The commission said in a statement that the company brought the Thai workers to the US in 2002, at which point the workers were held against their will, their passports confiscated, their movements restricted and were given no pay. Some of the workers were also housed in small apartments without electricity, water or gas.
The statement said that “at least17 of the workers were told if they tried to leave the location where they were being forcibly held, the police and immigration officials would be called to arrest them.”
The commission contended that all of the workers were made to pay exorbitant fees to the recruiting companies Kota Manpower and Hi Cap Enterprises that ranged from $12,000 to $15,000 to land them a job at Trans Bay.
In the end, however, only nine of the welders were sent to work at Trans Bay and the others were sent to Los Angeles and Long Beach to work without pay at Thai restaurants owned by the recruiting companies.
The three-year consent agreement between the EEOC and Trans Bay says that the steel company will:
- Provide monetary relief for each of the claimants;
- Guarantee work on the Bay Bridge Project;
- Provide housing for the claimants who agree to work for Trans Bay, including a housing stipend;
- Pay for tuition and books at a local college for training as a welder;
- Provide sponsorship, if required, to continue to work in the US and certify claimant welders;
- Guarantee minimum pay and a base pay once the claimants complete the training period;
- Pay the claimants’ relocation costs, including reimbursement for travel.