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AFT supporting striking workers at Palermo's Pizza

The AFT's national officers have sent a letter of support to workers at Palermo's Pizza in Milwaukee, who have been on strike for nearly two months in a fight for safe working conditions and recognition of their union.

"We stand with all of you who have been subjected to threats, intimidation and retaliation, including the more than 75 workers who have lost their jobs—all within days of signing petitions to gain union representation," AFT president Randi Weingarten, secretary-treasurer Lorretta Johnson and executive vice president Francine Lawrence write.

Palermo's is one of the largest frozen pizza manufacturers in the country. The National Labor Relations Board is investigating the company's conduct, including charges that workers were fired for attempting to organize the union. Workers say Palermo's is continuing its intimidation campaign.

On Aug. 6, the AFL-CIO endorsed a boycott of Palermo's brand pizzas. In addition to Palermo's, the boycott includes "Classics" brand pizza and a private label produced by Palermo's, which includes Costco's Kirkland brand.

Palermo's prides its founding by immigrants, and today employs many immigrants. "Many of you have come to this country looking to realize your own dreams in this 'land of opportunity,' " the AFT letter says. "You seek only what American workers have always sought: decent pay, a safe workplace and a chance to give your children a better life."

The letter ends by praising the workers' courage, determination and unity. "We urge Palermo's to respect your human and democratic right for union representation, and we call for the reinstatement of all workers."

The strike has drawn widespread support from labor groups, including the AFL-CIO and AFT affiliates in Wisconsin, as well as from others in the local community.

You can support Palermo's workers by signing a petition of support, which will be sent to the company's CEO, or assisting the workers through donations or calls of support. Find updates on the strike online. [Dan Gursky, AFL-CIO Now]

August 8, 2012