Date of Alert: 
Thursday, October 18, 2012


Some of you might have heard about the I-9 immigration audit at Mi Pueblo
markets that will cause all undocumented workers at these stores to lose
their jobs. (see article below for more information). Mi Pueblo has 21
stores with 3000 workers around Northern California and one of their
biggest stores is in Oakland on High st.

 They are a big employer in Oakland and many of the workers at Mi Pueblo
have students that go to OUSD schools. This I-9 audit is a threat to the
economic livelihood of immigrant communities and will destabilize the lives
of many of our students and parents in Oakland schools. There are efforts
underway to organize a response to this and as teachers we can play a
crucial role in supporting our students and families. Below are a few ways
that we are hoping to support in our schools and want to encourage other
teachers/school workers to get involved also:

1)    There is an picket/rally being called for October 20th from 1-4 pm at
the Mi Pueblo store on High st. Encourage parents, teachers and students at
your school to attend and participate together.

2)    We will be holding a meeting on Sunday, October 14th from 3 pm-4 pm
at Mi Grullense at 1457 Fruitvale Ave (by International) to make plans for
having a teachers contingent in the October 20th action and discuss other
ways to support our students and families in this struggle. Join us!

3)    Send an email out to your co-workers discussing the I-9 audit and
encouraging teachers to reach out to their students whose families work at
Mi Pueblo to see if they are being affected. Then, contact those families
at your  school and invite them to a meeting to discuss how the school
community could support them.

In this moment of both attacks on immigrant communities and economic
hardship for OUSD families in Oakland, we look forward to taking action
together as teachers in support of the students and families at our
schools. Please email us at with any
questions or ideas.

Perry Bellow-Handelman, Coliseum College Prep Academy
Edgar Sanchez, Coliseum College Prep Academy
Becca Rozo-Marsh, Coliseum College Prep Academy
Emily Macy, Oakland High School
Michael Shane, Oakland High School
Alex Mejia, MetWest High School
Jessica Aguilar, Urban Promise Academy
Alima Catellacci, International Community School (ICS)
Feyi Ajayi-Dopemu, Edna Brewer Middle School
Alicia Arnold, New Highland Academy
Nick Palmquist, Afterschool teacher recently laid-off due to budget cuts

 *Mi Pueblo markets came under U.S. immigration audit, company says*

*By Matt O'Brien*

*San Jose Mercury News*

Posted:   10/05/2012 07:14:33 PM PDT

Updated:   10/06/2012 10:09:25 AM PDT

Federal immigration agents launched an audit of the 21-store Mi Pueblo
supermarket chain in mid-August after hearing complaints about suspected
illegal immigrant workers, the company announced Friday.

The audit of I-9 forms, known as a "silent raid," was the reason the San
Jose-based grocer voluntarily joined the federal E-Verify system a short
time later to check the immigration status of all new hires.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has audited more than 6,500
worksites nationwide since 2009, but "most companies choose not to talk
about it because it is confidential," said company lawyer Julie Pace. She
led a news conference Friday to dispel rumors she said were spreading fear
and division.

The announcement comes days before a threatened boycott is to begin at noon
Monday, led by a union trying to organize Mi Pueblo's more than 3,000
workers and demanding that the company stop using E-Verify.

The union said Friday it is backing off on the E-Verify demand amid news of
the ICE audit but is proceeding with the boycott because Mi Pueblo refuses
to sign a labor agreement. Supermarket workers are even more upset about
how this was handled than they were before, said Gerardo Dominguez,
campaign coordinator for the Justice for Mercado Workers Coalition. It is
seeking to unionize thousands of workers at Latino and Asian groceries
around the state.

"People are very anxious, very nervous, very upset," said Dominguez. He
said one worker recently quit because he was feeling too much stress.

In a video shown to employees earlier this week, Mi Pueblo founder and CEO
Juvenal Chavez revealed the audit for the first time and said he would have
to dismiss any workers found to have invalid work documents.

"The possibility of losing one of our employees will hurt my heart," he
said, according to a transcript of the video obtained by the union and
translated into English from Spanish. "And it will feel like losing a
family member."

Labor activists have faulted Chavez, a U.S. citizen who is himself a former
illegal immigrant from Mexico, for betraying the Latino immigrant community
that sustains his business, but the company has fought back the attacks on
its reputation and hired an Arizona legal team and immigrant rights
activist Lydia Guzman to help manage the crisis.

Pace, the lawyer, spoke to reporters Friday in front of posters depicting
what she called "immigration reform butterflies" that emphasize the need
for the "left wing" and the "right wing" to come together.

"Companies get caught in the middle" of immigration enforcement stings and
the audits have particularly hurt Latino businesses, she said. It could
take months or more than a year for the government to complete its audit,
she said.

The government can fine companies for hiring illegal workers, but Case said
it is not a crime for the company to hire workers who used counterfeit
forms that looked genuine.

"We can't discriminate" or scrutinize workers just "because they have brown
skin or speak Spanish or have a Spanish surname," she said.

Chavez, a former janitor, founded his first Mi Pueblo in 1991 and built a
chain across the Bay Area and into the Central Valley. City leaders have
lauded Mi Pueblo for revitalizing shopping centers with its festive
supermarkets and bakeries.

The chain's original East San Jose store at King and Story roads was
bustling Friday morning. Most shoppers said they were unaware of the
immigration problems or the boycott plan.

As he pushed a cart out of the store, shopper Carlos Carranza, 19, said he
had not heard of the boycott but he faulted the government for any
hardships the audit brings to workers.

"The company has nothing to do with it," the San Jose resident said.
"They're just doing their job."


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