Speaker Calls for SCSU Students to Stand Up for Exploited Workers
ST. CLOUD -- The 6th annual Global Goes Local Conference wrapped up Tuesday at St. Cloud State University, featuring various guest speakers and events to bring to light perspectives on the immigrant experience in Minnesota.
Saket Soni, executive director of the National Guestworker Alliance in New Orleans, delivered a presentation called "The New Economy: Organizing Immigrant Guest Workers and Day Laborers."
"The purpose is to tell stories that would inspire these students to join with workers and act for a better life, better standards and dignity at work," Soni says.
Soni shared several stories of the hardships guestworkers and day laborers face -- including long hours, minimal pay and personal injuries.
"It was beautiful," says Stephen Thompson, a retail worker from St. Paul who shared his story at the event. "It's a step to getting more speakers to come out to show what the public can do about [fighting for] fairness in the workplace."
Students in attendance were encouraged to share their stories and relate to some of the struggles guestworkers experience. Soni says the two-day conference is a good eye-opening experience for students to see that these problems hit closer to home than many may think.
"I think it's great that students are committing a few days in the year to think about workers' rights," Soni says. "What I heard from these students is that many of their parents and families are these workers -- so it's about them, not about somebody else."