- United States
Workers are staging protests after the termination of 89 immigrant workers by Palermo’s Pizza in Milwaukee, United States. The labor unions alleges that the 89 immigrants were fired because they were trying to unionize.
Whereas the company, Palermo’s Pizza, said that it had received a letter from the department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) asking them to provide verification credentials of a number of the company’s employees’ legal status. The company said that it had notified its employees to do so.
The management at Palermo Pizza, said that when these workers failed to comply with the company’s request, it had to reluctantly terminate them. The company said that if it hadn’t terminated the workers on grounds of being illegal immigrants, the government agency had warned it of being liable to pay hefty fines.
The workers, on the other hand, claim that prior to the letters delivered to them by the company asking for their documentation, 150 workers in the company had come together to sign a petition for unionization and submitted the same a couple of days later to the company’s management. They said that shortly afterwards, they were delivered these letters demanding them to produce their legal documentation.
The workers said that the company deliberately informed the federal agencies to avoid its workers from unionizing in the factory. The workers said that they have been working in most unfavorable working conditions and with poor wage incomes.
They said that the company avoided increasing the standard of their work place and decided to get rid of them through the ICE.
To protest Palermo’s actions, workers and different labor unions have come together. The labor unions supporting the workers are protesting and have called for a boycott of all Palermo products. The labor unions raised their complaints to the federal level, in response to which the ICE in an unprecedented move ordered a ‘stay’ to the current enforcement of the termination of the workers until further notice.
Despite the orders from the ICE, the administration at Palermo sent termination letters to the workers. They said that the ‘stay letter’ from the ICE was ambiguous and the company had to, keeping in mind the penalty of noncompliance, dispatch the termination letters.
“We were put in an impossible situation,” said Palermo’s Marketing director, Chris Dresselhuys. Chris, along with the management at Palermo, claims it is the company that is facing injustice. They said that the fact that they are complying with the federal law and avoiding any penalties is not in the least sense unfair to someone.
An immigrant workers’ center in Milwaukee, Voces de la Frontera has urged the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to rule that the management at Palermo deliberately fired the workers to avoid unionization in the company.
But the management at Palermo is accusing Voces of manipulating the workers in to signing the union petition in time when the country was going through an immigration crackdown, and it was evident that it would come upon Palermo as well.
Voces also claimed that until the ICE rescinds or resumes the enforcement, the NLRB must urge Palermo to reinstate the fired workers. But the company refused to do as such, as it had already started hiring to cover up for fired employees’ posts.
The US Supreme Court had also ruled that the NLRB is not entitled to demand the company to reinstate illegal immigrants “who were improperly fired for seeking to unionize.”
Tags: Chris Dresselhuys, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, National Labour Relations Board, Palermo’s Pizza, United States, US Supreme Court, Voces de la Frontera