A conspiracy indictment was brought last week against a Los Angeles company, alleging forced labor on a chilling scale. Six contractors are accused of a scheme to hold 400 workers from Thailand in virtual slavery on farms in Hawaii and Washington State. The Justice Department says it is the largest human-trafficking case ever brought by the federal government. Just as disturbing is how familiar the accusations are.How do you think the nutters on the right will view this fuckery? They are the ones always bitching and moaning about undocumented workers or the guest worker program...and frankly...this horseshit really makes me want to go postal on someone's ass. If I hear the words free market attached to this story or used to justify this crime, I will take a baseball bat to the individual's head.
The company, Global Horizons Manpower, is accused of abusing the federal guest worker program, known as H-2A, in 2004 and 2005 and luring workers with false promises of steady work at decent pay. The workers, poor men from the Thai countryside, took on crushing debt to pay exorbitant recruiting fees, about $9,500 to $21,000. After they arrived in America, according to the indictment, their passports were taken and they were set up in shoddy housing and told that if they complained or fled they would be fired, arrested or deported.
The case, brought in Honolulu, coincides with the sentencing on Thursday of two Hawaii farmers, Mike and Alec Sou, who pleaded guilty in January to a forced-labor scheme involving 44 Thai workers. The Sous worked with Global Horizons before but are linked to the latest case only by the methods they admitted to using.
Farmworkers have been abused in this fashion for decades and decades m'dear reader. Again from the editorial:
American history is full of examples of large-scale abuses of farmworkers, from the Bracero program for Mexicans in the 1940s to the present day. The Bush administration, which was in charge of the H-2A program at the time Global Horizons is accused of doing its worst, generally turned a blind eye to wage-and-hour enforcement. In its waning days, it issued new rules that gutted worker pay and labor protections in the program.I live in the San Joaquin valley, and I know of this bullshit and how long it has been going on. We, as American's, eat our cheap produce without giving a fucking thought to the human that stood out in the sun for 8 -10 hours to harvest it. The pay scale is dehumanizing and its disgusting...they make pennies while the farmer gets rich off their back breaking work.
In the abuse of legal foreign workers, the numbers vary but the methods are the same. It is slavery without shackles. Its perpetrators seldom have to resort to violence or even threats of violence. Since workers are buried in debt before they even leave their home countries, the threat of being fired and deported is enough.Next time you eat a salad or a piece of fruit...think of the men, women and yes...children that harvested that food for you...and how they are being fucked by their employer and our government. These people have no rights..and that is criminal in and of itself.
To lose a guest-worker job means irreparable harm: destitution, unpayable debt, the loss of mortgaged family land. Under those conditions, a worker will accept any abuse, live and work in squalor and do what he is told. Everyone else — the middlemen; the companies that get “cheap, compliant labor,” in the words of the Global Horizons indictment; and the grocery buyers who eat cheap, fresh produce, subsidized by suffering — is satisfied.