As part of my google newsfeed, I can subscribe to stories by keyword, tailored to my interests.
One of many I've followed with great interest is the Palermo Pizza workers struggle to unionize and fight deplorable and dangerous conditions. I'm active in supporting this struggle and others like the United Farm Workers because I had spent a great part of my early working life struggling in the food industry. From firsthand knowledge, I've become very sympathetic to how arduous this work can be.
My google news searches the web, on my behalf and does a great job delivering this information to me on my news page, as well as my gmail inbox.
These results can sometimes yield surprising results, and this morning was a great example of that. Let me fill you in a little more, following the orange squiggled demarcation line of death....
I came to a surprising conclusion about the Palermo Pizza Strike, that this was a unique struggle when I learned that one of managements key weapons in suppressing workers, had failed. And miserably so.
You see, Palermos had a significant portion of its workforce who were undocumented, or of somewhat less than legal immigration status. This was an intentional move, on their part (and also a lot of other food processors, like Tyson, IBP etc.) because it means that they can undermine a smorgasbord of basic human, safety and workplace rights in an attempt to satiate the insatiable drive for, ever yet higher corporate profits.
Simply put, Palermos (like many others in this industry) illegally trade human suffering, misery and toil for money.
And when some of these workers objected, Palermos deemed them objectionable. And not just because they represented a threat to their bottom line, but because they had questionable legal immigration status. These hard working souls who had the temerity to complain, to protest, to organize soon found themselves in an unenviable position; reported to ICE, by their employer and summarily dismissed. Deportation would soon be an inevitability, as it was when this tactic was used at so many other food processing facilities (See the Hormel pork slaughter plant in Minnesota, as an example).
Soon to be deported?
Not this time. Because in a rare move, ICE decided against this, that the workers rights may had been violated and this fact would serve as a basis of protection from deportation and NOT as a basis of intimidation.
I reflect on this case, at times when disappointment of the President overwhelms. That elections do matter. And this example is a case in point.
These workers deserve our support, for their courage against formidable odds. They deserve to be reinstated, with back pay and to have their union recognized. Palermos needs to learn that actions have consequences. Please do all you can to show your support.
You can start by signing a petition here.