In October 2021, the Hudson Institute for Process Research (HIPR) illegally fired Abigail Schultz and Joshua Sturman for union organizing. Since then, HIPR has continued to wage a campaign of threats and harassment against the organizers. This campaign includes filing a lawsuit against Abigail and Joshua as part of the company’s ongoing attempts to deprive employees of their legal right to organize.
If this lawsuit is allowed to stand, it will have a chilling effect on workers’ rights everywhere.
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At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, paralegals at HIPR – an immigration law firm also operating under the names North America Immigration Law Group, Talentopia, Chen Immigration, Wegreened, and more – began organizing a union for better pay, improved conditions, and fair treatment. On July 22, 2021, more than two thirds of the workers signed union cards and filed for a union election under the banner of Hudson Workers United.
Instead of simply recognizing the union and negotiating a contract with their workers, HIPR began a harsh union-busting campaign, instituting sweeping changes to working conditions, outsourcing and offshoring work, creating shell companies to hide potential members from the union, unlawfully disciplining union leaders and members, and illegally terminating union leaders including (but by no means limited to) Abigail and Joshua.
In the winter of 2022, HIPR ramped up its campaign of anti-union terror by sending Joshua, Abigail, and several other organizers legal threats. Then, in May 2022, Abigail was sent a cease-and-desist letter making false allegations against her. Furthermore, the company altered its social media profiles to make untrue, defamatory statements against Abigail and Joshua, making them the most visible aspects of these accounts. Eventually, union members discovered that several of the company’s official URLs redirected to hipr-news-update.com, a site management created in a desperate attempt to red-bait Joshua and Abigail and smear their good names. The site, much like the HIPR’s Glassdoor and Linked-In profiles, brands Abigail and Joshua as “criminals” and encourages people to contact HIPR with information about the workers. The accusations listed are either invented whole cloth or based on untrue, sensationalistic “reporting” from a right-wing, tabloid press with a notoriously problematic relationship to the truth.
Nor did the smears end there. In May and June 2022, Abigail’s family became targets of harassment, with fake accounts appearing across the internet baselessly accusing her family members of human trafficking in a move that resembles QAnon tactics. HIPR management further republished anti-Semitic death threats against Joshua at a time when the EEOC was investigating the company for religious discrimination (among other things).
Finally, in August 2022, HIPR filed suit against Abigail and Joshua, absurdly portraying their pro-union efforts as a conspiracy to benefit Joshua’s family. Under the National Labor Relations Act, workers have a right to organize a union and engage in collective activity to demand better hours, wages and working conditions. Hence, HIPR’s lawsuit is obviously a “Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation” (“SLAPP”) suit — one designed to censor, intimidate, and silence critics and hinder the right to organize.
If employers are allowed to retaliate against workers’ organizing efforts with this kind of lawsuit, the entire labor movement is in jeopardy. Unfortunately, defending against such a suit is extremely expensive, quickly exceeding the means readily available to paralegal union organizers. To this end, we are asking for movement solidarity to raise the funds needed to defend the right to organize.
Can you donate today to defend labor rights in the United States from HIPR’s vicious attack?