Wednesday, February 6, 2013

WRC Report Determined Palermo Inc. Manipulated ICE Audit To Prevent Unionization At Pizza Plant

WRC independent report indicates Palermo Inc. engaged in illegal practice by manipulating an immigration audit to prevent workers from forming a union at their Milwaukee Menomonee Valley pizza plant.

By H. Nelson Goodson
February 6, 2013

Milwaukee,  WI - On Wednesday,  Voces de la Frontera (VDLF), an immigrant and worker rights non-profit organization announced in a press release that a new report released today by the independent Workers Rights Consortium (WRC), a labor rights monitoring organization found that Palermo's Pizza engaged in an illegal, ongoing anti-union campaign at their Milwaukee frozen pizza factory.
The WRC report provides new details of the specific violations of federal law found by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in its complaint against the company, and concludes that Palermo Inc. violated U.S. and international laws, as well as a University of Wisconsin labor code to which Palermo's is a party, according to VDLF.
Palermo Inc. engaged in and;

● violated federal labor law when it used an immigration audit as pretext to retaliate against workers' exercise of freedom of association.
● hostility to unionization was the motivating factor governing their threatening and retaliatory behavior towards employees.
● violated federal labor law when it permanently replaced some 30 striking workers who were not asked to reverify their work documents.
● violated UW-Madison's code of conduct governing a licensing agreement with Roundy's.
● engaged in a pattern of illegal "unfair labor practices" that were calculated to coerce workers from exercising their rights.
VDLF says, most significantly, the authors of the report found "substantial evidence" showing that "Palermo used an audit by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) as a pretext to terminate, on June 8, 2012, approximately 75 striking workers."
The WRC report also found that Palermo Inc. violated a standardized code of conduct employed by many of its affiliated universities, including UW-Madison, as part of their licensing agreements, known as the Collegiate Licensing Company's Special Agreement Regarding Labor Codes of Conduct, or "CLC Code of Conduct."
Over 180 colleges and universities, including UW-Milwaukee and UW-Madison, are affiliated with the WRC, which is recognized as an independent and trusted arbiter when determining whether manufacturers and sub-contractors, especially those whose products bear a university brand or logo, have violated a university or college's labor code of conduct.
In conclusion,  the WRC report provided the following recommendations: 

● "Reinstate the workers whom Palermo terminated or permanently replaced between June 2 and 8, 2012;"
● "Provide full back pay to the approximately 105 fired employees from the date of termination to the date of reinstatement;"
● "Recognize the results of a union membership verification exercise, conducted by a neutral third-party, to test the union's claim, as made on May 29, 2012, to represent a majority of the facility's workers" and;
● "Issue a statement to the workforce that affirms, among other things, the employees' right to unionize and that Palermo management will not interfere with this choice."
VDLF has filed an appeal with the NLRB in Washington, D.C. challenging the Milwaukee NLRB decision that it could not determine, if Palermo Inc. used an ICE audit to terminate employees involved in trying to form a union at their plant. VDLF has argued that Palermo manipulated an ICE audit to terminate 105 employees to avoid a union at the pizza manufacturing plant. 

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