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Support striking Palermo’s workers

Published Jun 18, 2012 8:51 PM

Over 150 workers at Palermo’s Pizza Company in Milwaukee are now entering their second week on strike. Members of the Palermo’s Workers Union, most of whom are Latino/a workers, have petitioned the National Labor Relations Board for a union election. It has scheduled a secret ballot election for July 6.

Strike supporters target pizza company.
WW photo: Bryan G. Pfeifer

“Soon after union organizing efforts began, the frozen pizza company began its anti-union campaign, threatening workers with termination and immigration audits,” stated the Milwaukee-based immigrant rights organization Voces de la Frontera, which is assisting the union, in a June 9 statement. “Management issued letters to a group of employees indicating they must re-verify their immigration status or be terminated by today. [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] then sent a letter indicating there was a stay on any actions.

“Workers are demanding that Palermo’s immediately reinstate striking workers who were fired through the company’s hiring of replacement workers and generating ‘resignation’ letters on behalf of the strikers. Workers are also demanding that the company immediately stop hiring replacement workers.”

Roberto Silva, a worker on strike at Palermo’s, said, “By standing together in a strong show of solidarity on the picket line and online, and by highlighting the pattern of retaliation and unsafe conditions workers have been subjected to at the workplace, we hope we can end Palermo’s unlawful intimidation campaign and ultimately form a union.”

In less than 24 hours an online petition began circulating and immediately garnered nearly 1,000 signatures of Wisconsinites and others, who are calling on Palermo’s to stop intimidating and firing workers for forming a union. Local activists are pledging to stop purchasing Palermo’s products until workers’ rights are protected. A strike fund has been started to help the workers recoup lost income during the labor dispute. A “Support Striking Palermo’s Workers” Facebook page was created.

Other unions and community organizations are supporting the Palermo’s workers’ strike. These include American Federation of Teachers Locals 212 (Milwaukee Area Technical College-Milwaukee) and 2169 (Milwaukee Graduate Assistants Association), Steelworkers, Service Employees union, Wisconsin Federation of Nurses and Healthcare Professionals Local 5011 (Sheboygan, Wis.), Industrial Workers of the World Branch 560 (Madison, Wis.), Occupy Milwaukee and the Wisconsin Bail Out the People Movement. Riverwest Cooperative Grocery Store, located in the Riverwest neighborhood in Milwaukee, is the first business to officially declare a boycott of Palermo’s Pizza in their store. (theuptake.org)

To find out how to support the striking Palermo’s workers, go to Voces de la Frontera’s website vdlf.org or call 414-218-3331.