Statement by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka On the Worker Rights Consortium Report on Palermo’s Pizza

Washington, DC–(ENEWSPF)–February 7, 2013. Yesterday, the Worker Rights Consortium (WRC), an independent labor rights watchdog organization  issued a report affirming that Palermo Villa, Inc., the fourth largest frozen pizza manufacturer in the U.S. and a producer of University of Wisconsin licensed pizza, violated the University of Wisconsin’s labor standards code.

The WRC report found that Palermo Villa’s actions were specifically intended to prevent workers from exercising their right to form a union. Furthermore, the WRC concluded that Palermo’s manipulated federal immigration enforcement procedures and used this as pretext to fire about 75 striking immigrant workers

Below is a statement by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka:

“WRC’s findings make clear what workers have been saying all along – that they were punished for attempting to exercise their basic rights. As these striking workers remain strong in the face of bold opposition, they continue to inspire others across the country struggling for a voice on the job, and fighting for their right to come together through a union. When companies like Palermo’s flout the commitment they’ve made to their community, while taking advantage of our broken immigration process and the families who are most vulnerable, it’s not just a couple of workers who are affected, but everyone who believes in a strong, unified community.”

“Ultimately, the WRC report speaks to the broader need to solve the immigration crisis in America. Currently there are 11 million people working and contributing to the economy who do not have equal rights and protections in the workplace. When our immigration laws can no longer be used as a tool of retaliation, we can raise the standard for all workers and build a better America.”

The Worker Rights Consortium (WRC) is an independent labor rights monitoring organization, conducting investigations of working conditions in factories around the globe. The WRC conducts independent, in-depth investigations; issues public reports on factories producing for major brands; and aids workers at these factories in their efforts to end labor abuses and defend their workplace rights. The WRC’s primary focus is the labor practices of factories that make university-related apparel.

The National Labor Relations Board also recently reviewed Palermo’s actions towards its employees and is proceeding to complaint on findings that Palermo’s violated federal labor laws in several instances. The NLRB stopped short of finding intent to prevent workers from organizing a union via manipulation of immigration regulations—a decision that the Palermo Workers Union rejects and has appealed.