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Boat Builder Fires 21 Workers after Day Without Immigrants Protest

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LEXINGTON COUNTY, S.C.— A boat builder near Lake Murray is coming under media scrutiny for firing workers who participated in the Day Without Immigrants protest on February 16. 

The protest left many businesses around the U.S. without staff as immigrants rallied to show their impact on the American economy. Encore Boat Builders, a manufacturer of pontoons, terminated 21 employees after they failed to show up for work, in letters citing no show/no call in.

According to a local NBC affiliate, former Encore employee Juvenito Quintana says some employees received calls from management prior to the Day Without Immigrants telling them not to participate, threatening their jobs if they did.

South Carolina is a right to work state, meaning employers have discretion to terminate employees for participating in protests that interfere with business operations.

Management at Encore Boat Builders declined to comment on this story.

The South Carolina workers join dozens of employees in Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and New York who lost their jobs as a result of participation in A Day Without Immigrants.

According to a statement Seattle University School of Law professor Charlotte Garden released to The Atlantic, the legality of those firings—which estimates place at around 100 employees nationwide—remains in question.

“The National Labor Relations Act protects workers’ rights to engage in concerted activity for mutual aid or protection, and the scope of what falls under that umbrella is quite broad. So it is likely that some forms of worker protest about the likely effects of Trump Administration policies on immigrant workers would be protected. But that protection would not necessarily include every tactic that workers might use.”

In 2006, the NLRA sided with a prior Day Without Immigrants protest. And, while this South Carolina boat builder is raising eyebrows, many employers across the United States rose to support their employees’ cause.

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