The Man Camp AKA The Profit Center
April 13, 2015 2:22 PM   Subscribe

"Post Hurricane Katrina, a whole new American dream was designed for some [South Asian] Indians — how to get trapped in a guarded labor camp by an American company".
posted by ursus_comiter (12 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
Holy shit.
posted by Ragini at 2:49 PM on April 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

This quote stood out for me: “I accompanied him out there, and he's extremely impressed, saying he had never seen anything like it… And that the incoming workers would probably think this was like being at the Taj Mahal.”

umm.. the Taj Mahal is a mausoleum. And the workers, being Indians, are aware of this. "oh! if only i had a nice tomb to curl up next to for the night!", said no one ever.
posted by techSupp0rt at 2:57 PM on April 13, 2015 [3 favorites]

This sort of thing is very common in places like Dubai or on American military bases wherever labor laws are poor (even by American companies, who run it through enough subcontractors that it'll never stick to them), there was a This American Life a while back about it but I can't seem to find it.

It's crazy that similar things are happening here.
posted by JauntyFedora at 3:05 PM on April 13, 2015 [2 favorites]

"Get in line and come here legally" indeed. These workers are people who tried to do the right thing and look where it got them.
posted by zachlipton at 3:07 PM on April 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

The punchline is, he was trying to go to America.
posted by Meatbomb at 3:30 PM on April 13, 2015

What bothers me most about things like this, and they happen all over America, is that the people taking advantage of these workers must know they're doing wrong. They know that it's immoral to charge a thousand dollars a month for such accommodations. They've heard “Sixteen Tons,” or at least have heard, "I owe my soul to the company store." For them to act all hurt and aggrieved just adds insult to injury.
posted by ob1quixote at 4:47 PM on April 13, 2015 [4 favorites]

They know that it's immoral to charge a thousand dollars a month for such accommodations. They've heard “Sixteen Tons,” or at least have heard, "I owe my soul to the company store."

They've heard it. They just think, Hm, I wonder how much I could get for a bunch of souls...
posted by Etrigan at 5:30 PM on April 13, 2015 [2 favorites]

This isn't the first company to do this exact thing. This American Life covered a company called John Pickle (audio here) that also lured Indian workers to the US, confiscated their passports, effectively held them prisoner, paid them less than minimum wage ($2 an hour!). They had to actually stage a breakout and seek refuge with a local minister.

And the CEO claimed he was doing them a favour, because in his mind everyone in India was a starving street urchin.

These two cases are so similar I thought they were the same one. How many more are out there?
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 6:54 PM on April 13, 2015 [3 favorites]

They know that it's immoral to charge a thousand dollars a month for such accommodations.
I once went into Manchester with such a bourgeois, and spoke to him of the bad, unwholesome method of building, the frightful condition of the working-peoples quarters, and asserted that I had never seen so ill-built a city. The man listened quietly to the end, and said at the corner where we parted: "And yet there is a great deal of money made here, good morning, sir."
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 7:36 PM on April 13, 2015 [5 favorites]

How grotesque. I hope that the other Indian workers also get a generous settlement, and that it's not exhausted by the first group of plaintiffs: those men deserve a lot of compensation.

You know, I didn't expect more, and worse, stories about Katrina to still be coming out. Reluctantly, I wonder what else still hasn't bubbled up. :7(
posted by wenestvedt at 7:13 AM on April 14, 2015

Whenever I see e-mail addresses like in the picture at the top of the article, I like to google them to see where I end up. The first match for the immigration lawyer takes me to an (unintentionally public) contact list for a Yacht Club. I guess I shouldn't be too shocked that he would belong to such a thing.

On an unrelated note, while I'm not going to link because doxing isn't cool, I wonder how the members of the yacht club would feel knowing that their e-mail addresses were all public like that.
posted by parliboy at 10:22 AM on April 14, 2015

So I was curious about that, parliboy, and went and looked it up. The funny thing is, I've been to that yacht club, and it ain't no "Taj Mahal", in fact, I'd probably have described the place as being downright frumpy. Certainly before Katrina, I don't know if they rebuilt it as a palace afterward (I seem to recall BSL/Waveland got hit pretty hard and I know that Biloxi gussied up their YC when they rebuilt). Anyway, this doesn't have much of anything to do with the post, because that guy is clearly a transcendent asshole, but really, when you live on the coast belonging to the yacht club isn't anything special. You don't even have to own a boat to belong.
posted by Hal Mumkin at 6:29 PM on April 14, 2015

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