Palermo Workers Launch National Boycott of Palermo Products, Call for Resolution of Labor Dispute

Students, working people and community members around the country stand in support, join boycott efforts  

MILWAUKEE, WI –

Joined by union members, community leaders and students from the United States Student Association (USSA), the nation’s oldest and largest student-led organization, Palermo workers and Youth Empowered in the Struggle (YES) will launch a national kickoff event in Middleton, Wisconsin tomorrow, asking Costco to pull Palermo/Kirkland pizza from its shelves. Costco is the largest retailer of Palermo products.

Workers from Palermo’s Pizza, a large frozen pizza manufacturer in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, have been on strike since June 1, 2012 to protest unfair labor practices.  The workers are seeking union recognition and reinstatement after their employer fired over 75 workers.  Many workers at Palermo’s face serious health hazards, have no sick days and make little more than the minimum wage.  After nearly two month of striking, Palermo workers continue standing strong in the face of employer threats and intimidation.

The launch in Wisconsin will bring hundreds of working people to Costco to highlight Palermo’s worker abuses and distribute boycott information to Costco customers.  In Milwaukee, the boycott has gained traction among consumers, small business owners, and working people, with several businesses committed to standing with workers in defense of the right to organize.

The New York Times profiled the campaign in an article today.

Sunday’s event kicks off actions on a national scale at Palermo retailers in the coming weeks. Workers and students across the US will be leafleting stores carrying Palermo products, asking businesses and consumers to support the workers’ rights to respect, dignity and safety at work.

Raul De la Torres, a striking worker from the Palermo Workers Union says, “We are taking our message beyond the workplace to consumers and the community because all workers have a right to a voice on the job and safe workplace. It’s a shame the company still refuses to recognize the worker’s concerns and hear the voices of consumers.”

USSA Students from across the nation will be coordinating their national conference in Madison this weekend to join supporters of the Palermo Workers Union at Costco on Sunday.  USSA’s endorsement of the Palermo’s campaign is part of a growing community support from faith groups, civil rights organizations and unions, including the National AFL-CIO and the United Steelworkers.

Sean Orr, a student from Youth Empowered in the Struggle (YES) added, “As students and pizza lovers, we support the worker’s right to build a better life for themselves and their families. We call on Palermo’s Pizza to stop its efforts threatening and terminating their employees.”

WHO: Palermo workers, union members, community leaders, Youth Empowered in the Struggle (YES), United States Student Association (USSA) and more.
WHAT: Rally at Costco in Middleton, WI to ask Costco to pull Palermo/Kirkland pizza from its shelves.
WHEN: Sunday, July 29th 2012, 9:30 am
WHERE: Costco, 2150 Deming Way, Middleton, Wisconsin 53562
Speakers:
            Christine Neumann-Ortiz, Executive Director of Voces de la Frontera
            Victor Sanchez, President of USSA
            Courtney Morse, President of United Council
            Raul de la Torre, Palermo Workers Union
            Sean Orr, Youth Empowered in the Struggle
            Gary Mitchell, President of AFSCME Local 2412 & Costco member
            Kevin Gundlach, President of South Central Labor Federation

For background on the Palermo’s strike, visit www.sliceofjustice.com.

Click here to read today’s New York Times article profiling the strike.

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