By H. Nelson Goodson
October 14, 2014
Milwaukee, WI - On Tuesday, Voces de la Frontera (VDLF), a non-profit immigrant and workers rights organization confirmed that a boycott against Palermo Villa, Inc. pizza products continues today. The boycott of Palermo pizza products is ongoing with the sponsorship of the AFL-CIO, according to Primitivo Torres, spokesman for VDLF. A news release concerning the boycott will be made available soon, Torres told Hispanic News Network U.S.A. (HNNUSA).
In July, nearly 80 former employees from Palermo Villa with the aid of VDLF decided to vacate their efforts to unionize at Palermo Pizza. The former employees were terminated at Palermo Pizza after an ICE audit determined they were unauthorized to work and after they couldn't provide any legal status documentation to work. The employees and VDLF say, they were fired because they began efforts to unionize before an ICE audit, which Palermo's administration retaliated and used an ICE audit to get rid of those employees attempting to form a union in 2012.
Eight workers who walked out in support of 100 employees and got fired in 2012 got $106,000 in back pay in settlement. Palermo Villa erred in firing those employees and violated federal labor laws, according to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in Wisconsin. Four of the eight fired workers decided to return to work. The remaining Palermo former workers filed a petition with the NLRB to unionize. The NLRB notified Palermo Villa last week that the former employees in July had vacated their petition to unionize.
The former employees since then have moved on with their lives and gotten other jobs, according to Torres. VDLF efforts to unionize at Palermo Pizza led to an increase in wages, but Palermo employment practices continues with same issues dealing with safety factors and treatment of employees when injured at work and other work related policies. Without a union at Palermo Pizza, employees are subject to quick termination without recourse, mandatory overtime with few days off, limited sick days and lack of represention to bargain for better wages or insurance benefits.
In May 2013, the U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued several citations for safety violations and for withholding information about certain safety incidents against Palermo Villa, Inc. totalling $38,500 in fines.
So far in the past year, Palermo Inc. has paid at least $63,000 for health and safety violations that included a 22-year-old man with a three finger amputation in May 7, 2013. The recent three OSHA citations for violations totaled $13,500, which each violation totaled $4,500, according to VDLF.
Palermo's has so far refused requests from elected officials to provide evidence that they fulfilled promises to create family supporting jobs with some of the $48 million in taxpayer money they have received in recent years, including loans they received via Governor Scott Walker's (R) Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation.
Christine Neumann-Ortiz, the executive director of VDLF could not be reached for comment, because she was unavailable due to the untimely lost of her grandmother at the age of 102 in a tragic accident in Mexico late last week and is in Mexico with family members. Two other family members are in critical condition.