Conducts research and collects data on the global history of labour, workers, and labour relations

"The Slave Next Door"

8 December 2006
Steel Workers, Winold Reiss
LoC digital ID cph.3g0569 (on Wikimedia Commons)

Construction is a labour field that is ripe for trafficking. In 2006, the Trans Bay Steel Company in California was involved in a case of debt slavery. Nearly fifty skilled Thai welders were brought in to be guestworkers, only to find out that they had been enslaved. The usual violations occurred: exorbitant "debt", confiscated passports, shabby living quarters, total restriction of movement, and threat of arrest and deportation. Some workers managed to escape and sought refuge in a Thai temple in L.A. The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission brought suit against Trans Bay Steel. When the case was settled on 8 December 2006, $ 1.4 million in compensation was awarded to the Thai workers.

From: Kevin Bales, Ron Soodalter, The Slave Next Door. Human Trafficking and Slavery in America Today (Berkeley, L.A., 2009) Call no 2010/2766