A letter from Maudie’s Tex-Mex was shared widely last week, where the local restaurant chain seemed to discourage staffers from participating in the nationwide immigrant strike held last week, known as ‘A Day Without Immigrants.’ The February 14 note stated that the protest "could have unintended negative consequences for us all." The company also offered double-pay to those staffers who chose to work.
Maudie’s took responsibility for that controversial letter, and released a follow-up statement yesterday on Facebook. Owner Joe Draker apologized and said that it "misrepresented not only our intentions, but also what was verbally communicated to our employees about this event, and unfortunately, the core values of Maudie's.” The full text of both letters follow below.
A similar, if more blunt, letter was found at a Chuy's in Round Rock. The note, written in Spanish, stated that a randomly selected staffer of those employees who didn't come into work on the day of the strike would be fired. Chuy's responded on Twitter that the note was taken off the restaurant, and said that anyone who took part in the strike wouldn't be punished. The restaurant's human resources vice president Marsha Williams reiterated those points to Austin 360.
The February 16 demonstrations were held in response to the Trump administration's recent immigration policies, including the proposed ban and ICE raids. Immigrants were asked to not work, go to school, or purchase anything that day. In Austin, many restaurants decided to participate in the strike, including Kyoten Sushiko, Veracruz All Natural, Swift’s Attic, Home Slice, and more, while others, like Torchy’s Tacos and Tacodeli, had to shut down several locations because of staff shortages.
Maudie’s Tex-Mex’s First Letter
We understand the want for the immigrant community to stand united to demonstrate how vital your presence is to the daily life in Austin. The people with the power to change immigration policy will not respect this point even if the strike is very disruptive.
This makes the strike pointless. It is sad that in everyday life high ideals often don't work out.
We believe this strike could have unintended negative consequences for us all and therefore, is not a good idea.
We all know we can't meet our standards of service at Maudie's this Thursday without you.
We ask each of you to consider what is best for you and not be a victim of peer pressure. Each of you are thinking people responsible and able to make your own choices.
At Maudies we stand proud of and in support of our staff and the wonderful Mexican heritage in Texas. Please know we appreciate the opportunity to work together in the pursuit of serving each other and our customers.
Please consider: workers strike because of unfair working conditions. Strikes are meant to punish the employer and create change. We hope you will not punish Maudie's and decide that you can support us in our duty to be open.
To celebrate those who join us in working Thursday we will pay double your normal rate.
Maudie’s Tex-Mex’s Responding Letter
Our team at Maudie’s is like a family to us and sometimes, even in the best of families, people make mistakes, especially when it comes to communication.
We are truly sorry for the internal message sent to our stores regarding the “A Day without immigrants” protest. In retrospect, we see that the language in the letter misrepresented not only our intentions, but also what was verbally communicated to our employees about this event, and unfortunately, the core values of Maudie’s.
Prior to the event, our management, including our HR Director, held numerous face-to-face meetings with employees (in both Spanish and English). In those conversations, we shared that each individual, without fear of repercussion, could decide for themselves whether or not to come to work that day.
Being open was in no way meant to slight the demonstrations. Simply, those in our employee family who wanted to work on that day had the opportunity to do so.
At Maudie’s, we have always valued our employees, and will continue to do so. We consider each other family. We empathize with the plight of the immigrant community, and will keep advocating for key efforts in this movement. Our leadership is committed to respecting all of our employees, and we pledge to more thoughtfully show that respect in all that we do moving forward.
The Maudie’s Tex-Mex Team