PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — After the release of a new Netflix documentary, a Bay County commissioner is responding to allegations the film made about his business practices.
The documentary, called “Immigration Nation,” asserts that commissioner Tommy Hamm has not paid immigrant workers hired by his contracting company, Winterfell Construction.
On Tuesday, Hamm said those claims are unfounded.
“These workers are being exploited no doubt,” Hamm said. “They’re being exploited by Netflix for subscriptions. It’s total fabrication, it’s defamation and they’re using it to profit from it.”
The series features a group called “Resilience Force,” which represents immigrant workers; many of which say Hamm never paid them.
“Not just one worker has this complaint,” said Saket Soni, who founded the Resilience Force and appeared in the documentary. “A number of workers had these complaints.”
Soni said Hamm should be held responsible, but Hamm said he doesn’t know any of those workers, and that subcontractors are responsible for paying their own workers.
“We tried to help them find out who the proper sub was that hired them and help them get their money, but they were totally uncooperative,” Hamm said.
He added that Resilience Force representatives asked to meet with several different commissioners in 2019 to talk about passing an ordinance to make the area a sanctuary city for illegal immigrant workers. He said commissioners did not agree to that, and he believes that is part of the group’s agenda.
Soni said they never asked to pass an ordinance about making it a sanctuary city, but rather asked for the commission to adopt policies to protect workers from wage theft and provide them with the proper safety equipment.
In a written exchange, Hamm’s lawyer asked the Resilience Force to provide a list of names and the amounts owed to each person. Hamm said they’ve never received that list.
Soni said it’s not that easy.
“We’re not going to provide him with a list of names so that he can go after them,” Soni said. Hamm said his family has received death threats following the allegations and he plans to sue.
Soni said he hopes they can all meet to work it out, but that violent threats toward Hamm need to stop.
“No one deserves that,” Soni said. “I know I speak for every worker in hoping that Mr. Hamm’s family is safe and secure. We certainly do not wish upon him unpleasant messages.”