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Big Y Joins ICE IMAGE Program

Big Y Foods has become a partner in a national program from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to ensure a legal and more secure workforce. IMAGE is a voluntary initiative in which private industry teams with ICE to reduce unauthorized employment and the use of fraudulent identity documents.

The independent grocer formally joined the program on Jan. 20, with company and Homeland Security officials signing the ICE Mutual Agreement between Government and Employers during a ceremony held at Big Y’s Chicopee, Mass., location. Big Y is the first supermarket chain in New England to join IMAGE, according to the company, which added that there are currently nine other Massachusetts businesses that are program partners.

“By volunteering to become members of IMAGE, companies large and small can reduce unauthorized employment and the use of fraudulent identity documents,” noted Special Agent in Charge Matthew Etre, of ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Boston. “Businesses that join IMAGE also increase the reputation of their brand and their company.”

“The partnership with IMAGE enables us to achieve the highest level of available employment integrity and promotes a healthy, safe and productive work environment,” said Big Y Director of Talent Management and Employee Relations Laurie Hebert.

To qualify for IMAGE certification, a business must enroll in employment eligibility verification programs, among them E-Verify and the Social Security Number Verification Service; establish a written hiring and employment eligibility verification policy that includes internal Form I-9 audits annually; and undergo a Form I-9 employment eligibility verification audit conducted by ICE.

Springfield, Mass.-based Big Y operates about 67 retail locations in Massachusetts and Connecticut, with more than 10,000 employees.

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