More than 200 guest workers from India settled their labor trafficking lawsuits against the Mobile, Alabama–based shipbuilder Signal International, with award of $20 million for their work after Hurricane Katrina. The federal lawsuit alleged that workers were lured to work for Signal with false promises of green cards and permanent U.S. residency. Signal filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy this week, and shipyards will continue under oversight by the bankruptcy court.
The initial $14 million award was the first verdict against Signal, although the company faced 12 labor trafficking lawsuits coordinated by Freedom Network member Southern Poverty Law Center and filed on behalf of over 200 workers.
Signal workers paid between $10,000 and $20,000 to recruiters and were then required to live in company-owned housing at a cost of $1,050 per month for a double-wide trailer size home serving up to 24 men. Because of their debts and the parameters of their visas, the men could not leave Signal to work for other employers once they learned of the work conditions. Some workers who brought forth initial claims against Signal in 2007 were detained and deported by the company. To read further about the Signal ruling, click here.
Signal International has since issued a public apology, stating they were “wrong in failing to ensure that the guest workers were treated with the respect and dignity they deserved.”
Congratulations to all who fought this case of labor trafficking and succeeded in winning justice for the workers!