By Collin Roth
For months on end, Democrat Rep. Jocasta Zamarippa was the elected official most outspoken in support of striking Palermo’s workers, joining with the radical immigrants rights group Voces de la Frontera to attack the company.
But after the months of striking and a public relations battle between Voces and Palermo’s, the National Labor Relations Board issued a decision last week that dismissed the Voces claim that Palermo’s invited an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) audit that resulted in the termination of 75 undocumented workers as retaliation for union organizing among workers.
The NLRB’s decision is profound because it dismisses the very crux of Voces campaign against Palermo’s. If Palermo’s is not at fault for the ICE audit and the termination of undocumented workers, the strike, picket lines, boycotts, and media attacks aimed at Palermo’s have all been based on lies. Which is why Rep. Zamarripa’s position becomes so interesting.
This is not Voces’ first crack at intimidation, boycotts, and attacking business. And Voces will continue to stir up trouble, advocating a radical pro-labor union ideology in the name of immigrants rights. But Rep. Zamarippa must answer to her constituents and to the business community in her district. And on Monday, Rep. Zamarripa issued a statement saying that she stood with Palermo’s workers but would “withhold further comment” until she could read the NLRB decision.
But why would Rep. Zamarripa “withhold further comment” now when just a month ago she was so willing to issue lengthy statements that lambasted Palermo’s and parroted Voces talking points?
In a statement issued in October 2012, Rep. Zamarripa used capital letters and bold font to “respond to misinformation.” But in light of the NLRB decision, it was Rep. Zamarripa who was peddling misinformation by claiming that Palermo’s would be known across the country as a business that “exploits their workers” and claiming undocumented workers were fired under “bogus anti-immigrant pretenses.” But as Aaron Rodriguez points out, all of the union organizing at Palermo’s came after Voces was notified of the impending ICE audit, dismantling the argument that the audit was in response to the ICE audit.
The NLRB did find fault with Palermo’s for terminating nine employees for supporting the strike and union activity. But overall, the NLRB decision vindicates Palermo’s and leaves Voces and Rep. Zamarripa with egg on their face. Rep. Zamarripa joined with the radicals at Voces and attempted to hurt and destroy a family-owned business in Milwaukee based on trumped up charges without evidence. It would seem that businesses and those interested in strengthening the economy in her district would not soon forget her actions.