At the behest of lobbyist Jack Ambramoff, Tom DeLay has worked to protect special labor laws for Saipan. For years DeLay has “fought against imposing immigration restrictions and the federal minimum wage on Saipan, part of a U.S. territory in the Pacific Ocean.”
Last month in the Galveston County Daily News, DeLay denied reports that workers were being abused:
“Incredible lies” was the way House Majority Leader Tom DeLay described charges that some foreign workers on Saipan labored in sweatshops in the 1990s while others were forced into sex slavery.
Carmencita Abad, a woman who worked in Saipan for six years, says it’s DeLay who has it wrong. In a telephone interview Abad said:
My answer is, Mr. DeLay, I am that person. I am an example of an individual who can prove that the accounts of sweatshop labor and forced prostitution are not just allegations but true accounts of working conditions in the Marianas Islands when Mr. DeLay traveled there and turned a blind eye to our misery.
DeLay’s denials are also contradicted by “two federal agencies and by congressmen from both parties that the charges were true.” Abad detailed that horrendous treatment of women on the islands:
Women were fired for being pregnant. And to keep her job, any pregnant woman would either go to an illegal abortionist or try to induce miscarriage by drinking herbal potions or falling down on purpose. Women who are fired from work have no way to support themselves aside from the sex trade. There’s no way to feed yourself aside from that.
As these abuses occurred, Jack Abramoff was paid $4.5 million to represent corporations who did business on the island. His job was to do whatever it took to convince politicians like Tom DeLay to keep things exactly the same. And unfortunately for Carmencita Abad and others like her, he succeeded.