Society

Dozens Fired After Skipping Work To Protest Trump

| by Michael Howard

Dozens of employees across the country were fired after skipping work to participate in the "A Day Without Immigrants" protests on Feb. 16.

The nationwide protest was a response to President Donald Trump's controversial immigration policies. By refusing to work or spend any money, the protesters were attempting to demonstrate how essential immigrants are to the national economy.

Jim Serowski, owner of JVS Masonry in Colorado, said he warned his employees of the consequences of not showing up to work.

"If you're going to stand up for what you believe in, you have to be willing to pay the price," he told CNN.

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Serowski, whose grandparents emigrated to the U.S. from Poland, fired his foreman and around 30 bricklayers after they played hooky to attend the demonstrations. He told CNN that his decision had nothing to do with politics.

"It's about work ethic," he said. "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."

Serowski's foreman, Ray, explained that he and his fellow workers took part in the protest to stand up for immigrants who are living in fear of deportation.

"The guys that we have out here that have families that are afraid to go out and get a gallon of milk, get gas, going to get groceries in case they get stopped and deported," Ray told KDVR.

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But as someone who supports immigrant labor, Serowski said he felt personally offended when his employees didn't show up to work.

"I've gone above and beyond for these people," he said. "No one is going to dictate how my company is run."

In South Carolina, 21 employees of Encore Boat Builders were fired after skipping work in favor of the protest. The company's owner, Steve Deese, said the workers failed to call in or provide a doctor's note to explain their absence.

"[W]hen we can't build boats, we don't make money," Deese told CNN. "We run an assembly line, and when 21 people call out, that seriously affects our operation."

A similar scene played out in Oklahoma, where 12 member of the kitchen staff at I Don't Care Bar and Grill lost their jobs after failing to notify the owner of their plans to skip work.

Bill McNally said that while he sympathizes with his employees' political message, he couldn't let them get away with blowing off work.

"I'm on their side, but we have rules at I Don't Care Bar and Grill," McNally said. "If you're going to be late, call in. If you're not coming to work, call us. That's the American way."

"They just forgot about the 50 other people who work here," he added. "If the cooks don't show up, then servers don't have jobs, and customers can't eat."

But a friend of the workers -- all of whom are Hispanic -- explained that they feel as though they have been wrongfully terminated.

"[They are] upset they stood for something they felt was necessary so the community would stand together, and they got terminated for that," the friend told KTUL. "That was their way to show they are needed in the community."

Trump has pledged to deport millions of undocumented immigrants from the U.S. A recent memo from the Department of Homeland Security indicated plans to hire 10,000 new immigration officers to help identify, detain and ultimately deport all "removable aliens," according to Politico.

Sources: CNN, KDVR, KTUL, Politico / Photo credit: Ben Alexander/Flickr

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