See below for a great resource from two OUSD teachers for teaching about the 1-9 audit at Mi Pueblo.
Please share with other educators! Check-out the lesson materials here!
In early fall, the Mi Pueblo grocery store chain, which employs over 3,000 mainly immigrant workers in the Bay Area, began implementing Immigration and Custom Enforcement’s E-verify system under which the social security numbers of all new job applicants are checked. A short while later Mi Pueblo announced that they had voluntarily joined E-verify because they are undergoing I-9 immigration audit through which all undocumented workers at their stores are expected to lose their jobs. Layoffs are expected to start on January 1, 2013. Whether Mi Pueblo was forced to undergo the 1-9 audit by ICE or volunteered to do so is unknown. However Mi Pueblo has been putting out a consistent message to their primary Latino immigrant cliental that their commitment to immigrant rights is unwavering and that they are doing everything they can to support immigrant workers at the store.
This all came on the backdrop of a several year long effort by UFCW to unionize workers at the non-union stores and a hunger strike held by workers at one of the stores in 2011 in protest of working conditions, low wages and firings of pro-union workers. Several community groups see the audit has an attempt by management to squash union organizing efforts and other worker dissent. They have joined together under the name of “Dignity and Resistance Coalition” and are organizing to demand Mi Pueblo not collaborate with ICE and not move forward with the 1-9 audit firings.
On October 20th and November 21st (the day before Thanksgiving-often a busy day for grocery stores) there were very energetic pickets held outside of the Mi Pueblo on High St. in Oakland. At each of these protests there were over a hundred people in attendance who marched, chanted, gave out information and watched various showings of a community theatre performance based on the struggle of Mi Pueblo workers. The Dignity and Resistance Coalition has continued to organize around the situation of the workers and build community support. In other areas of the bay, the UFCW is continuing to have meetings with workers in order to unionize.
While the I-9 audit is still taking place but no (or very few) workers have been fired yet. Some say that the slow pace of how the audit is being implemented is due to the negative press and community resistance that Mi Pueblo is receiving. Others say that Mi Pueblo is waiting until after the holidays (their busiest time of year) to fire these workers so as not to diminish their revenue at this important time for them financially.
The United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), a union that is in the middle of an organizing drive with the Mi Pueblo workers is putting together two upcoming actions in San Jose: the first one will be a community forum about workers rights and organizing on December 9th and a protest in against sexual harassment at Mi Pueblo on December 18th. There will be other upcoming actions around the Christmas holiday that are organized by the Dignity and Resistance Coalition. For more information about their current organizing, you can contact firstname.lastname@example.org.