90.9 WBUR - Boston's NPR news station
Top Stories:
PLEDGE NOW
Exploited Labor In The USA

We’ll look at forced labor in America. From a fish factory in Louisiana to the national picture.

Guestworkers peeling crawfish at Walmart supplier C.J.'s Seafood, Breaux Bridge, Louisiana. (National Guestworker Alliance)

Guestworkers peeling crawfish at Walmart supplier C.J.’s Seafood, Breaux Bridge, Louisiana. (National Guestworker Alliance)

The story out of Breaux Bridge, Louisiana sounded Third World.  Guest workers in a seafood processing plant allegedly forced to work 24-hour shifts.  80-hour weeks.  Barricaded in so they couldn’t escape.  Threatened with beatings to work faster.  Bullied.  Underpaid.  Families threatened.  Forced labor.

Last month, Wal-Mart suspended the supplier of crawfish, and the horror stories ricocheted around the country.  But in a bad economy, with the pressure on, exploited labor doesn’t just happen on the bayou.

This hour, On Point:  On the bottom rung.  Exploited labor in America.

-Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Amanda McElfresh, a reporter for The Daily Advertiser in Lafayette, La.

Ross Eisenbrey, vice president of the Economic Policy Institute. Former commissioner of the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

Saket Soni, executive director of the National Guestworker Alliance. He is also executive director of the New Orleans Workers’ Center for Racial Justice.

Ai-jen Poo, director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance.

From Tom’s Reading List

The Times-Picayune “Eight striking laborers protesting the working conditions at a crawfish processing plant in Breaux Bridge met with supporters this afternoon in the Airline Drive parking lotof Sam’s Club, the plant’s main customer. The workers, who came from Mexico on temporary work visas, complained of being threatened with beatings and forced to work long hours peeling crawfish at C J’s Seafood for no overtime pay, said Jacob Horwitz, a lead organizer for the National Guestworker Alliance, which hosted today’s event.”

The New York Times “It is time to banish the idea that forced labor and sweatshop exploitation are problems of bygone eras or distant countries. These conditions exist within America’s borders. On June 29, Wal-Mart said it had suspended one of its seafood suppliers in Louisiana for violating its workplace standards. The action came as an advocacy group for foreign guest workers announced that it had uncovered appalling abuses at the company, C. J.’s Seafood, and at a dozen other Wal-Mart suppliers too.”

Daily Advertiser “Federal authorities are investigating the Breaux Bridge seafood supplier C.J.’s Seafood amid allegations of wage and labor violations and Wal-Mart’s decision to stop using products from the supplier.”

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
ONPOINT
TODAY
Sep 22, 2014
President Barack Obama gestures during a statement in the State Dining Room of the White House, on Thursday, Sept. 18, 2014, in Washington. Obama spoke after Congress voted to arm and train moderate Syrian rebels in the fight against the Islamic State group. (AP/Evan Vucci)

A tough, critical examination of US plans to take on ISIS. Strategy in the hot seat.

Sep 22, 2014
Demonstrators make their way down Sixth Avenue in New York during the People's Climate March Sunday, Sept. 21, 2014. (AP/Jason DeCrow)

Big climate protests in New York before a big UN summit. Activist and author Naomi Klein says change the economy or die. She’s with us.

RECENT
SHOWS
Sep 19, 2014
Joseph O'Neill (courtesy of the author)

Author of “Netherland,” novelist Joseph O’Neill is back, with “The Dog,” on globalization, capitalism, and self-discovery in Dubai.

 
Sep 19, 2014
No campaigners celebrate as results come in at the Scottish independence referendum count at the Royal Highland Centre in Edinburgh,Scotland,Friday, Sept. 19, 2014. Scottish voters have rejected independence and decided that Scotland will remain part of the United Kingdom. The result announced early Friday was the one favored by Britain's political leaders, who had campaigned hard in recent weeks to convince Scottish voters to stay. It dashed many Scots' hopes of breaking free and building their own nation. (AP Photo/David Cheskin)

ISIS and arming Syrian fighters. Scotland rejects independence. NFL turmoil. US troops and Ebola. Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
Our Week In The Web: September 19, 2014
Friday, Sep 19, 2014

Lots of big, contentious topics on the show this week — from Zionism to early education, corporal punishment to development in the Grand Canyon.

More »
Comment
 
Talking Through The Issue Of Corporal Punishment For Kids
Wednesday, Sep 17, 2014

On Point dove into the debate over corporal punishment on Wednesday — as Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson faces charges in Texas after he allegedly hit his four-year-old son with a switch.

More »
2 Comments
 
Our Week In The Web: September 12, 2014
Friday, Sep 12, 2014

In which you had varied reactions to the prospect of a robotic spouse.

More »
Comment