One of the most interesting disputes at the moment is the one at Palermo’s Pizza.
You can watch the video:
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There is currently a labour dispute at Palermo’s Pizza, a large producer of frozen pizza in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. They produce pizzas which are available across the US, including pizzas sold under other brand names.
The case is a really interesting intersection of migrant labour and union organising. We held a web conference with Palermo’s organiser, Brian Rothgery, which you can watch or listen to above – it’s a very interesting case study of an organising campaign and a dispute.
This summer, three quarters of Palermo’s pizza workers signed a petition to form a union – and 89 of them, all immigrants, were fired. Palermo’s claims it was forced to fire them because the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) had ordered a crackdown on workers with inadequate paperwork – but ICE has said it will withdraw any immigration enforcement, as this should not be used in a labour dispute. However, the workers have not been reinstated, and the dispute continues.
There is a real irony to this story, as the company was founded by Sicilian immigrants and remains in the family.
The campaign, building on networks created during the dispute with Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, has very successfully mobilised the US and labour and progressive movement.
The campaign is pressurising Palermo’s distribution network, and asking them to tell Palermo’s to respect workers’ rights to organise. The main distributor of Palermo’s pizzas is Costco, an international company. Costco has a comparatively good reputation for labour relations and social responsibility, and campaigners hope that pressure from them will tip the balance in favour of the Palermo’s workforce.
You can help them by signing the letter to Costco, or contacting a local branch in your country.
Palermo’s pizzas are also available in a lot of other grocery stores as well as college canteens. Palermo’s sponsors several college and professional sports teams, including the Milwaukee Bucks, Milwaukee Brewers, Milwaukee Admirals, Wisconsin Badgers, Milwaukee Wave, Marquette Golden Eagles, Chicago Bears, Kansas City Chiefs, Minnesota Twins, Minnesota Golden Gophers, Iowa State Cyclones, Iowa Hawkeyes, and Wisconsin Timber Rattlers.
Feel free to contact any of the teams trough their social media pages, asking them to support Palermo’s workers.
Visit the campaign website, A Slice of Justice, for more information and to express solidarity.
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