Press Contact: Laura Rivas (510) 282-2500
From noon on Tuesday, June 11 to noon on Friday, June 14, Bay Area immigrant workers and their supporters will be engaging in a FAST AGAINST THE FIRINGS to draw attention to the unjust firing of hundreds of immigrants because of ICE I-9 audits.
Even though the full Senate has begun deliberations on the Immigration Reform Bill S. 744, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency of the federal Department of Homeland Security is requiring local employers to fire hundreds of workers, saying they have no immigration papers. The administration calls its reform proposal “commonsense immigration reform,” but the fasters say there is no common sense in firing workers while Congress debates it.
These firings are often called “silent raids,” and the fasters seek to make them visible, and to express their moral outrage against the Federal government. Rev. Dr. Phil Lawson, Pastor Emeritus of Easter Hill United Methodist Church and leader of the Black Alliance for Just Immigration, one of the fasters, says, “These families have done nothing wrong. They’re being punished for working, which is what people in our community are supposed to do. We will not allow these workers to be treated as though they are invisible. Being terminated because of immigration status is a violation of their human and civil rights.”
Another faster, Gerardo Dominguez, organizing director of Local 5 of the United Food and Commercial Workers, calls the firings “an economic disaster for the Bay Area. These workers pay taxes that support local schools and services. Being terminated because of immigration status is a violation of their human and civil rights. Their families and our entire community will be harmed, and inequality and poverty will increase.””
Among the many Bay Area firms where firings have taken place are DoBake Bakery (125 workers fired), Albanese Construction (200 workers fired), Mi Pueblo Markets (hundreds fired), Pacific Steel (214 workers fired), Waste Management (3 workers fired) and ABM (475 workers fired). The fasters are asking local elected officials to intervene with Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, and ask her to halt the actions.
One worker from the DoBake industrial bakery is in her 60s and worked 16 years at the bakery earning minimum wage. She now faces loss of her health insurance, which covered expensive high blood pressure medications. Another worker fired at Waste Management Inc. says, “ I’m a good worker and I did a very dirty job. I’m not young, and I won’t be able to find another one. People depend on me. What are we going to do?”
As the firings are taking place throughout the Bay Area – the fast will move each day to different symbolic locations. Press conferences will be held at each site, and fired workers and fasters will be available for interviews:
Tuesday, June 11th, @ Cesar Chavez Park, S. Market St., San Jose
12 Noon – opening press conference
6PM – live feed and visuals opportunity – community gathering
6AM (following morning) – live feed and visuals opportunity – fasters begin the day by talking about the human cost of the firings
Wednesday, June 12th, @ Mi Pueblo Market, 1630 High St., Oakland
12 Noon – press conference
6PM – live feed and visuals opportunity – community gathering – poetry slam, music, Aztec dancers
6AM (following morning) – live feed and visuals opportunity – fasters begin the day by talking about the firings taking place at Mi Pueblo markets
Thursday, June 13th, Oakland Federal Bldg. 1301 Clay St., Oakland
12 Noon – press conference with Bay Area elected officials
6PM – live feed and visuals opportunity – community gathering with music and vigil by religious and labor members
6AM (following morning) – live feed and visuals opportunity – fasters begin the fast’s day by talking about the immigration reform bill and local demands to stop the firings
Participating Organizations: Interfaith Coalition for Immigrant Rights, CLUE CA, Interfaith Council on Economics and Justice, Alameda Co. United in Defense of Immigrant Rights, Natl. Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, Filipino Advocates for Justice, E. Bay Alliance for a Sustainable Economy, Working Partnerships USA, Faith Alliance for a Moral Economy, East Bay Immigrant Youth Coalition, Asian Law Caucus, Black Alliance for Just Immigration, Laborers L. 270, UFCW L. 5, ILWU L. 6, UNITE HERE L. 2850, Bakers L. 125, AFSCME L. 3299, South Bay Labor Council, Alameda Labor Council, Dobake Workers Comm., Dignity Campaign, Dignidad y Resistencia, Pacific Steel Workers Comm., Mujeres Unidas y Activas, Justice for Mercado Workers, ASPIRE, Jobs with Justice – SF