The National Restaurant Association (NRA) sent a reminder that protests are planned nationwide on Thursday, February 16 in response to the Trump Administration’s actions and proposed policy stances on immigration. Billed as “A Day without Immigrants,” organizers are calling on workers not to show up or to walk out of work on Thursday.
Perhaps no other industry has provided more opportunities for immigrants than has our nation’s restaurants, as evidenced by this background information provided by NRA.
Restaurants Employ Nearly 2.3 Million Foreign-Born Workers. According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2015 American Community Survey, approximately 2.3 million foreign-born workers are employed in restaurants. This represents over 8 percent of the 28.1 million foreign-born workers in the U.S labor force. (“Demographic trends illustrate importance of foreign-born workers,” National Restaurant Association News & Research, 2/14/17)
Restaurants Have A Higher Concentration Of Foreign-Born Workers Than The Overall U.S. Economy. More than 23 percent of individuals employed at restaurants are foreign-born, versus 19 percent for the overall economy. (“Demographic trends illustrate importance of foreign-born workers,” National Restaurant Association News & Research, 2/14/17)
Forty-Five Percent Of Restaurant Chefs Are Foreign-Born, As Are 24 Percent Of Restaurant Managers. (“Demographic trends illustrate importance of foreign-born workers,” National Restaurant Association News & Research, 2/14/17)
Immigrants Are Also More Likely To Be Business Owners In The Restaurant Industry. Twenty-nine percent of businesses in the combined restaurant/hotel sector are immigrant-owned, compared to just 14 percent of all U.S. firms, according to data from the Census Bureau’s 2012 Survey of Business Owners. (“Demographic trends illustrate importance of foreign-born workers,” National Restaurant Association News & Research, 2/14/17)
“Restaurants welcome people from all backgrounds and cultures to dine with us and work in our industry. Legal immigrants are an important part of the restaurant family. We strongly encourage our members to follow all laws. By encouraging walkouts, these organizations disrupt the workplaces of hard-working Americans who are trying to provide for their families,” commented Leslie Shedd, Vice President of Communications at NRA.
The law firm Constangy, Brooks, Smith & Prophete, LLP – an MRA allied member – warned in a communication today that “the planned protest may be protected concerted activity under the National Labor Relations Act. Therefore, employers should refrain from taking action against employees who participate in, or encourage others to join in, the scheduled refusal to work because of the exercise of their protected rights. Employers should not try to assess appropriate disciplinary measures before or during the walk-out. Also, it is strongly suggested that you discuss any proposed discipline with counsel before taking action.”
Missouri Restaurant Association seconds the suggestion made by Constangy, Brooks in the closing of the firm’s communication, “Take this opportunity to let your employees know that you are aware of the valuable contributions that immigrants in this country make each day, their concerns for their families and their well-being, and their desire to make those concerns known. By recognizing their value and concerns, the benefit to your employment relations, in the long run, may well exceed any harm caused by the protests.”