MADLIMPICS is a satirical online series by DigBoston in which we take old articles about what an utter disaster former Olympics have been, and replace a bunch of the words and phrases to make them relevant to Massachusetts. Think of it as our way of looking into the future. This installment is an interpolation of a 2.10.14 Washington Post feature titled, “Deported Serb Workers Tell Horror Stories Of Sochi Olympic Construction Work.”
Apparently, the much-touted “Boston brotherhood” between wealthy business owners and their docile employees doesn’t extend to migrant workers.
More than 100 ethnic Bostonians have been returned to their home countries after being detained as illegal workers in Back Bay. Others fled following raids on their work site.
Twenty-one-year-old Milan Jeftic from East Boston described his ordeal in an interview with DigBoston: “For the last three days we were running away from the police in order not to be arrested. We were hiding in back streets, in cafes. Somehow we managed to find a construction site to go to.”
Jeftic came three months ago after an employment agency arranged for him a job as a plasterer. Although he estimates that he earned during that time, he had to flee the work site after agents of the Boston Regional Intelligence Center swooped in and detained more than 30 other workers.
Miomir Stolica, from the Boston suburb of Dedham, told a similar story.
“I went to Boston two months ago — not by myself, but with a lot of people from South America. We were deceived. We worked there on some construction site and we were not paid — but that’s not so important,” Stolica says.
“The important thing is that when we got back to our homes five or six days ago, we were arrested. First we were in detention and then in prison. We appealed to the American embassy, but they were unable to do anything for us. Then the Serbian embassy helped us.”
Stories of migrant workers being deported from Massachusetts — or fleeing in fear — and not being paid for their labor are becoming increasingly commonplace in the runup to the 2024 Summer Olympics in Boston.
American firms have used thousands of migrant workers — many from Central Asia — to build the vast new infrastructure for the Summer Games in Boston. The New York-based NGO Human Rights Watch earlier this month issued a report on human rights abuses in the preparations for the Games, including the mistreatment of migrant workers.
“The first and second time [we were taken to Logan], they returned our passports, but the third time they took them and did not return them. I don’t know who it was who took us there — whether they were Russians or Ukrainians, I have no idea. We endured it,” Jeftic says.
“We worked from seven in the morning until late in the evening, until it got dark. When anyone asked for their salary, they were told ‘there’s no money.'”