Monday, April 23, 2007

Migrant Workers

Excellent (albeit long) piece in the NY Times about Migrant Workers

This might seem like an odd story to focus on, but I want to go into some detail about this article. I'm going to write some of this post tonight and some later. Some of it will be about offshore life. Some of it will be random thoughts.

How much would you sacrifice for your children? Would you go halfway across the globe for years at a time to make sure your kids had food, clothing, and a good education? Millions of Filipinos would.

I've actually worked around them a lot. They are all over South Louisiana. Over the past 5 years, they've come in to the country in increasing numbers. Lots of companies just can't get enough welders, pipe fitters, etc. locally. Crappy local schools and a huge outmigration of the best and brightest from South Louisiana has taken its toll on the workforce. Companies have had to bring in foreign workers to fill the gap. These guys are paid American wages (from what I understand, they're even on par with union wages). I've worked and even lived beside them, but never really thought too much about their lives until reading that article.

On one of my recent offshore trips, I had to stay in the "temporary" quarters that were added to increase the number of workers that could live on this particular platform at any given time. The quarters have actually earned the moniker, "the Ghetto" from the crew.

"The Ghetto"

They actually aren't that bad. They're better than some of Tulane's dorms! In each of the sub-units, there are two bedrooms with a common bathroom (that's a little grungy, but isn't as bad as it could be). 8 people total per sub-unit. Most of the name comes from their crappyness in contrast to the main quarters (some of which are like the Hilton).

One big advantage of the Ghetto is that it's HVAC system is on a different thermostat from the main quarter. The Ghetto's HVAC system can't keep the quarters cooler than 68 degrees. That's a good thing, because the thermostat-nazi's on the platform always keep the air on max. In the main quarters, it's kept around 60 degrees with a constant gale blasting out of the ducts! Ever try to sleep in 60 degrees with only a thin blanket? It sucks!

Anyway, I was assigned to the Ghetto and slept with crew of Filipino workers. It's was a little odd, but nothing too weird. You had a language barrier. They were pretty respectful of others, so it didn't really bother me. I know that all sounds a little vague, but I don't want to put down something that could get me into trouble (you never know with some of that stuff).

Anyway, I'll write more later. Didn't know about all these guys have to go through, though.

1 comment:

Leigh C. said...

I'm looking forward to the rest of it...