Warned then Fired
A news report that immigrants were unjustly fired for participating in symbolic Day Without Immigrants
In February, UCOMM covered one day strikes across the country where thousands of immigrants participated in a Day without Immigrants. The rallies, organized to protest Trump’s anti-immigrant statements during the campaign as well as his travel ban, were well attended and the vast majority of participants returned to work the next day. However not all employees were welcomed back . Yesterday, a press conference was held with people who say that they were fired for participating in the protest. Read more below.
Some immigrant workers on Long Island said the protest in February dubbed “A Day Without Immigrants” turned into days without jobs, after a Melville distribution and warehousing company fired them for missing work.
Three workers made the claim against the International Warehouse Group in a labor rights charge filed with the National Labor Relations Board. In a separate but related legal action, they are seeking unpaid wages in a lawsuit in State Supreme Court in Nassau County.
They said they worked at the business, which describes itself as “a full-service distribution and warehousing company,” preparing merchandise for delivery for large retail chains.
Two of the workers, Erik Ríos and Juan Barahona, said Tuesday at a Brentwood news conference that they were warned not to join the Feb. 16 protest and were fired the day after they skipped work to support the demonstration. The third worker, Melbi Morales, was not at the news conference.
Company president Jay Joel, in an emailed statement, said, “International Warehouse Group has no knowledge of any person who worked at our facility who was terminated for participating in the Day Without Immigrants.”
The protest stemmed from a social media campaign that encouraged immigrants to miss work and school and refrain from shopping on that day to assert their rights against stricter immigration enforcement measures under President Donald Trump.
“I participated in a Day Without Immigrants to let this country know our worth as Hispanics here,” said Erik Ríos, 32, a Hempstead resident, speaking in Spanish.
The next day, he said, a manager asked workers in the warehouse to raise their hands if they had been to work. Those who didn’t were fired on the spot, Ríos said.
Ríos also said that immigrants at his job site were treated badly: limited to three-minute bathroom breaks, scolded if they stayed a lunch even a minute over the allotted time, or fired if they stopped to rest. “We weren’t treated fairly,” he said.
Elizabeth Sprotzer, an attorney for the immigrant advocacy group Make The Road New York, said the workers were exercising their right “to engage in protected concerted activities.”