April 26th, 2006 05:28 EST
A Day Without an Immigrant
May 1st has been set as another day when immigrants from all over the country will take the immigration reform debate back to the streets. Organizers of the immigration marches are promising an even bigger protest, this time including boycotts, general strike, and those who cannot attend have been urged to wear a white armband to indicate their support for the cause.
After millions of people took over the streets of Phoenix, Dallas, New York, Salt Lake city, Philadelphia and Washington on April 10th to express their anguish over the proposed immigration reform that could potentially bring tough restrictions and other adverse consequences to undocumented immigrants in the country. Congress and many state legislatures haven`t been able to conceive provisions to satisfy the large group of immigrants that currently call the U.S. their home.
While consensus in the matter of immigration reform is not reached, companies across the country suffer with the impact of absenteeism. Not knowing what to do during past months` protest, some companies opted to fire employees that missed work. Many companies were required to reinstate workers pressured by March organizers, employment laws, and fear of negative publicity.
In Detroit, for instance, 21 meat cutters lost their jobs as they missed work to attend an immigration rally last month. After some advocacy groups became involved, the company agreed to reinstate the employees with the condition that the staffing company who hired them could prove that they were legally eligible for employment.
According to Jackson Lewis labor and immigration attorney Jon Spitz, organizations should analyze carefully the ideal response when workers decide to participate in the rally. He suggests, How employers respond affects not only the individuals taking part in the actions, but also the employees who do not. The response also sets the tone for how a situation may be handled in the future. "
Spitz also suggests several steps to consider, such as communicating to staff the need for advanced requests for time off, and discussing the importance of proper coverage for all shifts, discussing company`s position with immigration causes, and consulting with a legal counsel prior to taking any disciplinary action against employees.
As immigrants prepare a larger and more organized rally on May 1, advocacy groups are well prepared to protect the participants` jobs by scheduling meetings with employers and discussing the impact and need of a comprehensive immigration reform.
Note: The author of this article is no longer affiliated with theSOP