Saturday, April 19, 2008

The following is reprinted from the website of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), a syndicalist organization that upholds direct action tactics in the labour struggle.
Immigrant Workers Take Direct Action Against “No-Match” Firings
A group of Latino workers, at the Twin Cities-based D’Amico’s & Sons restaurant chain have organized and taken direct action to resist being fired for receiving “No-Match” letters from the Social Security Administration. The workers ­ many who have well over a decade of service for the company ­ have been joined by family members, some co-workers, the Workers Interfaith Network (WIN), Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) and the Twin Cities General Membership Branch of the Industrial Workers of the World (I.W.W.) and others.

D’Amico’s announced that Monday, March 31, 2008 would be the last day of work for 17 employees who had received the “no-match” letters. This appears to be illegal as the Social Security’s “no-match” notices explicitly state that employers should take no “adverse action” against employees based on these letters. “No-match” means a problem has been identified with a worker’s name and social security number not matching. Sometimes this can be due to immigration status, other times a simple typo can trigger the letter. In any case, the legal precedent has been that it was up to employees to correct the issue and not employers. A California Federal Court halted attempts by the Bush administration to penalize employers for having workers with “no-match” letters.

The D’Amico’s workers were determined to fight these unjust firings. On the morning of the 31st, seven kitchen workers at the Uptown store stopped working, approached their manager with a petition signed by their fellow workers demanding their jobs be protected. The workers then sat down together in the dining area refusing to work until the bosses negotiate. A Sit-Down strike! A lively picket rallied in support of the workers outside. Co-workers, including some who had also received “no-match” letters, and others who hadn’t, joined with WIN, SDS and Wobblies chanting, banging on pots and pans, and marching right outside the window where the sit-down strikers sat. Later that day one non-Latino waiter also refused to work and sat with his co-workers in solidarity.

An IWW organized effort to flood the store’s phone lines during lunch hour to inquire on behalf of the workers frazzled management. One caller, who works with Wobblies at a large telecom call center, was threatened by a manager with arrest for asking questions about the “no-match” workers!

When D’Amico’s owners refused to budge from their illegal, unjust and heartless position, the workers responded appropriately. Starting at 6:00 am the next morning a spirited picket managed to turn away three large delivery trucks from the Uptown store, including meat, produce, and general food supplies. This was a significant victory as the trucks were from both union and non-union companies, and the D’Amico’s Uptown restaurant also does the food prep for all their metro outlet stores. Towards the end of the picket a private contractor in his own vehicle crashed the picket line at the back entrance hitting a student supporter.

Since then the workers and their supporters have thrown up pickets at different D’Amico’s locations, and promise to continue their campaign on many fronts.

The IWW, whose participation has been praised by the D’Amico’s workers and WIN, will continue to advocate an industrial based direct action strategy, including outreach to other workers in the company and industry, tactics aimed at hitting the bosses where it hurts, and for democratic control of the struggle by the workers themselves.

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