UPDATED: Boycotts Called for After Workers Fired for Missing Work for 'A Day Without Immigrants' Protests
[UPDATE - The following is a response from Ben's Kosher Delicatessan posted on its Facebook, on the Telemundo story on which this story relies. It is reprinted in its entirety. Affected workers could not be contacted as of yet for counter-rebuttal.
February 20, 2017:
There have been severals reports in the media that are inaccurate stating that Ben’s Kosher Delicatessen & Caterers fired up to 25 employees in conjunction with the “A Day Without Immigrants.” Ben’s issued the following statement on Friday, February 17, 2017:
In anticipation of “A Day Without Immigrants,” Ben’s Kosher Delicatessen Restaurant & Caterers, posted a formal statement to its Greenvale employees on Wednesday, February 15, expressing support for their human rights and requesting that they fill their shift as scheduled on Thursday, February 16.
While some employees opted to participate in the walkout, several others chose to work and, as a result, the leaders of the protest put pressure on the others to walk out, even threatening physical harm to colleagues choosing to work their shifts.
As it is Ben’s mission to provide a safe and welcoming work environment for all employees, company owner Ronnie Dragoon found this to be a cause for immediate dismissal of the employees who made the threats. All other employees involved with the walkout were, and still are, invited to return to their positions with the company.
[Amended to include]: Some of Ben’s Facebook followers have asked for additional information about the employees who have not yet returned to work. Again, with the exception of the employee who made the threats, no one was fired. Some chose not to return to work in support of the employee who was fired. These employees are still invited (being asked) to return to work. Of the 21 of employees who participated in the “Day Without Immigrants," 9 employees have returned to work.]
Workers around the country have been fired for failing to show up for work last Thursday in order to attend "A Day Without Immigrants" protests which took place in cities across the nation. Some media outlets reported that "dozens" were fired, while others reported over 100.
At Ben's Kosher Delicatessen Restaurant & Caterers in Long Island, 25 workers were escorted by police from the restaurant after being fired on Friday, most of whom were undocumented and had worked there for years, according to CNBC. No action was taken against the employer for having undocumented workers.
Protest organizers say that Thursday's actions were meant to highlight the contributions of immigrants to the nation's businesses. Employers said they could not tolerate employees who missed work without approval or not due to illness. It is not clear how many of the workers fired were documented or undocumented.
In response, a storm of Twitter messages and facebook posts called for boycotts of the companies which fired the employees.
The people fired, according to NBC News, included 18 people at Bradley Coatings in Nolensville, Tennessee, an industrial coatings company, Ben's Kosher Delicatessen Restaurant & Caterers in Long Island, New York, and the I Don’t Care Bar and Grill in Catoosa, Oklahoma. Yahoo News reported 21 people fired at Encore Boat Builders in Lexington, South Carolina.
In Oklahoma, KTUL News reported that by the next day, Friday, Facebook posts had already appeared looking for replacement workers for those fired at the I Don’t Care Bar and Grill.
Other companies responded to the nationwide protests by closing for the day in support, or because of inadequate staff. The UK Independent reported that hundreds of McDonald's and other restaurants closed for the day.
Some of the workers, such as the 18 at Bradley Coatings in Nolensville, Tennessee, had said before missing work that they would make up their time on a Saturday or Sunday, but the offers were rejected.