On Oct. 24, the UFCW International, UFCW Local 328, and the National Guestworker Alliance (NGA) issued a statement regarding workers at Bob’s Tire Co. and BJ’s Temp Service in New Bedford, Mass., who successfully stopped their employers from retaliating against them for voting to join UFCW Local 328. The UFCW International, UFCW Local 328 and the NGA supported the workers in resisting the companies’ attempt to intimidate workers through the threat of deportation.
In September of 2015, workers who are jointly employed by Bob’s Tire and BJ’s Temp Service voted overwhelmingly to join UFCW Local 328. Shortly after this happened, the employers began retaliating against the workers’ decision to unionize with intimidation, including threats of immigration enforcement. On October 21, 2016, recognizing that workers at Bob’s Tire and BJ’s Temp Service were involved in a significant labor dispute, the government refused to be a weapon wielded against hard-working taxpayers trying to make a better life for themselves. The agency involved made clear its policy was to not interfere with labor disputes and they would not be used by the company to retaliate against their workers.
“The hard-working men and women of Bob’s Tire Co. and BJ’s Temp Service voted to join our union family for a better life, and it is irresponsible and wrong for any company to use threats and intimidation, or attempt to manipulate our government agencies to try and stop them,” said UFCW International President Marc Perrone. “By standing together with our community partners, we have shown our commitment to providing the better life these hard-working employees have rightfully earned. We look forward to negotiating a good contract for these workers, and expect Bob’s Tire Co. and BJ’s Temp Service to respect the values of our community and their customers.”
“At a time when companies are increasingly using temp agencies like BJ’s as a way to source exploitable workers, this victory matters for every worker in the United States,” said Saket Soni, executive director of the NGA. “ICE did the right thing and refused to let the companies use it as a weapon against organizing. That’s a victory for immigrant workers who stand up to expose abuse and improve their workplaces—and for the tens of millions of U.S.-born workers who labor alongside them. All workers deserve protection from threats of deportation when they come forward to report abuse.”