Addressing the "No Match" Crisis

City, County, State Electeds Alert Employers and Workers amidst “No Match” Crisis.

Warn negative employer action can have legal consequences; cite “No Match” as attack on working families


Local worker centers, unions, and elected officials gathered on July 25, 2019 to denounce the recent mailing of so called “no match” letters as a direct attack on working families. Arise Chicago provided 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 several received 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 5, 10, or 20 years, leaving workers jobless and causing economic crisis 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. 

Elected officials including Illinois Rep. Aaron Ortiz (1), Cook County Commissioner Alma Anaya (7), Ald. Byron Sigcho Lopez (25), and representative from Ald. Sue Sadlowski Garza’s office (10) each spoke about the need to inform both workers and employers about the “no match” crisis. 

See coverage of the press conference from Chicago TribuneWGN TV, Univision, and Mundo Hispánico.

In response to the crisis, Arise created a No Match Toolkit.


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 Congressman Jim Costa, she writes that the SSA will “not take any action, nor are there any SSA-related consequences, for employers’ non-compliance with our letters”. It 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 called 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. 


Arise Chicago No Match Toolkit

If you received a No Match letter, text Arise Chicago at: 312-715-8141



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