Last Thursday was “A day Without Immigrants” day. In an organized protest against President Trump’s immigration views and aborted executive order, thousands of immigrants stayed home from work. The idea was to demonstrate their indispensability.
For the immigrants, there was obvious risk associated with skipping work. An employee who turned out to be dispensable might be fired for not showing up. For an employee who is indispensable but replaceable, the risk of termination could easily be higher because in that case, the no-show employee would be intentionally inflicting damage on the enterprise.
Nor could immigrant employees count of safety in numbers. If, collectively, a group of workers is indispensable but replaceable, the risk that a mass “no show” would result in mass terminations might well be considerable.
How did this play out? According to The Hill, more than 100 employees across the nation were fired for skipping work as part of the “Day Without Immigrants” protest:
Employees working at restaurants and day cares in New York, Florida, Tennessee and Oklahoma, among other states, were fired after they did not show up to work to participate in the demonstration. . . .
About 20 employees were fired at Bradley Coatings Inc., in Nolensville, Tenn., after participating in the protest. NBC News reported a statement from the company’s attorney said the employees knew they were risking termination by participating in the protest. . . .
Twenty-five workers at Ben’s Kosher Delicatessen Restaurant & Caterers in Long Island, N.Y., were fired as well. There, police escorted the workers from the restaurant after they returned from the protests.
In addition, according to Fox News:
Twelve Latino employees from the I Don’t Care Bar and Grill in Tulsa, Okla. told Fox 23 News they were fired over text message because they didn’t show up for their shift and failed to let their employers know about their absence. The employees told the station they expected to be reprimanded, but not dismissed. . . .
The restaurant ha[s] already posted on Facebook seeking employees for its open positions.
Meanwhile, Carmen Guerrero, an immigration activist told the Philadelphia Inquirer that six people were fired from their jobs at a Bahama Breeze in King of Prussia for taking part in the protest. Guerrero said when the workers heard of the protest, they decided to join in and when they showed up Friday for work they allegedly were told they couldn’t enter the building. . . .
Encore Boat Builders LLC, based out of Lexington, S.C., had 21 workers who didn’t show up for work Thursday. WLTX-TV reported they were told not to participate in the demonstrations or face termination and when they failed to show up, the company followed through on its threat.
I’m guessing that for every business that fired employees for not showing up, there are a great many that took their lumps without retaliating. According to Reuters, in Washington, D.C., more than 50 restaurants closed down, including some high end ones. Similarly, at the Pentagon about half a dozen food outlets were forced to close after staff members joined the protest
I’ve seen no reports of any firings by these establishments.
It seems, then, that in some locales immigrant workers are both indispensable and irreplaceable at a price employers are willing to bear. If we don’t want more such locales, and the sense of entitlement that seems to prevail among immigrants who reside in them, perhaps we should set immigration policy accordingly.