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9 Aug 2013

Iulia Filip, Courthouse News Services (USA)

Hundreds claim Signal International enslaved them for hurricane work

Signal…enslaved and defrauded…foreign workers after charging them thousands of dollars…to be trafficked into the United States to clean up Gulf Coast areas devastated by hurricanes, the workers claim in five lawsuits…In early 2007, Signal fired and deported five of the "camp leaders" for their efforts to organize workers, according to the complaint.  "Early in the morning of March 9, 2007…Signal locked the gate to the camp, blocking the exits," the complaint states. "Signal personnel, including several security guards…identified…five workers…and told them that they were fired and would be deported…[O]ne of the workers…attempted to commit suicide by slashing his wrists…"…Plaintiffs believed, based on Signal's conduct, that requesting improved conditions or asserting their rights to the same would lead to arrest, imprisonment, bodily harm and deportation back to India."…