Friday, September 3, 2010

Hundreds of undocumented workers hired for Enbridge spill cleanup

BATTLE CREEK, Mich. - An oil spill cleanup subcontractor from Texas hired to work on cleanup of the Line 6B spill in Michigan bused in hundreds of undocumented workers to Battle Creek until Enbridge and the master contractor fired the subcontractor.
The workers had been working 100-hour weeks in unsafe conditions, an investigation by the Michigan Messenger found.
The Texas company, Hallmark Industrial, brought hundreds of workers to Battle
Creek from the Gulf Coast, putting them up in hotels and putting them to work cleaning oil-soaked islands and shorelines along the Kalamazoo river. The workers were expected to work 12 to 14 hour shifts, seven days a week, for which they receive $800 a week - in cash - a hotel room, and food while on the job sites.
On Aug. 28, a reporter for the Michigan Messenger visited the site where the workers were picked up each morning. Half of them admitted to being undocumented workers. All asked not to be identified.
On Aug. 29, a busload of 150 new workers arrived by bus from Texas. The immigration status of the new workers was unknown, but the conditions under which they were to work was confirmed by Hallmark workers and by multiple photographs of the worksite.
Workers were kept on the river for 12 to 14 hours a day, seven days a week, and photographs show what appears to be a number of violations of safety standards. In those photos, undocumented workers are seen covered in oil and mud getting food and water. In one photo, a worker covered in oil is seen sitting on the white cooler from which workers get their water.

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