Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Statewide Boycott Called By Palermo's Pizza Workers At Picket Line On Strike For Union Rights

Photos: HNG

Employees claim that they are forced to prepare and make pizza while they are sick at the company or they'll be fired after three to four days of being absent for being ill.

By H. Nelson Goodson
June 5, 2012

Milwaukee - On Tuesday, about 130 Palermo's Pizza workers who went on strike since Wednesday are calling for a statewide boycott of Palermo's products. The official call for a boycott will be announced on Wednesday, according to workers at the picket line.
Temperary workers were hired to replace the striking employees from multiple shifts. Palermo's executives haven't confirmed, if they have been terminated for demanding fair working conditions, sick leave, higher wages, benefits and the right to form a credited union at the plant.
Workers on strike say, ill employees are forced to work and make pizza products while being sick because they're not allowed to take extended sick leave or they'll face termination. Pizza products are at risk of contamination, if ill employees work closely with preparing food at the plant.
About 80% of the employees decided to organize and signed a petition to form a union as allowed under the National Labor Relations Act of 1935. The act requires companies to recognize a union, if 30% of employees petition for a company to recognize their union. The company refused to recognize their efforts to organize and threaten to terminate any employee that supported a union or any demand to seek extra days needed to get well when ill to prevent any health risks to customers buying products. The employees filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board.
Last week, a segment of the workforce at Palermo's Pizza at 3301 W. Canal Street main plant decided to walk out and strike.
Most of the employees at the picket line are Hispanic and they say, the strike will continued as long as it takes to get a fair settlement from Palermo's Villa owners. They are calling for people in Milwaukee and the surrounding metropolitan area and around the state to stop buying Parlermo's Pizza products. The strike will continue until the Palermo Villa executives concede to reasonable negiotiations leading to a neutral settle or compromise, which would benefit both the company and employees.
The striking Palermo's Pizza employees range in seniority from one to 10 years of employment at the company. A segment of the 200 to 250 employees at Palermo's received a notice from the company last week warning some employees of dismissals, if they continue to organize a workers union at the plant in Menomonee Valley. Another large segment of employees didn't receive the letter, according to some of the strikers.
Palermo's security were preventing potential customers from speaking, associating or taking photos of strikers from the property, if they were going into the shop to buy pizza. The Palermo Villa executives could not be contacted for comment on site about the boycott of their products.
The head of security wouldn't contact anyone in charge for a comment. Media outlets are being barred from the property, according to the Palermo's head of security who didn't want to be identified.
The strike was also sparked last week by a proposed stricker U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement employment vertification of workers at Palermo's Pizza. Palermo's Pizza is the brand of the frozen manufactured pizza by Palermo Villa, Inc.
Palermo's Pizza management has confirmed to local media that their employees are legally able to work at the company. The strike hasn't effected any production deadlines, according to management.
A Palermo's workers strike fund was created to help the striking employees.

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