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Support grows for pizza plant workers

Published Jun 22, 2012 9:31 PM

Members of the Palermo’s Workers Union are entering their third week on strike, with growing support from across Wisconsin, nationally and internationally. The strike is now the cutting-edge working-class struggle in Wisconsin. Hundreds of multinational supporters have joined the bilingual picket line at various times since the strike began on June 1. Other support actions, such as building support for a boycott of Palermo’s Pizza, are underway.

The mostly Latino/a workers at the plant, which produces frozen pizzas for grocery stores, struck because of the company’s attempt to break a union organizing drive by firing pro-union workers, hiring replacement workers and bringing in Immigration and Customs Enforcement — federal immigration agents. The National Labor Relations Board has scheduled a union recognition vote for July 6.

A call for a YES! June 15 picket line delegation reads, “Youth Empowered in the Struggle! is standing in solidarity with workers at Palermo’s Pizza in Milwaukee. Why? Workers at Palermo’s have been striking for several days after trying to organize better safety conditions within the plant. Palermo’s refuses to let them organize, even after several workers have been injured. This eventually led to a strike.” YES! is the youth arm of Voces de la Frontera, a Milwaukee-based immigrant rights organization (vdlf.org).

“As you all know,” the statement continues, “Wisconsin has been through a very rough patch when it comes to workers’ rights. This is another example of attacks on workers. Enough is enough!” YES! members have been a strong presence daily on the picket line.

Besides youth and students, every day members of public and private sector unions, and community and faith-based organizations are on the picket line and elsewhere building support.

Members of teachers unions from Madison and Milwaukee bring supplies and food to the picket line daily and have helped organize various fundraisers. On June 14, the American Federation of Teachers Local 212 at the Milwaukee Area Technical College helped to organize a fundraiser at El Local restaurant that raised a few thousand dollars for the strikers.

The Overpass Light Brigade brings a neon sign stating “Boycott Palermo’s” to the picket line and has volunteers hoist the sign over the nearby Interstate 94 overpass.

Occupy Milwaukee and members of other Occupy Wall Street groups in Wisconsin, such as Occupy Riverwest, are a frequent presence on the picket line. The Riverwest Co-Op in Milwaukee has removed all Palermo’s products from its store. Support resolutions and statements, including from the national AFL-CIO and from around the world, have been sent to the Palermo Workers Union.

For more information and how to support the strike: www.vdlf.org. On Twitter: tinyurl.com/brss87y. Supporters can sign the petition at tinyurl.com/6m7n3b6.

Pfeifer is an organizer of the WI Bail Out The People Movement, which is supporting the strike: www.wibailoutpeople.org.