Immigrant workers rally at Miss. Capitol

Published 7:22 pm Friday, March 21, 2008

About 60 workers from India have called for a Pascagoula oil rig construction company to stop what they claim has been the exploitation of guest workers and to pay fair wages and benefits.

The rally Thursday at the state Capitol in Jackson was to protest “slavery-like conditions” at Signal International, rally leaders said.

The Mississippi Workers’ Center for Human Rights joined with the New Orleans Workers’ Center for Racial Justice at the rally.

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The workers also claim that they were promised residency status in the United States in exchange for labor.

Signal International has said that several federal agencies, including the Labor Department, reviewed the company’s employment practices and facilities and found them in compliance with the law.

The group left New Orleans Tuesday and plans to be in Montgomery, Ala. by Friday. Organizers say they plan to be in Washington D.C. by March 26th. Once there, they hope to meet with U.S. Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee.

A federal lawsuit filed March 7 accuses Signal International of subjecting immigrant workers to forced labor and poor living conditions at its facilities in Pascagoula and Orange, Texas.

Signal International dismissed the suit’s allegations as “baseless and unfounded.”