Plantation life, 2012

The slave trade in this country has been dead for more than a century and a half, right? Tell it to “guestworkers,” and to millions of American citizens who can’t find jobs that pay a living wage:

For most people in Louisiana, cracking the shell off a crawfish, sucking the head, and swallowing the tail meat is a joyous part of what it means to call this place home. But peeling crawfish is not so fun for guestworkers from Mexico, who allege that they are facing slave-like conditions in a Louisiana plant.

Eight striking guestworkers, who say they are sometimes forced to peel and boil crawfish for up to 24 hours straight without overtime pay, outlined the alleged abuses in a rally outside of a Sam’s Club in Metairie on Wednesday, June 6th. That same day, they filed complaints with the Department of Labor and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against their employer, C.J.’s Seafood of Breaux Bridge, La., on behalf of the forty guest workers employed there. C.J.’s Seafood sells an estimated 85% of its crawfish to Walmart, the largest retailer in the United States, and owner of Sam’s Club.

The workers cited abusive treatment from Michael Leblanc, the general manager of C.J.’s Seafood. Leblanc is also head of the Crawfish Processors Alliance, which is fighting the Department of Labor’s recent efforts to improve pay for H-2B guestworkers. Leblanc could not be reached for comment. reported that a Sam’s Club spokesperson said in an email that the company was investigating the allegations…