Stand Up For Milwaukee And Buy A Palermo's Pizza
Want to do something positive for the local community? Want to stand up against bullying and thuggery? Want to support an outstanding local business that is being unfairly targeted by special interest groups seeking to advance their own political agendas?
If your answer to any or all of these questions is "yes", may I suggest a course of action?
Buycott Palermo's Pizza. That's right, this weekend head over to your local grocery store and buy a boatload of Palermo's frozen pizzas. Trust me, they taste good - and you'll feel better about yourself for making the effort.
Palermo's, which markets frozen pizzas nationwide, is a Milwaukee-based company that employs approximately 450 workers. Despite the fact that the labor force is largely unskilled, Palermo's pays very competitive wages; offers health, dental and vision benefits; makes a contribution to 401(k) plans of workers, even without an employee match; gives paid short- and long-term disability coverage; offers 80 hours paid time off; provides a scholarship program for children of employees; and on and on and on.
In other words, Palermo's is a pretty darn good place to work - especially given current economic conditions in Milwaukee.
So why have some workers been on strike since June 1st? Good question!
Palermo's employs a number of Spanish-speaking immigrants. As such, Palermo's has been targeted for unionization by what has been euphemistically referred to an "immigrant and worker rights group". Many of us believe these efforts are less about the welfare of Palermo's employees and more about some of these outside groups trying to prove that they remain relevant after the failed effort to recall Governor Walker.
In any event, quite some time ago, Palermo's was notified by immigration officials that an audit of worker employment forms would be done to verify workers' eligibility. When approximately 75 workers were ultimately unable to provide proof of Social Security numbers, these employees were let go.
Strikers are demanding that the National Labor Relations Board order Palermo's to rehire the fired immigrants (who can't prove their immigration status) so the workers can vote on whether to form a union. Presumably, union organizers figure that there aren't enough votes to form a union without the votes of the undocumented workers.
Meanwhile, the AFL-CIO is calling for a nationwide boycott of Palermo's Pizza. In particular, Costco - which sells Palermo's pizzas under the house brand name "Kirkland" - has been targeted by the boycott efforts.
If a majority of Palermo's workers want to unionize, fine. It is, after all, still a free country. On the other hand, if the only way you can get enough votes to form a union is to count the votes of those not legally able to work at the company, that's a different matter.
I don't get the impression that the current strike is having too much of an impact on Palermo's. They've already hired over 80 replacement workers. Still, it's disappointing to think that actions like this could - in the long run -harm a local company.
Though short-sighted, the AFL-CIO certainly has the right to urge consumers to boycott Palermo's. The appropriate response to these tactics? Buycott!
So, as the summer winds down, why not buy a Palermo's frozen pizza (or "Kirkland" if you shop at Costco), fire up the oven, and stand up for a great Milwaukee employer!