Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Palermo's Cited For Multiple Safety Violations Showing Need For Unionization

The labor struggles at Palermo's Pizza has lasted well over a year already.

During that time we have learned the Palermo's has been:
Despite Palermo's multiple violations of the law and poor reputation, right wing morons like Milwaukee Alderman Bob Donovan stood up for the company.

Milwaukee County Executive Emperor Chris Abele also came out against the workers, using the irrefutable logic that he is friends with the owners.  Abele even went so far as to say the workers have it pretty good and shouldn't be griping about anything.

Radio squawkers cawed and paid hacks blarghed for days and weeks that Palermo's is such a great company and berated and badgered anyone who would try to do the right thing of boycotting the pizza maker until they started treating their workers with respect.

I would expect that these three amigos - Abele, Sykes and Donovan - will make public apologies today and offer to stand with the workers who had their claims of poor working conditions confirmed by OSHA.Per a press release from Voces de la Frontera:
Today the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced major new citations against Palermo Villa, Inc. Members of the Palermo Workers Union expressed alarm over the continued disregard for the safety of workers at the Milwaukee pizza factory, anger at the revelation that Palermo’s covered up years of injuries dating to 2008, and concern for potential dangers to the broader community. Click here to view the OSHA citations.

The news comes in the immediate aftermath of a reported amputation at the factory on May 7th, involving a 21-year old Burmese man who lost three fingers, in yet another machinery accident at Palermo's.

“Dangerous working conditions at Palermo’s drove us to seek union recognition and the ability to address safety issues without fear of reprisal,” said Cesar Hernandez, a Palermo Worker Union member who previously suffered a partial amputation at the factory.

“Union representation would enable workers to establish our own workplace safety committees and address the safety issues that we know are serious, even if Palermo’s is unwilling to do so.”

The new citations issued by OSHA carry fines totaling $38,500. These include seven “serious” violations and one “Other-than-serious” violation for process safety violations surrounding the ammonia refrigeration system. Ammonia is a deadly gas that in large quantities can cause mass casualties. OSHA defines a “serious” violation as existing “when the workplace hazard could cause an accident or illness that would most likely result in death or serious physical harm”.

Ammonia is used in food production for refrigeration and freezing, and the refrigeration system was expanded in 2011, according to the citations. It was the cause of the West Texas fertilizer plant tragedy last month.

“Palermo’s is located less than a mile from Miller Park,” said Hernandez. “It’s of great concern that the surrounding community could be threatened with potentially catastrophic safety hazards.”

In addition to the numerous citations, the OSHA letter exposed that Palermo’s hid information about injuries that should have been provided. In a cover letter to Giacomo Fallucca that accompanies the OSHA citations, dated May 17, 2013, OSHA criticized the Palermo’s president and CEO for redacting injury details from a federally required injury log for the period between 2008 and 2011.

OSHA called upon Fallucca specifically to “immediately provide the original requester copies of the un-redacted OSHA logs.”

“Everyone who was injured earned the right to at least have what happened to them investigated and analyzed, rather than swept under the rug as though these injuries never happened,” said Steve Sallman, a health and safety specialist with the United Steelworkers.

"Furthermore, the tragic amputation earlier this month may have been prevented if Palermo's had not suppressed employees' lawful efforts to address health and safety issues by forming a union."

OSHA is now the second federal agency to find Palermo’s guilty of violating federal law. The National Labor Relations Board found in November 2012 that Palermo’s threatened and retaliated against workers who sought union recognition and ordered 11 workers reinstated with back-pay, but Palermo’s has yet to comply with this order.
So despite all the yammerings of the right, we find that the truth is that the unions and the workers are again correct.

This is why the workers at Palermo's need to be allowed to unionize without any further harassment or threats from the company.  This is why we need to continue to put pressure on Palermo's by boycotting their products and to get the stores, campuses and other places to join us in demanding that Palermo's starts acting like the company it claims to be.

And this is why the corporate puppets like Sykes, Wigderson, Donovan and Abele need to shut up and stop proving themselves to be fools.  We figured that out already without the constant reminders.

And if you can, please help support the Palermo's workers who have been fighting for their rights for over a year now.


  1. What ever happened to employees voting for union representation?

    Looks like the Obama Administration is using OSHA as a tool, just like they have done with the IRS and EPA.

    1. They can't take the vote until they clear up all the cases of worker intimidation by Palermo's.

      Nice to see that the law and order types have given up that line now too.

  2. Name one case you lying asshole!

    1. "Name one case you lying asshole!"

      Setting aside for a moment the eloquence with which you make demands, allow me to "name one case" if you will?

      You apparently haven't been following the Palermo's issue in depth. At least, not beyond whatever shallow right wing nonsensical rhetoric you choose to comfort yourself with. I only say that because if you had been following the issue, you wouldn't need to ask. Hell, if you actually bothered to read the contributions presented at this blog (I know, reading isn't for everyone), then you perhaps could've answered your own genuinely inquisitive question. Just a tip, those little blue words in the paragraphs are links. Click on them to be magically taken to other websites. You could also Google your question. That is, assuming you're actually honestly trying to find the answer. No, I can tell you're the uninitiated type that doesn't really want to have to do their own thinking, so allow me to help you.

      Let's start here-

      What happened with those charges you ask? Let's see:

      That article is from November of last year, pay particular attention to this section, "Gottschalk said he found reason to believe that the company did violate the law by telling “five or six” employees that if they left their jobs to join the strikers, “they would not have jobs to come back to.” Gottschalk said he is recommending that the company “cease and desist” from engaging in such “retaliation” and restore those employees’ jobs. Irving Gottschalk is the National Labor Relations Board Milwaukee regional director.

      That takes us to here:

      Here is the relevant information pertaining to your question-
      "But there’s still an appeal pending with the National Labor Relations Board in Washington, D.C., after a NLRB Milwaukee office investigation into allegations of unfair labor practices found no evidence Palermo fired the workers in retaliation for union-organizing efforts. A worker vote to form an in-house union cannot proceed until the appeal is resolved."

      Finally we come to this:

      Again, the pertinent areas:
      "But the local NLRB decision last November also ruled against Palermo on other allegations. It determined Palermo unlawfully fired a handful of employees who didn’t join a workers strike, but were absent from work June 1, 2012, the day the strike began. It also found that Palermo and its temporary staffing agency, Dallas-based BG Staffing, made several unlawful statements to workers near the beginning of the strike, incorrectly telling workers they would lose their jobs if they joined the strike, local NLRB officials have said."


      "As we’ve previously commented, we will be working with the parties to try to secure a mutually agreeable settlement to remedy the allegations which we found to have merit,” Mandelman said Tuesday.

      So, there is the "one case". Had you been interested in honestly assessing what was happening at Palermo's, you could've found that all out on your own. Instead, you resorted to ad hominem, personal attacks. And if were being honest, really lame attacks at that. Asshole? Really? That's your best effort? You guys are sadly lacking in the creativity arena. I'm sure you'll be apologizing to Capper posthaste, as you wouldn't want to come off like a completely and utterly insincere now would you?