Mayor Tom Barrett weighs in on labor dispute between Palermo’s, workers

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

MILWAUKEE -- Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett is now weighing in on a labor dispute between Palermo's Pizza and dozens of workers who have been fighting to form a union. 

Mayor Barrett is calling for a "timely and fair union election" for striking Palermo's workers. Though it may seem like a statement in favor of the workers, Mayor Barrett also said "Palermo's is a valued corporate citizen. It is now time for workers to have a vote."

Christine Neumann-Ortiz is with Voces de la Frontera -- the organization supporting the workers' efforts to unionize. She says workers only want a union vote if all employees that have been fired by Palermo's are allowed back on the job to be a part of it.

"The mayor's definition of a good corporate citizen is very poor. We want a fair election. A fair election is when the majority of workers are able to vote in that election," Neumann-Ortiz said.

A decision last week by the National Labor Relations Board mostly vindicated the pizza company in their firings. It found that a handful of workers were retaliated against and fired for crossing picket lines, but those 75 employees were justly terminated because they lacked legal work documents.

"It is against the law to continue to employ any person that the government has identified as being ineligible to work in the United States," a Palermo's official said.

Palermo's now says it wants a union vote and they agree with Mayor Barrett's take on the issue.

"We welcome the mayor's statement and we agree wholeheartedly that it's time for our employees to have the opportunity to vote to determine what their future should look like," a Palermo's official said.

Mayor Barrett's statement called for a "fair union election," but Voces disagrees about what a fair election would be. Mayor Barrett appears to be siding with Palermo's and calling for the vote "now." 

Voces says their only plan right now is to appeal the Labor Board's decision.