A special message to NGA members on the Signal victory – 2-21-15

February 21, 2015

Congratulations! After 8 years the Jury and the Court are standing alongside you and your families and the National Guestworker Alliance, your lawyers, and so many other friends, allies, and organizations who have joined to support you in the last eight years. 

At NGA, we were not surprised on Wednesday February 18, 2015, when a federal jury found Signal, Malvern Burnett, and Sachin Dewan liable for labor trafficking in the first case to go forward in the Court.  

You told us the truth in February 2007 in the church in Pascagoula, you joined the National Guestworker Alliance, and we have been with you on the road to justice since that time. 

The road to the court in New Orleans was long and at times lonely. You marched, sat on hunger strike, and talked to the people who make the laws. And you have always told the truth. And over time more and more friends, allies, and organizations have come to understand. And now even the jury and the court have agreed.   

We stood with you when you risked being fired and deported to have secret meetings in the church in Pascagoula, and when you escaped out of the Signal man camps and threw your hard hats back at the company gates. We stood with you when you reported Signal to the Department of Justice and when you protested in front of Malvern Burnett’s offices in New Orleans. We marched with you from New Orleans to Washington DC exposing surveillance by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. And we stood with you on Hunger Strike for 31 days in front of the White House, Indian Embassy and the US Capitol building.

Through these and many other brave actions over eight years, you exposed how Signal and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) were working together and through your bravery and courage you won recognition from the government and won protections from Deportation for you and your families.

We want to celebrate and congratulate you and everyone who worked hard to make all the moments in this campaign happen including this sweet victory. 

We celebrate the work of all the allies who came with us after the walkout all the way from New Orleans to Washington DC to help keep everyone safe from ICE.  

We celebrate SPLC and the other lawyers for all the hours of legal work on the court case. 

We especially celebrate Jobs with Justice for standing and fighting with us at every step of the way and opening all the support of their members and organization to help the campaign win.  

We celebrate the pastors who have stood with us and given sanctuary–  the African American Religious leaders of the Beloved Community Center in Greensborough North Carolina who helped win the support of many members of Congress, Reverend McDonald in Atlanta who opened his church gave us Sanctuary after we exposed that ICE was following us on the Satyagraha, Rev. Grant Stevensen and sister Darcy in Fargo who brought so much support in a difficult time. 

We also celebrate all of our brothers and sisters in the Labor movement from the AFL-CIO and SEIU who came and sat with us on the blue tarp in front of the White House and who helped build the power we needed to win. 

And most of all we celebrate you and your family members’ bravery in this long inspiring fight. Everyone of you has played a part and together you have immeasurable strength.  

But the struggle is not finished.  Just as you built your campaign on the shoulders of the NGA members before you, many other guestworkers still find themselves trapped in deep debt, living in man camps under threats of deportation. 

We believe you can and know that you will lend a helping hand to those workers who are still struggling. Even as your victories continue to come in you have a key role to play in defending the rights of all workers and defending immigrants from unjust attacks from immigration police. 

And we will also continue our work with you to force the Indian Government to change it’s policy which continues to unjustly wives and children from husbands still waiting to be reunited since 2007 and causes hardship to many who need to travel freely between India and the U.S. to be with family.  

We look forward to celebrating with you and to continuing our work together with you and your families.  May your victory be an inspiration to all migrant workers in the U.S. and around the world who are fighting forced labor, discrimination and workplace abuse!

With Love and Solidarity,

JJ Rosenbaum
Saket Soni
Jacob Horwitz
Daniel Castellanos
Jan Collatz
Colette Tippy
And all your brothers and sisters at the National Guestworker New Orleans Workers Center

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