Employees to Picket Law Firm for Breaking Labor Law

May 12, 2022

When: May 13, 2022 at 11am
Where: 180 N Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60601

Employees at the Hudson Institute for Process Research (HIPR), the main component of the North America Immigration Law Group (NAmILG)’s network of companies, have announced plans to picket the company’s Chicago office on May 13th, 2022 at 11 AM.

HIPR employees are demanding that the company reinstate workers who have been illegally fired and settle wage theft and unfair labor practice charges that employees have filed against the company.

“We’re tired of the illegal union busting that’s occurred over the past year, so we’ve decided to take the fight to them and show them just how strong we are,” says Switz Castro, HIPR employee and organizing committee member of Hudson Workers United, the union organizing paralegals at HIPR.

Collectively, the NAmILG network of companies form the United States’ largest law firm specializing in high skill immigration visas. The companies that form this network are owned by Victoria Claire Chen and her husband, Winston Shay (a.k.a. Bing-Yu Hsieh), and primarily serve foreign academics and similarly situated researchers looking to gain permanent residency in the US. Ms. Chen and Mr. Shay’s management practices have drawn widespread condemnation from the academic community, with labor unions and student organizations representing faculty and graduate students speaking out against the company on campuses as diverse as the University of Colorado, the University of Chicago, Rutgers, and the University of Illinois Chicago, among others. Elected officials have also criticized their management practices.

“We expect a law firm to adhere to the law when it comes to recognizing their employees’ right to unionize,” says Andre Vasquez, Alderman of the 40th Ward in Chicago. “We condemn the anti-union tactics HIPR management has used against their employees. This is about respect: respect for the law but more importantly respect for their employees’ right to organize.”

The HIPR employees’ action comes in the midst of a contentious union drive in which management has demonstrated utter contempt for the law. Already, the US Department of Labor (DOL) has found the company guilty of wage theft and the company is facing dozens more federal investigations from the DOL, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Among the topics of these investigations are additional and ongoing wage theft complaints, numerous unfair labor practices including retaliation against employees (up to and including illegal terminations) for engaging in protected activities, and what employees allege is endemic disability discrimination.

“I was terminated for talking to my coworkers about the union through google chat,” says Maddie Cupak, organizing committee member who was terminated in November, 2021. “It’s been surreal. The companies attempted to appeal my unemployment. They even sent me letters threatening to sue me for speaking out.”

Other companies in the NAmILG network include Pacston and Talentopia, both of which are under investigation among allegations that they are shell companies established for the sole purpose of evading labor law. HIPR employees have also been urging the DOL and other agencies to investigate the companies for misclassification of workers.

For more information on the upcoming picket, the ongoing investigations, or the union drive at HIPR, contact hudsonworkers@ueunion.net or hudsonlegalteams@gmail.com.