Over 100 workers across the country were fired after skipping work Thursday to participate in the “Day Without Immigrants” protest.
The boycott was held to show opposition to President Trump’s hardline stance on immigration, including his recent travel ban and plans to build a border wall with Mexico.
Some businesses warned employees beforehand that their jobs would be forfeit if they attended the protest, while others simply fired workers when they didn’t show up for their shifts.
The protest was designed to show how important immigrants are to the economy, but employees need to understand that skipping work – for any reason – has consequences. According to US law, an employer can fire an employee without warning and with no reason given.
Bill McNally, owner of “I Don’t Care Bar & Grill” in Tulsa, OK fired 12 Hispanic line cooks when they failed to show up for work on Thursday. “I’m on their side, but we have rules,” he said. “If you’re going to be late, call in. If you’re not coming to work, call us. That’s the American way.”
Six of the cooks told CNN affiliate KTUL that they didn’t think they would be fired for joining the protest.
McNally said the cooks would not have been fired if they would have called ahead of time. “They just forgot about the other 50 people who work here. If the cooks don’t show up, then servers don’t have jobs and customers don’t eat.”
Six workers were fired from a Bahama Breeze in Philadelphia, but were then rehired “to make it look like nothing happened,” reports immigration activist Carmen Guerrero.
Nashville painting company Bradley Coatings Inc. fired 18 workers after they failed to show up on Thursday. “We are the team leaders directly under the supervisors and they informed us last night that we could not go back to work and the boss said we were fired,” said one of the employees.
According to the company’s attorney, employees were warned in advance that they would be “terminated” if they did not show up for work on Thursday.
Jim Serowski, owner of JVS Masonry in Commerce City, Colorado, also told employees they would lose their jobs if they skipped work Thursday. “If you’re going to stand up for what you believe in, you have to be willing to pay the price,” he said.
Serowski is a longtime supporter of immigrant labor, but he fired 30 bricklayers and a handful of foreman after they failed to show up on Thursday.
He is distraught but not regretful. “I stand by what I believe in. I didn’t do anything wrong,” he told CNN. “They were warned, ‘if you do this you’re hurting the company, and if you go against the team you’re not a member of the team.’”
“I’ve gone above and beyond for these people,” he continued. “No one is going to dictate how my company is run.”
Several students also participated in the protest by skipping school on Thursday. Some parents even took their children out of school to attend the event.
“When he asked why he wasn’t going to school, I told him because today he was going to learn about immigration,” said Bolivian immigrant Marcela Ardaya-Vargas after she took her son out of school to attend a march in Washington. “Our job as citizens is to unite with our brothers and sisters.”
Pro-immigrant protests continued Friday with a “Free the People Immigration March” in LA and a similar march and rally in Dallas.
Editor’s note: I certainly sympathize with the employers in this case. You are free to protest, but do it on your own time. If you are protesting on my company’s time then you are costing me money. That means I’m paying for your protest. No.