News & Politics

Facebook Encourages Employees to Skip Work for Pro-Immigrant May Day Protests

People take part in a march to celebrate International Workers' Day and to protest Arizona's new controversial immigration law Saturday May 1, 2010 in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Jakub Mosur)

Facebook Inc. has given its staff the green light to skip work and join pro-immigrant protests on May 1, “International Workers’ Day,” when members of the communist left around the world protest.

The tech giant said it won’t punish employees who take time off to join pro-immigrant protests, and according to Bloomberg News, the company will also “investigate” if any of its vendors (providing security staff, janitors, shuttle-bus drivers, etc.) “illegally crack down on their employees’ protest rights.”

“At Facebook, we’re committed to fostering an inclusive workplace where employees feel comfortable expressing their opinions and speaking up,” a spokesman wrote in an emailed statement. “We support our people in recognizing International Workers’ Day and other efforts to raise awareness for safe and equitable employment conditions.”

Facebook notified employees of its policy in a posting on an internal forum April 14. A spokesman said it applies regardless of whether workers notify the company ahead of time. The Menlo Park, California, company also said it would re-evaluate its ties to any vendor if it breaks the law that protects workers’ rights to organize and protect themselves.

“It’s important not just to the engineers and H-1B holders that are traditionally thought of as the immigrants in tech but also to folks who are subcontracted but work side-by-side on those campuses,” said Derecka Mehrens, co-founder of Silicon Valley Rising, a union-backed coalition. “Immigrants play a critical role in the tech sector — both as engineers and coders but also in keeping tech campuses running smoothly.”

I remember well how Facebook — dedicated as they are to “fostering an inclusive workplace where employees feel comfortable expressing their opinions and speaking up” — gave a similar green light to tea-party conservatives who wanted to protest against Obama’s policies from 2009 to 2012.

Wait … that didn’t happen at all, did it? To be fair, that’s likely because they had very few — if any — conservative employees at the time (at least none that were out of the closet).

On the other hand, Facebook did allow its liberal employees to suppress conservative views in its “Trending News Module” for years on end.

Facebook is only one out of many other tech companies that have been vocal in their opposition to Trump’s immigration agenda. In February, more than 120 tech firms united in opposition to his executive order on immigration by filing a legal brief.

*The spokesman didn’t explain how firing an employee who skips work constitutes an illegality. I’m guessing that he means if they give proper notice, they can’t be fired.

More than 100 workers were fired after taking part in the “Day Without Immigrants” protests in March.