Photo: The area where the larborers worked
A number of immigrant laborers are feeling “free” after winning a $60 million against a Houston company they say made them indentured servants.
In 2008, a group of 26 immigrants traveled to Houston to work for Coast to Coast Resources, who promised the workers jobs and work visas. They were to be laborers near the Houston Ship Channel. They were told they’d be paid $15 to $22 an hour for 30 months.
Shortly after arriving, the primarily Vietnamese workers were presented with a “fine print” surprise. According to the lawsuit filed by the workers, per their contract, each worker was to pay the American company as much as $7,000 to get a job in the U.S.
The lawsuit also stated that each of the men was to pay $125 a week to live at the Pasadena apartment complex were they lived in squalor. Additionally, they had to pay $75 a week for the transportation to work.
According to the lawsuit the “Defendants threatened Plaintiffs that if they had contact with outsiders they would be arrested or subject to violence because, according to the Defendants, they would be the subject of scorn in America given the fact they were citizens of a communist country.”
After only working a few of the 30-month contract the men were fired. In response, the workers filed a lawsuit, and while they won $60 million and are happy to be free of the company, saying “justice prevailed,” they still have their eye on the American dream.
Because the work visas were never given, the men are now getting assistance from Professor Naomi Bang and students from South Texas College of Law. Despite the poor treatment the men received, they still wish to stay in Texas, and help their families.
Prof. Bang stated, “What they came for is to stay here and provide a life for their children and spouses who are still waiting in Vietnam.”