The Vindication of Palermos
The fallout from last week's NLRB ruling on Palermo's was two-fold: not only was Palermo's roundly vindicated, but the manner of its victory also delivered a major hit to the credibility of its major critic, Voces de la Frontera. As a spokesman for Palermo's said last week, he ruling "shows that their efforts were designed to give a bum rap to Palermo’s, our employees and the City of Milwaukee.."
At the heart of the attack on Palermo's was the allegation that workers had been fired as retaliation for trying to form a union. The company had long argued that the workers were fired because of an ICE audit that found that they were undocumented. The NLRB not only found that Palermo's was right, but also that Voces had attempted to manipulate the process by starting a union petition after the immigration issues came to light.
Additional irony here; it is the company that is now pushing for a vote on forming a union, while it is Voces and their unionista allies who are resisting (perhaps because they know they will lose.)
"Irv Gottschalk, regional director of the NLRB, said, “The claim [made by Voces] was that all of this was really in retaliation for union activity. And my conclusion is the evidence didn’t show that.”
On May 27, 2012, Palermo’s legal counsel notified VDLF of the ICE audit and asked for help getting the proper documentation of their employees in order. The news left Christine Neumann-Ortiz scrambling -- not to help employees with documentation -- but to collect signatures for a union petition.
On May 29 (two days later), Neumann-Ortiz filed a petition to unionize with the NLRB. Maria Monreal-Cameron, president of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, told El Conquistador that she was approached by undocumented workers and was specifically told they would keep their jobs if a Palermo’s union were formed....
In an email to El Conquistador Newspaper, ICE said that their policy is intended to prevent parties from using ICE to interfere with ongoing labor disputes “without regard to whether a workforce is or is not unionized.” In other words, the Memorandum of Understanding between Homeland Security and the Department of Labor prevents companies from using ICE as a tool to thwart union organizing, but does little to prevent groups like Voces de la Frontera from filing Unfair Labor Practice charges to thwart an ICE investigation.
As another newspaper, the Spanish Journal noted:
Neumann-Ortiz filed the NLRB charges against Palermo's, manipulating the facts into a tangled web of half-truths and trumped-up fabrications designed to advance her political agenda, at the expense of the Palermo's company and workers....
The truth is undocumented workers were fired BEFORE union organizing started at Palermo's. Voces needed to manufacture a crisis, so they created the bogus lie that workers were fired because they wanted a union. Workers were fired because they cannot legally work in the United States and Voces has done nothing to help them get work visas.
Rodriguez also solicited a comment from Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele, who is virtually alone among local politicians in supporting the company. Abele's statement minces no words:
“I'm obviously very happy for the Falluca family and Palermo's getting the vindication they deserve. What is disappointing is that so much of the information that supports the Palermo's case has been available from the start and yet that didn't seem to matter too much to the people and organization leading the charge against them. Why? Because they were apparently more interested in appearing to champion a righteous cause than getting their facts right. If we want to build the kind of world class business climate and create the jobs I know we can here in the County, all of us in public office have to be passionate about getting there.”
Below is the full statement from Palermos:
Chris Dresselhuys, marketing director for Palermo’s, today issued the following statement regarding the NLRB’s ruling that vindicates the company on alleged labor law violations:
“Today’s announcement by the National Labor Relations Board dismissing all of the significant claims filed by Voces de la Frontera is a major victory for our workers and our company. The decision completely vindicates Palermo’s and reinforces our well-deserved reputation for being a responsible employer and a committed corporate citizen. It also validates that Palermo’s fully complied with all applicable labor and immigration laws.
“Today’s ruling also clears the way for our employees to have a fair and legal NLRB administered election. We always have supported our employees having the opportunity to vote, and we are pleased they will finally be able to do so. While we disagree with the interpretation of the minor technicalities the NLRB noted in its decision, we accept and respect the ruling and want an election to move forward promptly. Now, the only threat to an election is Voces de la Frontera and their continued negative campaign to hurt Palermo’s and Milwaukee. Voces de la Frontera should get out of the way and let the workers decide.
“The NLRB ‘s ruling has also seriously damaged Voces de la Frontera’s credibility in the community as it shows that their efforts were designed to give a bum rap to Palermo’s, our employees and the City of Milwaukee.
“The relentless, inappropriate and deceptive campaign mounted by Voces de la Frontera has hurt the community, and now it is time for it to end. Their baseless claims have been given due process of law by the Federal government and have been roundly rejected, so it is time for Voces de la Frontera to stand down and allow our employees to vote.
“Palermo’s is pleased that the NLRB’s decision shows that the actions we took were appropriate and that the company respected the rights of the employees and obeys the laws of the United States.
“After being rejected by the NLRB so thoroughly, it is time for Voces de la Frontera to stand down and let the workers decide.”