By Tatyana Walker, a Fall 2013 Leadership Conference Education Fund Intern
Two Jamaican guestworkers described how employment abuse turned their American Dream into a nightmare, at a recent event hosted by The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the NAACP and the National Guestworker Alliance (NGA).
Shellion Parris and Denise Cameron, both Jamaican natives, were recruited to work for Mister Clean Laundry and Cleaning Services in Florida through an H-2B temporary immigrant visa to the United States. They came to the U.S. in search of a well-paying job that would improve their current financial status and help them to support their families. Instead, the guestworkers where hit with more than $2000 in fees for travel, and were faced with $300 rent per person to sleep on the floor in a two bedroom apartment with 15 other occupants. The guestworkers were left with $0.00 paychecks because of the additional fees that Mister Clean deducted for things such as housing and uniforms.
Denise and Shellion expressed the horror of these conditions and the need for their fellow guestworkers to organize and push back against their abusive employer when faced with threats of deportation and eviction. Denise and Shellion stand among several guestworkers who decided to speak up despite the odds. Watch them tell their story below:
Video by Avril Lighty, Social Media Associate