Former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell addresses an audience at Bloom Energy’s launch on Feb. 24, 2010. (Photo courtesy of Bloom Energy via Flickr under Creative Commons license. License terms below)
As discussion mounted over the issue of an expanded guest worker system in an immigration reform package, a company connected to former Secretary of State Colin Powell found itself in hot water in connection with the employment of Mexican workers in the U.S.
Farm workers toil in a field in July 2012 near Oxnard, Calif. Guest worker abuses are said to be widespread, from lower-paid agricultural and service jobs to ostensibly professional-level nursing, teaching and high-tech positions. (Photo courtesy of Alex E. Proimos via Flickr under Creative Commons license. License terms below)
U.S. District Court Judge Lucy Koh recently ordered that Silicon Valley-based Bloom Energy Corporation fork out nearly $64,000 in back pay and damages to 14 workers from Chihuahua, Mexico, who were taken to California to refurbish power generators.
The court decision stemmed from a U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) probe that found the workers were paid in Mexican pesos the U.S. equivalent of $2.66 per hour, or a wage that is more typical of foreign-owned maquiladora plants in Mexico dedicated to manufacturing products for export.