With the Fourth of July up tomorrow what is more American than exploitng workers, especially immigrant workers. Every now and then, though, those workers get pushed to damn far.
A few weeks ago a variety of religions, Hispanic, and labor organizations clled for a national boycott of Palermo's Pizza prodcuts. Palermo’s Pizza workers went on strike about at the beginning of June for health and safety concerns and union busting tactics by Palermo Villa owners. The striking workers became the first private sector employees to organize a Palermo union after Governor Walker eliminated the collective union bargaining rights in the state for most public workers. Eighty pecent of the mostly Latino workforce had voted to unionize.
Palermo’s workers began organizing in 2008. The Palermo’s workers aren’t affiliated with an international union; they’re working closely with Voces de la Frontera, an immigrant rights group whose connection to unions was deepened when they occupied the capitol together last year. That occupation, Voces de la Frontera’s executive director Christine Neumann-Ortiz told Chaz Bolte, of We the Party, created “a lot of room for creative and broader partnerships, and just a broadening of the labor movement.” Neumann-Ortizz adds, “Most of those workers are our members. We definitely have their back.”
Last November, some Palermo’s workers decided it was time to form a union. “We just wanted a voice,” says Silva. “Simply that they listen.”
On June 1, the drama took an upturn. In These Times reports workers had planned to mass outside the factory, with those whose shifts ended at 8 a.m. streaming out of work to meet those already picketing. Having heard about this plan, workers say, Palermo’s barred employees from leaving the building, physically blocking the doors and telling workers they would be fired if they left. Some workers escaped through emergency exits, while others contacted Voces, who called the police. Police collected testimony when they arrived.
Workers state that threats of termination and immigration audits began almost immediately after workers attempted to form a union in order to address safety concerns. Many who have been involved in organizing have been fired or theatened with dismissal.
The company declined to recognized the employee union and began to use union busting tactics such as engaging in an immigration work place audit, replacing striking workers with temperary workers and continued a long practice of limiting days that a worker can take when getting sick, forcing employees to work and prepare food while sick or get terminated.
...Palermo’s health and safety record is a major problem. Palermo's Pizza has paid $7,000 in fines to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for unsafe working conditions. In the past four years, Palermo’s has been responsible for three separate incidents of worker amputation. In two of these incidents OSHA fined Palermo Villa for their role in maintaining dangerous work environments. These are significant penalties and indicative of an extremely unsafe working environment.
The Palermo’s Workers Union is demanding that Palermo Villa recognizes the Palermo’s Workers Union, re-instate the workers who were fired or replaced for participating in the strike, and negotiate a fair labor contract.
Palermo Pizzas are marketed under their own name and various other grocery store and products labels. I wish I could give you the names, but I can't.
A few simple things you can do.
1. Use the sample tweets below to show your solidarity with workers today
.@Palermos_Pizza until you stop harassing your workers, I will be getting my pizza elsewhere http://bit.ly/LUPdxJ#wiunion #solidarity
.@PalermosStrike I will be standing in #solidarity with u. @Palermos_Pizza needs 2 allow workers 2 have a voice on the job #wiunion #1u #p2
Petition @Palermos_Pizza to stop threatening & firing workers over union organizing http://act.ly/5yn RT to sign #palermosstrike
.@Palermos_Pizza I prefer my pizza without worker abuse. Stop intimating and harassing workers! http://bit.ly/MG2ttQ #wiunion #labor
Workers at @Palermos_Pizza r organizing 4 a safer workplace, a voice on the job. Show ur #solidarity: http://bit.ly/MG2ttQ #wiunion #labor
Thousands of petitions being delivered 2 @Palermos_Pizza 2day to tell them 2 stop harassing workers. http://bit.ly/MG2ttQ@PalermosStrike
Pizza topped with worker abuse? No thanks @Palermos_Pizza. Stop the harassment! http://bit.ly/LUPdxJ #nhunion #ohunion #palabor #1u
Wisconsinites delivering petitions 2 @Palermos_Pizza to demand they stop the harassment of workers. Show ur solidarity! #wiunion #labor #1u
2. Sign the Twitter act.ly petition
3. Go to Palermo’s Pizza’s Facebook page and leave a message that you want Palermo’s to stop the harassment of their workers, reinstate workers they fired and stop interfering with their efforts to get a voice on the job. Here is a link to Palermo’s Facebook page:http://www.facebook.com/palermospizza
4. If you haven’t already, sign the petition: http://signon.org/sign/tell-palermos-pizza-stop
Protesters deliver petitions to Palermo Villa
Abraham Moore (from left), Enrique Martinez and Danile Mercado prepare petitions Monday to be delivered to Palermo Villa Inc. by striking workers. The petitions contained signatures from 15,000 supporters of the striking workers.
Palermo Villa workers and their allies delivered petitions in pizza boxes to the company's Menomonee Valley facility Monday afternoon.
Eventually the police officers, following the Palermo administration's mandate that no child be allowed on company asphalt, carried some of the boxes inside themselves.
"Shame on Palermo!" protesters cried as police officers turned Daniella away.