President-elect Donald Trump has made a fortune off of golf courses bearing his name. At least one has been outed for its treatment of migrant workers.
In a Vice on HBO segment that aired earlier this year, a reporter is shown following a bus of workers employed by a subcontractor hired by the Trump Organization to build the Trump golf course in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE). In his interviews with the migrant workers, reporter Ben Anderson discovered that the workers are brought in from Pakistan and offered $3/hour, to work eight-hour shifts with two hours of overtime.
However, upon arrival, the Trump golf course subcontractor only paid the migrant workers $1.50 an hour, confiscated workers’ passports so they couldn’t leave, and housed them in dangerously unsanitary and crowded dormitories with bathrooms that “didn’t look fit for human beings,” according to Anderson.
“If you can have anything, all you would want is to be promised 10 dirhams per hour (currency of UAE), that’s three dollars roughly, instead of the five dirhams — one and a half dollars — that you are being paid. That’s all you’d ask for?” Anderson asked a group of migrant workers.
“Yes,” they all replied, in unison.
To see whether or not this deplorable treatment of workers was just an anomaly from one “bad apple” employer, Anderson followed another bus of Trump golf course migrant workers to another location, which was a two-hour drive away from the work site. There, he interviewed workers who said that they also had their passports taken, and that they were only paid $231 a month. He also captured footage of a small kitchen in the company-provided living quarters that was meant to accommodate 150 workers.
“It must be very busy in here at dinnertime,” Anderson said.
“Yes,” a worker replied.
ANDERSON: “Is it better here, or in Pakistan?”
ANDERSON: “Can you go home?”
WORKER: “No, no.”
ANDERSON: “Passports taken?”
WORKER: “Yes, they are with the company.”
In response to the story, the Trump Organization declined an interview, but did issue a boilerplate statement that said it had “zero tolerance” for abusive labor practices at any work site for a construction project bearing its name.
“Trump has licensed its name and brand… Trump does not oversee construction and does not employ or supervise any of the companies or individuals who have been retained to work on the building of the project,” the statement read.
While Trump is likely hoping to distance himself from the exploitation of foreign workers in Dubai, Trump himself has repeatedly demonstrated a preference for hiring workers from foreign countries and paying them a pittance for their labor.
In February, the New York Times reported that since 2010, hundreds of United States citizens have applied for jobs maintaining Trump’s Mar-a-Logo golf club in Palm Beach, Florida, though only 17 of those applicants were hired. In the meantime, hundreds of guest workers from Romania and other countries have been hired to work the grounds at the President-elect’s premier golfing resort. One Florida expert criticized the practice as harmful to American workers’ pay.
“You almost have them as indentured servants,” Palm Beach State College hospitality program director Danny Fontenot told the Times. “They affect everyone else’s wages. You can make a lot of money by never having to give your employees raises.”
Trump has also recently come under fire for pursuing visas for foreign workers at the Trump Winery in Virginia, as it appears to be a conflict of interest given that the billionaire real estate mogul is preparing to oversee the United States Department of Labor in less than three weeks.
Tom Cahill is a writer for US Uncut based in the Pacific Northwest. He specializes in coverage of political, economic, and environmental news. You can contact him via email at [email protected], or friend him on Facebook.