Workers and John Pickle Company meet behind closed doors

Monday, July 22nd 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

We don’t know whether 53 men from India reached a settlement with the John Pickle Company in their labor lawsuit.

Both sides sat down for mediation Monday and the judge ordered them not to talk to the media. News on Six reporter Patrina Adger says this was the first time John Pickle and his former employees have seen each other face-to-face since the workers walked off the job five months ago.

After four and a half hours of mediation talks, 7 Indian nationals and their lawyer walked out of Tulsa's federal court Monday afternoon without making a comment.

They met with John Pickle and company representatives to discuss a resolution to a lawsuit brought on by his former employees. Fifty-three former workers filed a lawsuit in February claiming John Pickle paid them less than minimum wage and made them work in slave like conditions. Former employee Shaji Ak, "and our food is not better and sleeping in bad conditions also in the workplace harassed some of them."

The workers want to be compensated for what they call months of abuse and financial hardship. They haven't received a paycheck since leaving their jobs in February, so they've had to work odd jobs, but the money isn't enough to provide for their families back in India. Supporter, Mark Massey: "Just alone they spend $3,000 to come here and to sustain families while their home. They borrowed from uncle and aunts so they can meet their needs right now. I hope Mr. Pickle will come to the table with a reasonable and fair offer the men will feel good about."

If settlement is not reached, the case will go to trial in October. The workers have also heard rumors the John Pickle Company might file for bankruptcy, but we don't know if that's true and how it would affect this lawsuit.