Workers at the Palermo’s Pizza factory in Milwaukee, Wis., went on strike May 30 after the company retaliated with threats of termination and deportation against the workers’ attempts to organize a union. The workers have been on the picket line eight hours a day, six days a week calling for the company to give them their jobs back and agree to recognize and meet with the Palermo’s Workers’ Union. The union is not affiliated with the AFL-CIO or any other business union.
Palermo workers are organizing in part because the company forces them to work and handle food while they are sick, making them suffer and leading to a risk of food contamination. 80% of Palermo’s workers signed a petition for union recognition but management refuses to recognize the union, even though by law only 30% is required.
Palermo’s management has been trying all kinds of tactics, legal and illegal, to crush the workers’ attempts to form a union to fight low wages and bad working conditions. Here are some of the ways the bosses are trying to intimidate the workers into silence and submission:
- Palermo’s locked their 1st shift workers inside the plant when the 2nd and 3rd shift went on strike. (Remember the Triangle Factory fire?)
- Palermo’s has used an agency to hire scabs to replace many of the striking workers. It appears they have no plans to negotiate with the union.
- Palermo’s sent a letter to workers threatening to fire them for organizing.
- Palermo’s management has threatened the workers who remain at their jobs that if they join the picket line they will be fired and replaced.
- Palermo’s threatened to call in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to check the immigration status of the workers, most of whom are Latino.
Obviously, these workers are up against a company that will go to great lengths to stop them from organizing! As supporters of rank-and-file power and independent unions, let’s stand in solidarity with these factory workers and help them in their struggle:
- Call Palermo’s and let them know you will not be buying any of their frozen pizzas: (414) 643-0919
- Donate to the Palermo Workers’ Union strike fund here: www.wepay.com/donations/170361
- If you live in or near Milwaukee, bring food and water to share and join these courageous workers on the picket line. Contact Voces de la Frontera, an immigrant rights group assisting the workers, for more information: www.vdlf.org
It’s important to recognize that the Palermo Pizza Factory workers’ struggle is our struggle, and by standing up to their bosses these workers are fighting for the entire working class. An injury to one is an injury to all! Please help out in any way you can!