Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Foreign workers in the US

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Christian Miller of ProPublica writes:

Rey Torres dreamed of a better life for his wife and five children when he left a neighborhood of wooden shacks and burning trash piles to drive a bus on a U.S. military base near Baghdad.

He hoped to send his children to college and build a new home with the $16,000 a year he earned in Iraq — four times what he could make in the Philippines.

Then, in April 2005, Torres, 31, was killed in an ambush by Iraqi insurgents. His widow and children were supposed to be protected by a war zone insurance system overseen by the U.S. government. They were eligible for about $300,000 in compensation.

But Gorgonia Torres knew nothing about the death benefit and did not apply. When she did learn about the insurance, two years later, it was from a reporter. She has since turned down an insurance company’s $22,000 settlement offer. Her only hope of receiving full compensation is a legal fight that could drag on for years.

"He knew it was dangerous…. He had second thoughts all the time," she said of her husband. "But he’d say, ‘If I don’t go, there’s no way we’ll be able to survive.’"

Torres was among tens of thousands of civilian contract workers from poverty-stricken countries hired to support the U.S. war effort in Iraq and Afghanistan. In case of injury or death, they are supposed to be covered by workers’ compensation insurance financed by American taxpayers. But the program has failed to deliver medical care and other benefits to many foreign workers and their survivors, a Los Angeles Times-ProPublica investigation found.

Previous articles by the Times [1] and ProPublica [2] described how American civilians injured in Iraq have had to battle insurers for medical care, artificial limbs, and other services.

An examination of what happened to foreign nationals has uncovered an even more dismal record. Injured workers have gone without medical treatment and compensation because they were never informed of their right to the benefits. Widows and children have not received death payments for the same reason.

The system relies on companies to make employees aware of insurance coverage and to report deaths and injuries to insurers and the federal government. But some employers have shirked those obligations, and the U.S. Department of Labor, which oversees the program, has done little to ensure compliance, punish violators or reach out to injured foreigners or their survivors.

An analysis of Pentagon and Labor Department records …

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

20 June 2009 at 10:09 am

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