LA guestworkers expose forced labor on Walmart supply chain – 6/5/12

Louisiana guestworkers expose forced labor on Walmart supply chain

Crawfish workers report forced labor, discrimination, wage & hour violations to Dep’t of Labor

NEW ORLEANS, LA—Walmart supplier C.J.’s Seafood has subjected 40 Mexican guestworkers on H-2B visas to forced labor, wage and hour violations, and discrimination, according to a worker complaint to the Department of Labor to be filed on June 6. The workers detailed their charges and called on Walmart to eliminate forced labor among its crawfish suppliers at a press conference at a New Orleans-area Sam’s Club at 12pm CT on June 6.

The workers went on strike from Breaux Bridge, Louisiana-based C.J.’s Seafood on June 4, reporting that the employer and supervisors have forced them to work up to 24-hour shifts with no overtime pay, locked them in the plant, threatened them with beatings to make them work faster, and threatened violence against their families back in Mexico after workers contacted law enforcement out of desperation.

C.J.’s Seafood sells an estimated 85% of its crawfish to Walmart’s Sam’s Club stores.

While C.J.’s Seafood general manager Michael Leblanc has subjected guestworkers to forced labor, he has also helped drive an industry-wide effort to block new Department of Labor rules for the H-2B guestworker program that would protect guestworkers and U.S. workers alike. Leblanc is director of the Crawfish Processor’s Alliance, which sued the Department of Labor to block the new rules.

The workers are calling on Walmart to:

  1. Cancel its contract with C.J.’s Seafood to show that it won’t profit from forced labor in Louisiana.
  2. Reveal all the guestworkers on its Gulf Coast supply chain so the National Guestworker Alliance can ensure they are safe.

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