Janesville54.2°

Pizza joint owner asks union to help end dispute

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JAMES P. LEUTE
October 11, 2007
— It’s a classic case of he said, she said.

He, a member of United Auto Workers Local 95, said a southside pizza joint was clear in its position not to support the UAW in its recent strike at the General Motors assembly plant in Janesville.


She, an employee at the pizza place, said she was in no position to authorize the donation of pizzas to the picket lines when the UAW went on strike Sept. 24.


Prime Time Pizza, which caters to workers at the nearby GM plant, is now the target of what manager Joe Falzone says are devastating rumors.


A large slice of Prime Time’s business is deliveries to the plant, and that’s been eaten away as rumors circulated that the business at 1907 Center Ave. wouldn’t support the striking members of UAW Local 95 with free food.


“On the first day of the strike, a guy came in, ordered a calzone and suggested we should send some pizzas down to GM,” Falzone said. “He said Pizza Hut and others were donating and delivering food and water to the picket lines and it would be a good thing for us to do the same.”


But Falzone wasn’t on duty. The female employee was. She was not authorized to make that decision.


Apparently, that didn’t satisfy the man, who returned to the picket lines with word that Prime Time didn’t support the striking workers and so didn’t need the workers’ business, Falzone said. From what Falzone has heard, the man’s message to the strikers was not nearly that subtle.


“Why would she say something like that?” Falzone said about his female employee. “During the day, 80 percent of her deliveries are to GM. Those are the people that pay her and feed her family. She would never say what she’s accused of saying.


“It just wouldn’t happen.”


Falzone links the man’s actions to a cell phone call he took earlier that day during the strike’s early stages. A woman wanted to know if Prime Time delivered to the street.


“She didn’t say she was outside GM; she didn’t say she was a striking worker,” Falzone said. “I didn’t know the situation, and when you get a cell call from the street, that’s an easy set-up for a robbery.”


The woman called back later, upset that Prime Time wouldn’t deliver to GM. With more information, Falzone said he’d be happy to donate some pizzas. He just needed to know what kind and where to deliver them.


“She never called back,” he said.


Prime Time needs the business from GM workers, Falzone said.


On a typical day, Prime Time might deliver 40 orders to the plant. Most deliveries arrive at the noon, 7 and 10 p.m. breaks.


Business jumps on Thursdays, the last day of the normal workweek, when orders can add several hundred dollars to the business’ cash register.


Two Thursdays ago, the first full day of work for the returning workers, Prime Time sold next to nothing at the plant, Falzone said. In fact, the business got stuck with $90 worth of pizzas ordered by a “Rick” and a “Randy” who never materialized to pick up their orders.


Ever since, orders have been virtually nonexistent, Falzone said.


“I know there’s pressure down there on people not to order from Prime Time,” he said, adding that some off those workers still call in their orders away from the plant.


Prime Time has asked Local 95 leaders for help. Falzone said he’s been told something about the Prime Time situation would appear in the union newsletter.


Union officials say they know the identity of the man who spread the message about Prime Time, but they wouldn’t reveal his name to The Janesville Gazette.


Pam Good, Local 95’s financial secretary, said the union is caught in the middle.


“I feel terrible for the business, but I don’t know what (Local 95) can do,” Good said.



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