Five restaurant workers recently fired by Matchbox Food Group — all of whom participated in the Day Without Immigrants demonstration in March — maintain that they lost their jobs for requesting better treatment from management.
Former Matchbox employees Lucas Efrain, Ana Hernandez, Angel Morales, Altagracia Reyes, and Alejandro Roman were terminated earlier this year following separate but related disagreements with higher ups at the the local pizza chain’s Chinatown and Pentagon City locations. All five worked for the company, which also operates Ted’s Bulletin and DC-3, for varying lengths of time.
They were all fired within weeks of taking off work to participate in the pro-immigrant rally that prompted many D.C. restaurants to close in solidarity with crew members.
“Before the Day Without Immigrants, the chef asked us individually if we could work that day, and I told him that I couldn’t. He asked me why, and I told him because I was going to support the Day Without Immigrants. ‘If you don’t work, I will take other measures,’ he said,” was what a superior told him, Efrain said in an online petition outlining the workers’ collective grievances.
Hannah Kane, a worker justice organizer with Many Language One Voice told Eater her group printed out the petition and planned to ask the manager of the Chinatown location (713 H Street NW) to accept a copy, along with the third complaint filed with the National Labor Relations Board, on April 28. She said supporters intend to stop by the Matchbox at 1901 14th Street NW today as part of the general strike endorsed by Restaurant Opportunities Centers United.
Matchbox president and CEO Peter D’Amelio declined to go into specifics but did supply Eater with an official statement about the dispute.
"Matchbox Food Group will not comment on the work history of any current or former employees. At Matchbox Food Group, we constantly strive to create a positive environment. We seek to provide our staff members with a great place to work where they are treated fairly with respect and dignity. As part of that process, we welcome all feedback, from employees and guests, and constantly evaluate ourselves to ensure we are both an employer of choice and a restaurant of choice for our community,” D’Amelio said via a spokesman. “We will fully comply if/when there is any NLRB investigation and are confident in the outcome of any investigation should one take place."
The workers are demanding severance for their years of service. They also implore management to provide regular breaks during the workday, secure additional help for support staff, and to abide by pre-established schedules.