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Check out this news article about a newly filed class action. (link & text below)
Forestry firms sued over pay, conditions of Mexican workersAssociated Press
MONTGOMERY, Ala. - Three class-action lawsuits have been against forestry companies for allegedly taking unlawful advantage of Mexicans and Guatemalans who do seasonal work in the Southeast.
The lawsuits claim the workers, who are in the United States on temporary work visas, often make less than minimum wage, do not receive overtime pay and work upward of 70 hours a week planting trees.
“The workers are essentially being cheated in fairly dramatic ways and pretty systematically,” Mary Bauer, an attorney with the Southern Poverty Law Center, told the Montgomery Advertiser in a story Wednesday.
The lawsuits, filed by the SPLC in federal court, list as defendants Eller & Sons Trees Inc. in Franklin, Ga., Idaho-based Alpha Services LLC and Arkansas-based Express Forestry. The companies, responding in court filings, have denied the accusations.
Larry Stine, an attorney representing Eller & Sons, said the claims are ludicrous.
Stine said the workers make at least $8.29 an hour planting trees, but they have complained of not being paid for the time they are traveling from where they stay to where they work.
Bauer said the lawsuits represent about 2,000 workers in a major Southern industry. They seek repayment of lost wages for the forestry workers. Bauer said the litigation may be expanded.