satisfied.

    "What we need is action, not just symbolic assurances," said one of the workers, Rajan Pazhambalakode.

    Marler said the Indian workers who left Signal should be considered illegal immigrants, because they are no longer working for the company that sponsored them.

    He praised a bill signed by Gov. Haley Barbour this month that will require employers to use an electronic verification system to check the legal status of a foreign worker before they are hired.

    "We use a similar program here," Marler said. "Why would companies not want to use a verification system to keep from hiring these workers who are now roaming the country without visas or green cards?"

    Reporter Cherie Ward can be reached at cward@themississippipress.com or 228-934-1442. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

    Copyright 2008 gulflive.com. All Rights Reserved.
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    Mississippi mistreatment: workers not satisfied with envoy
    March 28th, 2008 - 11:37 am ICT by admin - Email This Post Email This Post

    By Arun Kumar
    Washington, March 28 (IANS) Indian ambassador Ronen Sen has assured a group of Indian workers protesting alleged human trafficking and slave like treatment at a US shipyard that he would do all he could to protect their rights. But the workers said they were not satisfied. The assurance came at a three-hour long dialogue Thursday with about 100 workers from Signal International’s shipyard in Mississippi who came to Washington after an eight-day “journey for justice
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  3. #3
    Senior Member miguelina's Avatar
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    This is the downside of guest workers in the US. They think nothing of using our own laws for their gain.

    How can 100 Indians stay with Signal, happy in their jobs; while another 100 decide to protest in DC?

    Some got the idea that protesting for their "rights" would give them "special" status perhaps?

    They can sue the recruiters in US courts, demand their money back, then GO HOME!
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    "

  4. #4
    Senior Member lccat's Avatar
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    They just look around and see what the ILLEGALS get away with the help of our Elitist Politicians, their Elitist Contributors, the Chamber of Commerce, now Big Labor Unions, and other Special Interest Groups! So can you blame them for attempting to join in the conversion of the United States into a Third World Country.

  5. #5
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    Marler said he has received no complaints from employees working at the Texas yard. He said the impact of the workers' departure in Pascagoula was minimal, and local people are filling the positions.
    And there, folks, is the crux of the story.

    ...Question is... Why didn't Signal seek out those local workers to begin with?
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  6. #6
    Senior Member Gogo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PhredE
    Marler said he has received no complaints from employees working at the Texas yard. He said the impact of the workers' departure in Pascagoula was minimal, and local people are filling the positions.
    And there, folks, is the crux of the story.

    ...Question is... Why didn't Signal seek out those local workers to begin with?
    Exactly Phrede.

    AND

    Marler said the Indian workers who left Signal should be considered illegal immigrants, because they are no longer working for the company that sponsored them.

    He praised a bill signed by Gov. Haley Barbour this month that will require employers to use an electronic verification system to check the legal status of a foreign worker before they are hired.

    "We use a similar program here," Marler said. "Why would companies not want to use a verification system to keep from hiring these workers who are now roaming the country without visas or green cards?

    Well why don't you call your Congressional representatives and tell them to get the Save Act passed and enforced.
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  7. #7
    Senior Member SOSADFORUS's Avatar
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    I had the same thoughts "Phred"

    Code:
    Marler said he has received no complaints from employees working at the Texas yard. He said the impact of the workers' departure in Pascagoula was minimal, and local people are filling the positions.
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  8. #8
    Senior Member Gogo's Avatar
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    Copied, printed, faxed to Mississippi federal Representatives, Pelosi, and my own Congressman.
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