Indian Laborers Committed to Hunger Strike for Justice

By Jonathan Adams May 23, 2008

tkeleher reported on his trip to New Orleans a couple months ago where he experienced the multiracial coalition of workers on the Gulf Coast organizing Indian H-2B guest workers trafficked to the US to work for little money and live in cramped quarters. Sepia Mutiny has been following this story, too. Here’s an update.

In the past year, this group of of workers have really organized, and organized well with the support of the New Orleans’ Workers Center for Racial Justice. On March 6, 2008, over 100 Indian shipyard workers walked from their jobs in Pascagoula, Mississippi, located on the Gulf of Mexico…The Pascagoula workers who participated in the walkout, all highly skilled men from India who had paid recruiters to bring them to work in the U.S., contend that they have been subject to human trafficking. [Samar Magazine] From Mar 18-27, 100 workers held a satyagraha or truth in action, in the tradition of Mahatma Gandhi, traveling from New Orleans to Washington DC, to reveal the truth of the guest worker program that is being used to sanction forced labor by migrants and to further disenfranchise the most vulnerable American workers. [Press Release] On May 14th, the workers launched a hunger strike in front of the White House, The hunger strike ended this past Thursday, after eight days of fasting. Their demands? A continued presence in the US or the duration of the Department of Justice investigation into their case, a Congressional hearings on the abuses of the guest worker program, and a just immigration system. Most importantly, they are organizing to shed light on the abuses of the U.S. government’s H-2B guest worker program.