Milwaukee Ald. Bob Donovan got a few things right when he spoke out yesterday about the conflict at Palermo’s Pizza.
The conflict and the boycott are very serious and workers deserve the right to organize a union.
What Alderman Donovan got wrong was saying that calling for a national boycott is going “way overboard”. Over 90 workers have been fired. The National Labor Relations Board is holding off on conducting a union representation election while it investigates the charges because it may be impossible to hold a fair vote under these circumstances. After repeated calls to meet to address the workers’ concerns, Palermo management still refuses to meet with workers to resolve differences. The situation has gone on for three months.
This is a dire situation for the workers who have been impacted. There is a reason why this struggle has garnered so much support from the Milwaukee labor community, the United Steelworkers, the National AFL-CIO, United Students Against Sweatshops, the United States Student Association, Interfaith Worker Justice, and many other organizations and individuals.
Palermo Villa, Inc. and the Fallucca family could end the boycott tomorrow. They could sit down with the Palermo’s Workers Union, recognize their Union, and return their most skilled, experienced and long-term employees back to their jobs making quality pizza.
By doing so, Palermo’s could be held up as an example of positive employee relations, like other iconic Milwaukee companies, such as Miller Brewing and Harley-Davidson that thrive because of cooperative relations with their unionized workforce.
If the situation continues as it is now, Palermo’s will be known nationwide as the place where workers are scheduled seven days a week for months at a time without regular days off, earn low wages despite many years of seniority and faithful loyalty to the company, and suffer injuries due to lack of proper health and safety procedures. Palermo’s will be known nationwide as the factory where dozens of workers were unjustly fired for organizing a union.
The picketing, chanting, light brigades and support actions in the Menominee Valley, local grocery stores, and Costco Warehouses from Pittsburgh to Los Angeles, can end immediately.
To Mayor Barrett, Alderman Donovan, and all public officials who care about upholding basic workers’ rights: Please tell the Fallucca family to meet with their hard-working and valued employees and negotiate a fair solution for the good of our city. Now.