Community Organizations Nationwide Converge in New Orleans for Fact-Finding Mission in Support of Exploited Grand Isle Shipyard Filipino Guestworkers

Media Advisory for February 20 – February 25
Contact: Katrina Abarcar (202) 656-0739

Community Organizations Nationwide Converge in New Orleans for Fact-Finding Mission in Support of Exploited Grand Isle Shipyard Filipino Guestworkers

More than 50 supporters and migrant rights advocates will participate in
activities throughout the weekend to back Filipino migrant workers standing up against
discrimination, trafficking, wage theft and other abuses

On Friday, February 22, more than 50 supporters and  advocates from across the country will join together in New Orleans for a Solidarity and Fact-Finding Mission to support Filipino migrant workers who have died or were injured or exploited while working for Grand Isle Shipyard (GIS). The attention to the November 16, 2012 Black Elk Energy Co. oil rig explosion, which killed three Filipino migrant workers and wounded several others, brought to light a lawsuit filed by former Filipino guestworkers charging GIS of abusive and exploitative working conditions akin to slavery.

In addition to being made to work under unsafe conditions, the migrant workers alleged that they were paid approximately $5/ hour for 10-14 hour days with no overtime. They were also deducted $1000- $3000/ month for employer housing that consisted of 4-6 workers sharing a single 10 feet by 10 feet room. Bunkhouse lockdowns, a 10:00 PM curfew, constant surveillance from security cameras, and limited communication with the outside world were also enforced. Workers also endured discriminatory practices from their employer such as restrictions on religious practices and threats of termination and deportation if workers failed to comply with their employer’s strict rules.

In light of the tragic Black Elk explosion, GIS Filipino migrant workers and their families have spoken out against the flagrant abuses and injustices they have suffered. Their campaign has garnered national and even international attention in the Philippines and is continuing to gain momentum.

Several national organizations, including the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON) , International Migrants Alliance-USA, and the National Guestworker Alliance, answered the workers request to help make public their struggle by planning a “Solidarity and Fact Finding Mission” in Louisiana that starts on Friday, February 22.

“This is one of the most significant campaigns of my lifetime,” states NAFCON president, Terry Valen.  “These brave oil rig workers, trafficked from the Philippines, are standing up for their rights as workers, as migrants, and as human beings against slavery, trafficking, wage theft, fraud, and other forms of abuse, and exploitation – right here in our backyard in the year 2013!”

A delegation driving down to New Orleans from the northeast will also host a forum and press conference during a stop in North Carolina on Wednesday, February 20.

The agenda for the delegation includes the following events:

WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 20

5:00-5:30pm Press Conference with Southern Workers Assembly
Location – Exxon Mobil Gas Station, 1010 Raleigh Rd, Chapel Hill, NC 27514
6:00-8:00pm Community Forum with Kasama: Filipino American Organization of University of North   Carolina-Chapel Hill
Location – Murphy Hall 314, Univeristy of North Carolina,  209 South Rd Chapel Hill, NC 27599

SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 23

4:00-6:00 PM Public Forum and Sharing with GIS Workers & Mission Delegates
Location – Danna Center, Loyola University, New Orleans
7:00-9:00 PM Freedom Concert and Cultural Program
Location – Danna Center, Loyola University, New Orleans

SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 24

10:00 AMCatholic Mass Celebration with GIS Filipino Workers & Mission Delegates
Location – Danna Center, Loyola University, New Orleans
12:00 PM   Caravan from New Orleans to Lafitte (Manila Village)
1:00 PM     Solidarity Mobilization and Program at Manila Village in front of Townhall of Lafitte

** To attend public events or to interview delegation members or workers, please contact Anne Beryl Corotan at (516) 901-1832**

WHO:  Former GIS Workers, the Justice for Grand Isle Shipyard Filipino Workers Campaign, and Filipino and other community and worker organizations from across the country
WHAT:   Solidarity and Fact-Finding Mission to support Filipino GIS workers and their families
WHEN: Friday, February 22 – Monday, February 25
WHERE: Danna Center, Loyola University, New Orleans, LA 70118 and Manila Village in front of Townhall of Lafitte

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Solidarity & Fact Finding Mission at NOLA

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