Since 2008, workers from Palermo's Pizza have been working with Voces de la Frontera, a Milwaukee affiliate working with immigrants and low-wage workers, to address the faulty, unsafe machinery and inadequate training at the Palermo's factory. Palermo's management failed to address workers' concerns and workers were suffering severe lacerations from the machines that lacked safety protections.
"One day, my sleeve got caught in the machine, sliced open my pinky and I almost lost two fingers. I was in so much pain, but the company wanted me to go back to work almost immediately," a Palermo's worker named Alberto told Slice of Justice, an online tool and resource center focused on the dispute between Palermo's workers and management.
And since management didn't respond to the concerns of the workers, they're working to form a union to improve the working conditions and issues regarding low-wages and benefits. Nearly 150 workers decided to strike. Recently, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) began an audit of work authorization documents at Palermo's, even though there is an official agreement between ICE and the Department of Labor that ICE wouldn't audit places where workers are organizing. ICE has since stopped the audit, but not before Palermo's fired 85 employees for immigration problems.
ICE didn't stop Palermo's Workers, and they need support from the worker justice community to improve the working conditions, wages and benefits. There are a few things you can do to help!
The labor movement has launched a national boycott against Palermo.
Costco is a large distributor of Palermo's pizza under the name "Kirkland" brand that buys 60 percent of Palermo's pizza. Costco, often reputed as an ethical alternative to Walmart, needs to act and put pressure on Palermo's to reform the way it treats their workers.
"We need to be united to tell Costco to stop buying Palermo's pizza and be on the side of the workers," said Rosemarie Molina, the National Boycott Coordinator of Palermo's Pizza. "Immigration status should never be used to union bust."
Striking workers need your help too! Sixty-seven of the families who are on strike and have lost their income desperately need economic support from you in order to continue this fight. There are at least 20 couples that are both on strike, and most have children or elderly parents that depend on them. Donate to the strike fund and support the workers and their families.
Check out Slice of Justice to follow the campaign and find an action schedule.