Palermo’s agrees to settlement with National Labor Relations Board
MILWAUKEE (WITI) — Palermo Villa, Inc., announced Tuesday, July 30th that is has asked the National Labor Relations Board to set a date for an employee election on forming a union after the company agreed to settle all remaining issues with the regional National Labor Relations Board office.
“We have reluctantly agreed to this settlement, despite believing that the facts strongly support our position. However, rather than continue to draw out the process and go to court, we have agreed to the settlement with reservation so that an election can take place,” said Palermo President and CEO Giacomo Fallucca. “We do not admit to any fault in this negotiated settlement, but it’s time to move forward and let the voices of our workers be heard.
As part of the settlement, eight of 116 former workers will be rehired and receive back pay. One of the eight has already been rehired and returned to work late last year. The company also will post signs confirming that it is committed to following all relevant labor laws and added that the agreement reaffirms Palermo’s commitment to strong corporate citizenship.
Fallucca said that resolving matters with the NLRB and avoiding litigation will allow an election to be scheduled without further delay.
“As Mayor Tom Barrett recently said, the fact that our country doesn’t have a clear national immigration policy created a twilight zone both for some of the workers and the company as well. Palermo’s was caught between two federal agencies with unclear policies, and we had no choice but to follow the law. While we have reluctantly agreed to the settlement and believe the facts and law are on our side, it is better to put the matter behind us,” he added.
“This mean-spirited campaign has hurt our family and our employees, but the real tragedy is that the City of Milwaukee and the ongoing effort to create jobs have been hurt. Palermo’s extends its gratitude and sincere thanks to the thousands of supporters who have reached out to us over the past year,” he said. Fallucca also noted there has been an overwhelming show of community support for the family-owned business, which has remained strong.
Fallucca pointed out that there was significant evidence to show that none of the eight workers were eligible for either reinstatement or back pay. He added that the company settled the cases solely in the interest of moving forward and allowing the workers to vote on whether they want to form a union.
“Our request to the NLRB is to schedule a fair and legal vote as soon as possible,” he said. “Let’s have the workers make their own decision, and our company pledges to accept whatever it is.”
Voces de la Frontera, which has been supporting the fired workers, says Palermo’s was retaliating against workers who tried to form a union.
Voces de la Frontera issued a lengthy statement on the news of the settlement agreement.
“Palermo’s has finally been forced to confront the reality that they broke the law,” said Christine Neumann-Ortiz, Executive Director of Voces de la Frontera. “They want Milwaukee to see them as a good corporate citizen, but this settlement is further evidence they violated the rights of US citizen and lawful permanent workers who joined forces with immigrant workers to challenge unsafe conditions , low wages, and mistreatment. The only language Palermo understands is money, and today they will have to apologize for violating workers’ right to organize in the only language they understand. Palermo Villa now stands as a national example of why we need immigration reform that protects the rights of all workers against employers that exploit and profit from immigrant labor.”
According to Voces da la Frontera:
“The settlement agreement vindicates employee claims that Palermo Pizza violated federal labor laws meant to protect workers rights to form a union. Beyond illegal terminations, some of the other serious violations include:
- Palermo’s threatened employees with reprisals because of their union and/or protected concerted activities.
- Palermo’s told employees who were attempting to strike that they could not leave the facility, and in fact physically blocked the attempts of employees to exit the facility.
- Palermo’s threatened to discharge employees for engaging in protected concerted and/or union activities.
- Palermo’s created the impression that it was engaged in the surveillance of employees’ union and/or protected concerted activities.
- On or about June 1, 2012 and continuing until on or about June 8, 2012 and on multiple other dates set forth, Palermo’s refused to allow employees to work and/or discharged them in retaliation for their actual and/or perceived union/and or protected concerted activities.”
Voces de la Frontera says “numerous issues related to the labor dispute remain:”
- There is a pending NRLB settlement with BG Staffing, a temp agency that was the employer for numerous fired union supporters.
- The NLRB is currently investigating recent charges that Palermo’s illegally fired an African-American employee who was engaged in pro-union activity at work.
- The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is expected to open an investigation into Palermo’s refusal to release federally mandated records of injuries which have been requested by a lawfully designated representative of numerous employees.
- Palermo’s has so far refused requests from elected officials to provide evidence that they fulfilled promises to create family supporting jobs with some of the $48 million in taxpayer money they have received in recent years, including loans they received via the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation.
- Palermo’s employees march 18 miles to owner’s home
- UWM continues to sell Palermo’s Pizza on campus after protest
- Workers try to get their jobs back at Palermo’s Pizza
- Mayor Tom Barrett weighs in on labor dispute between Palermo’s, workers
- Labor union levels accusations against Palermo’s for use of public subsidies