This morning the workers held a press event with allies on the steps of the Mississippi state capitol in Jackson:
Sabulal Vijayan said: “We thought we were coming to a country of liberty and justice for all. When we arrived, we found slavery still exists in this country through the guest worker program. Today we challenge Signal International: Don’t bring new guest worker slaves from India. Instead, hire poor and African-American workers from Mississippi to take our place. The Indian welders and pipe fitters will train workers from poor and black Mississippi if Signal will hire them.”
He presented a list of 10 certified Indian trainers from the Alliance of Guestworkers for Dignity willing to train MS workers.
“We don’t just want Signal to hire workers on Signal’s terms—we want Signal to hire workers from Mississipi with a union contract, with fair wages, with health benefits, with immigrant rights, with a chance to move forward and make life better for all of Mississippi,” said Saket Soni.
“We cannot demand dignity and respect for low-wage African-American workers and poor white workers without also demanding the same for all Mississippi workers, including our brothers who traveled all the way from India,” said Jaribu Hill, executive director of the Mississippi Workers’ Center.
After singing a song led by Hollis Watkins, whom the workers shared stories with the previous night, the workers headed off through Jackson on foot toward their next stop: Montgomery, AL.
More pictures up at http://www.flickr.com/nolaworkerscenter.