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Palermo’s deals with union complaints

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Palermo’s Pizza, Marquette’s main pizza vendor, faces new allegations from employees, this time accusing the management of disrupting union organization efforts.

The labor dispute comes six months after the National Labor Relations Board ruled Palermo’s did not violate labor laws when it fired 75 workers as part of an immigration audit in April. The NLRB, though, found Palermo’s unlawfully fired nine workers for engaging in or supporting unionizations. In a recent settlement, seven workers received back pay and four of the seven were re-hired.

Voces de la Frontera, the organizational arm of Palermo’s employees, filed the new allegations with the NLRB Thursday, the group announced in a news release.

“Since or around Oct. 18, the employer has interfered with, restrained, and coerced employees in the exercise of rights guaranteed by the (National Labor Relations Act), and retaliated and discriminated employees for exercising rights guaranteed by the NLRA by a) prohibiting employees from communicating with other employees about unions and unionization while at work: and b) subjecting pro-union employees to pretextual disciplinary warnings,” the news release read.

In April, the NLRB also ruled Palermo’s workers were allowed to vote on forming a union. The new complaint, if found valid, may delay the upcoming union vote because it would require a new investigation by the NLRB.

Palermo’s responded to the new allegations in a press release, calling them a barrier to the union vote.

“We are disappointed in what is obviously a delay tactic that robs our employees of the chance to let their voices be heard,” the news release read. “Now, the group has filed yet another claim with the National Labor Relation Board, and it clearly is an attempt to stifle our workers.”

The news release went on to say that Palermo’s welcomes a union vote.

“The real impact of this outrageous conduct is that it will prevent our workers from having a chance to vote on whether or not they want to form a union.”

Palermo’s labor disputes became particularly relevant on campus in March when the Marquette chapter of Youth Empowered in the Struggle organized a protest outside the BMO Harris-Bradley Center before a men’s basketball game.

YES has since stepped away from the Palermo’s issue and refocused its efforts on comprehensive immigration reform.

At the time, the rally was intended to draw attention to the labor issue and engage in dialogue with administration about ending Marquette’s contact with Palermo’s. Last spring, Marquette Student Government also hosted an open forum with administrators and representatives from Palermo’s to discuss the issue.

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