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No More "No Match" Letters

Local worker centers, unions and elected officials are gathering to denounce the recent mailing of so called "no match" letters as a direct attack on working families.

The group will provide information in the recent chaos experienced by both workers and employers in the current "no match" crisis, including informing workers of their rights and alerting employers on proper action to take or not take.

While there has been widespread fear created by the announced immigration raids that did not materialize, "silent workplace raids" have been devastating workers through the sending of "no match" letters.

In recent weeks, Arise Chicago has received several reports of potentially illegal action by employers who have fired workers or given improper instructions to workers regarding "no match letters."

Examples include workers being fired from jobs held for five, 10, or 20 years, leaving workers jobless and causing economic crises for working families across Cook County.

The letters also open the door for employers to use them to retaliate against workers standing up for their rights or organizing to improve wages or working conditions.

What Are "No Match" Letters?

No-Match letters are an educational communication from the Social Security Administration (SSA) to employers stating that a worker's personal information (like her name or Social Security number) does not match the agency's records.

Many things can generate a no-match and the letters cite some examples, most commonly due to typographical errors (for example, an employer could accidentally put the wrong Social Security Number with the wrong name, or misspell a name), unreported name changes (like in the case of marriage or divorce), or missing data.

The SSA sent out 570,000 "No Match" letters to employers this spring, and reportedly plans to send approximately 300,000 more this fall.

A "no match" letter, on its own, does not tell an employer anything about a worker's immigration status. The letter states that it is "not related to work permits or immigration status."

Also, "no match" letters state that employers should not "use this letter to take any adverse action against an employee, such as laying off, suspending, firing or discriminating against that individual, just because his or her SSN or name does not match our records. Any of those actions could, in fact, violate State or Federal law and subject you to legal consequences."

However, numerous workers have reported negative actions from employers after receiving "no match" letters - from giving an incorrect amount of time to address the "no match" to improper firings.

After 47 Congressional Democrats wrote to the SSA questioning the use of "no match" letters, the SSA Acting Commissioner, Nancy A. Berryhill, responded. In her letter to Rep. Jim Costa (D-Calif.), she writes that the SSA will "not take any action, nor are there any SSA-related consequences, for employers' non-compliance with our letters."

Berryhill adds that "SSA is not a law enforcement agency and our role is limited in scope to trying to ensure we credit each employee with his or her earnings . . . "

In simple terms, the Social Security Administration does not fine or punish employers who do not reply to a no-match letter.

Even with these direct instructions from SSA, local workers' rights organization Arise Chicago reports workers from several employers in Chicago and Cook County have been given improper information and/or fired workers.

Arise Chicago created educational materials and videos in Spanish, Polish, and English informing workers of their rights regarding "no match" letters.

Arise Chicago, the Raise the Floor alliance of worker centers, local labor unions, and local elected officials call on all employers to follow the law, and take no negative action against workers if they receive "No Match" letters. If they do, employers may face legal consequences.

What: Press conference alerting local employers against improperly firing workers after receiving so called "no match" letters from the Social Security Administration, and informing workers of their rights.

When: Thursday, July 25, 12:15 p.m.

Where: Chicago Teachers Union Center, 1901 West Carroll Avenue auditorium.

Who: Workers who have received "no match" letters, local unions, worker centers including Arise Chicago, Chicago Federation of Labor, elected officials including state Rep. Aaron Ortiz (D-Chicago), County Commissioner Alma Anaya, Ald. Gilbert Villegas (36th), Ald. Carlos Ramirez Rosa (35th) and Ald. Byron Sigcho Lopez (25th).

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See also:

* NumbersUSA:

"SSA started to send the letters in 1993, but did not establish regulatory procedures requiring employers to follow up until 2007. Those Bush Administration procedures required employers to fire employees who had mismatches that could not be cleared up. Business groups immediately sued to overturn the rule and persuaded a judge to block it. The Bush Administration terminated no-match letters in 2007 and rescinded the regulation in 2009. In 2011, the Obama Administration restarted no-match letters without the termination requirement but discontinued them in 2012.

"The Trump Administration issued an order reinstating the letters in March of this year. The new no-match program is similar to Obama's but more expansive. The former only sent letters to employers who had 10 or more employees with discrepancies. Trump's policy is to inform every employer about every discrepancy in the SSA database."

* Greg Hinz, Crain's: Chuy Garcia Alleges Social Security Letters A Trump Attempt To 'Intimidate' Immigrants.

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Comments welcome.



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Posted on July 25, 2019


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