In the news Friday was the firing by Chipotle Mexican Grill of some 350 employees in its chain of 50 Minnesota restaurants. According to an article in the Minneapolis Tribune, “Chipotle fires hundreds, draws protests,” the workers were let go after the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) audited the restaurant chain and found that some of them were illegal immigrants. According to the article the illegal employees were replaced, presumably with U.S. citizens. (So much for the illegal-workers-only-take-jobs -that-Americans-won’t canard.) Since Minnesota lost some 22,400 jobs in December, 1,800 of them in the leisure and hospitality category, and still suffers from the recession’s high unemployment rate of 7%, this should be good news, right?
Not according to the Service Employees International Union which apparently represents Chipotle employees. The union staged a protest at one of the chain’s locations in Minneapolis and its spokesman, a Greg Nammacher, said that the purpose of the demonstration was to “send a message to corporations that they can’t sell Mexican culture and Mexican food and sell out Mexican workers.” He added further: “Companies all over this country are using immigrant (my italics) labor, and then, when government shines a light on those employees, the companies wash their hands of them...”
It should first of all be noted that the employees fired were illegal, not legal immigrants. Those who could produce the documents establishing their legal status kept their jobs, and bienvenido. So the issue is illegal aliens working illegally, not immigrants who came here according to the law and have every right to hold a job in the U.S. Why the SEIU would put the onus on Chipotle for firing illegal workers in accordance with the law and under pressure from ICE is a message that Mr. Nammacher does not make clear. How can the restaurant chain be accused of “selling out” Mexican workers who are here illegally and obtained their jobs by fraud with false documents, according to Chipotle.
And if Chipotle management hired the illegals knowingly, of which they are not accused, that is against the law and they should be prosecuted to its full extent, but that doesn’t seem to be what SEIU wants. It is hard to know what the union wants. Chipotle couldn’t hire those people back if it wanted to, and why would SEIU want them to? The jobs were all refilled by U.S. citizens who the union has every right to go ahead and organize. Why wouldn’t SEIU, headquartered in the U.S., and whose members are overwhelmingly U.S. citizens, be overjoyed to see 350 of them freshly employed in a deep recession? Why would the union go to bat for illegal aliens against the interests of this country and U.S. citizens?
This is a question its members should be asking as they hand over their monthly dues.