Fri
Aug 13 2010
05:20 pm

Workers for a Smyrna company TDOT contracted for landscaping say they are being treated to horrible conditions, according to this report from the Daily News Journal. One worker, here on a work visa, was "rescued" this week by a group based in New Orleans. It's a truly grim tale - TDOT is trying to distance itself from the company's actions.

From the report:

A Mexican guest worker says a landscaping company with Tennessee state contracts and a federal stimulus loan guarantee held him and fellow workers like indentured servants, confiscating their passports and subjecting them to constant surveillance by managers who were often armed.
---
At the company housing in Smyrna, 13 or 14 people are lodged in a small house with one bathroom and no beds, Jimenez said. Workers built their own beds, he said. They each pay $100 a month rent, which is deducted from their pay.

They routinely were driven to the office at 6 a.m. and sometimes did not return until 8 p.m., but were not paid for any of the time spent waiting for assignments, going between the office and worksites or cleaning and maintaining the equipment, Jimenez said. Paychecks were often for only about 25 hours of work a week.

TDOT spokeswoman Julie Oaks said in an e-mail that most of the claims made about Vanderbilt Landscaping were outside the purview of the Transportation Department, but it was preparing to review the company’s payroll records

Full story here.

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Bbeanster's picture

This is so sad. This kind of

This is so sad.
This kind of modern slavery goes on in many places. I've read horrific stuff about the sugar cane fields in Florida.

fischbobber's picture

Maybe I'm becoming a cynical

Maybe I'm becoming a cynical old curmudgeon in my old age, but this sort of stuff is really beginning to make me angry. These workers ARE the companies product and they treat them like used discount weed-eaters. The idea that those that sponsor wealth are worth more than those who create it is killing this nation. It's time Tennessee got rid of it's "right to minimum wage" laws and made ourselves a closed shop state. Workers have got to stand up!

michael kaplan's picture

that could be a question for

that could be a question for the next gubernatorial debate: do you favor rescinding the tennessee 'right to work (for less)' law?

fischbobber's picture

It SHOULD be a question in

It SHOULD be a question in the debate.

michael kaplan's picture

that a candidate can

that a candidate can simultaneously favor arizona's immigration laws and support tdot's contracting policies suggests that he favors the 'new slavery'. i suppose the question is: who's formulating the questions?

michael kaplan's picture

13 or 14 people are lodged in

13 or 14 people are lodged in a small house with one bathroom and no beds

it's called 'making do with less.' when state government contracts out services - and there are no safeguards built into the contract, like the guarantee of a living wage - this is what you get.

Joe P.'s picture

Nobodies

"Nobodies" by reporter John Bowe (which i did write about here) has even more grim stories of the same kind of practices in Florida and Texas and more. It reveals how such tactics have become far, far too common for US businesses.

bizgrrl's picture

TDOT spokeswoman Julie Oaks

TDOT spokeswoman Julie Oaks said in an e-mail that most of the claims made about Vanderbilt Landscaping were outside the purview of the Transportation Department,

It's great when they say this, it's not within their control. Well, sure it is. They hire the companies. They can set the criteria on who they do business.

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