On May Day, as we celebrate solidarity with workers around the world, here’s a timely reminder that their rights are always under fire: 20 Latinx immigrant workers in Michigan say they were fired for participating in one of the “Day Without Immigrants” protests that took place around America in February.
According to a Monday report from the Detroit Free Press, the ex-employees of EZ Industrial Solutions are appealing their firings to the National Labor Relations Board, accusing the company of dismissing them for participating in a political protest after previously threatening workers with a week-long suspension.
All but one of the workers fired were Latina women; the other was a Latino man. Two days before the planned February 16 day of collective action, “the employer coercively questioned employees about any potential plans to observe, support, or participate in demonstrations surrounding a ‘Day Without Immigrants,’” the charge against the company, which was filed by the Sugar Law Center on behalf of the workers, read.
It also accuses the employers of threatening to sic immigration authorities on the workers, some of whom may be undocumented, even after they were fired.
“A worker said: a supervisor came to my house asking: ‘How are you affording an attorney? Don’t you know the company is going to send ICE, have ICE be involved?’” Tony Paris, an attorney with the Sugar Law Center, told the Freep.
Paris said workers were previously never required to inform supervisors if they weren’t coming into work, and were allowed to not show up for multiple days.
“The employer never cared,” he said. But that changed when word started circulating about the Day Without Immigrants.
The company maintains it did nothing wrong.
“The law is quite clear that employees can’t just not show up to work when they’re expected, and also that they are not free to participate in political, non-work related protests during their work day without consequences,” EZ operation’s manager Jordan Yoder said in an email to the Free Press.
News of the charges comes as a fresh round of immigrant rights strikes and rallies is taking place across the country. These actions promise to be even bigger than the ones in February.
So remember, today and every day, that the fight for workers is far from won.