Signal International Lawsuit, Lockheed Martin to bring jobs, Tech Futurist

Feb 19, 2015

          A company financially backed by the Retirement Systems of Alabama is on the hook for nearly all of a 14 million dollar lawsuit. Five Indian guest workers have been awarded the money for damages by a federal grand jury.  The workers were defrauded and exploited in a labor trafficking scheme by a gulf coast marine services company, an immigration lawyer and an Indian Labor Recruiter.          

The company Signal International, which the RSA has an almost $200 million dollar investment in is responsible for $12.2 million of the settlement.

According to a news release… Signal used the U.S. government’s H-2B guest worker program to import nearly 500 men from India to work to repair damaged oil rigs and related facilities in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina,. The workers each paid labor recruiters and a lawyer between $10,000 and $20,000 or more in recruitment fees and other costs after recruiters promised good jobs, green cards and permanent U.S. residency for them and their families.

Lockheed Martin is expected to add over 200 jobs at their facility near Troy.

Governor Robert Bentley announced earlier today that Lockheed Martin will be expanding their operations in Pike County, near Troy.

Bentley says the facility is expected to add around 240 new jobs in the next five years. Alabama will be investing $2.5 million dollars for infrastructure upgrades at Lockheed Martin’s facility.

In return, the defense contractor is expected to invest around $55 million dollars in the Pike County facility in the next five years.

Lockheed Martin’s Pike County facility manufactures high-tech missile systems including joint air-to-surface standoff missiles and terminal high altitude area defense missiles.

The University of Alabama is looking at what its own future might look like.

The College of Communication and Information Sciences is hosting a series of speakers to help set a course to better serve its student body.  The first of those speakers is Jerry Michalski**. He’s a technological futurist who has advised companies like Best Buy and tech startups like Twine and Evernote.

Michalski spoke at the University last week. He says some of the problems facing universities today actually start far earlier in our country’s school system.

“It turns out that we imported the Prussian military education system from Bismarck into the U.S. And we wiped out a whole bunch of highly productive one-room schoolhouses all over the country, educating pretty good citizens. And then we industrialized the whole thing.”

Michalski argues that this industrialization of the school system bleeds into higher education as well, and causes a marked decline in students’ interest and creativity in solving large problems.

The next speaker in this series will be Clifford Lynch, director of the Coalition for Networked Information, who will be on the UA campus February 25 and 26.