Voces de la Frontera: Palermo workers speak out following meeting in Washington DC

CONTACT: Christine Neumann-Ortiz 414-736-2835

Brian Rothgery 414-207-8164

Results of Friday meeting between Palermo’s CEO Fallucca and AFL-CIO President Trumka revealed today outside Milwaukee production facility

MILWAUKEE, WI – Striking Palermo’s workers paused their daily picket line in front of Palermo’s, 3301 W. Canal St. in the Menomonee Valley for a brief press conference at 2:30 PM Friday. Workers offered immediate reaction to the outcome of a highly anticipated meeting between Palermo’s CEO Giacomo Fallucca and AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka in Washington D.C.

The AFL-CIO made it clear that they did not speak on behalf of the workers at Palermo Villa that are on strike for union recognition. The AFL-CIO communicated the Palermo workers most basic demand to the company: meet with us. At the meeting, Mr. Giacomo Falluca did not agree to meet with the striking workers.

Orlando Sosa, an employee of Palermo Villa for more than ten years and a member of the Organizing Committee of the Palermo Workers Union, expressed the sentiment of the workers when he said, “Palermos says they are a family company, but what kind of family refuses to talk with one another?”

Palermo workers have been on strike since June 1. They are demanding formal recognition of their union, the Palermo Workers Union, as well as immediate re-instatement of all striking workers who were fired, and for the company to follow direction from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement on re-verification and the audit process.

The strikers were informed that at the meeting between the AFL-CIO and Palermo Villa representatives, that the owners once again refused to reinstate the fired workers or agree to union recognition despite the fact that a supermajority of workers signed the petition and went out on strike.

On the contrary, Palermo executive Giacomo Falluca tried to secure the AFL-CIO’s support for a union election. The AFL-CIO made it clear that they support union elections, but only elections that are fair.

According to Sosa, “the Fallucas saying they want a union election is insincere. If they really cared about what workers thought, they would meet with us. We are not so naïve that we would agree to a rigged election. If the Fallucas are interested in talking about a fair process–they know how to reach us—we’re right here in Milwaukee!”

According to Christine Neumann-Ortiz, Director of Voces de la Frontera, “How can Palermo Villa claim they want a union election, when they are conducting an aggressive anti-union campaign, and denying the strikers the right to vote in what they claim to be a fair election.”

Michael Bolton of the USW told strikers, “our commitment to you is—you will never be in this fight alone. Together we will fight management in the streets, in the boardroom, and at their country clubs. And we will fight one day longer than they are willing to.”

Sheila Cochran, Secretary Treasurer of the Milwaukee Area Labor Council expressed her solidarity with workers, saying, “A company that received $20 million in public dollars should have high standards to ensure that workers’ rights are respected.”

Palermo’s refusal to recognize the union and the resulting strike action has prompted a national boycott of Palermo products across the country. Numerous labor and community organizations, including the United States Student Association and United Students Against Sweatshops, have endorsed the boycott. The national AFL-CIO has committed to continue their national boycott of Palermo Products.

The striking Palermo’s workers are maintaining a web site at http://www.sliceofjustice.com