In the midst of the controversy surrounding the Palermo’s Pizza workers’ strike, the University of Wisconsin-Madison Teaching Assistants’ Association and the Student Labor Action Coalition released a joint resolution calling for the university to cut all ties with Palermo’s.
The issue began when workers at Palermo’s were fired from a Milwaukee factory after attempting to unionize. Workers also condemned poor working conditions and Palermo’s lack of effort to correct them.
The university currently has a $200,000 sponsorship agreement with Palermo’s, as well as an indirect licensing agreement through Roundy’s Supermarkets, Inc., according to Co-President of the TAA Charity Schmidt. She also said some of the pizzas are marketed with pictures of Bucky Badger on them.
SLAC member Lingran Kong said the purpose of the resolution is to pressure the university to sever all ties with the pizza company until it meets the workers’ demands.
The resolution states, “allies are demanding that businesses and universities remove Palermo’s products and cut contracts until Palermo’s recognizes the Palermo’s Workers Union, rehires striking workers, and negotiates a fair contract.”
Schmidt said she hopes the resolution will push UW-Madison administration to review the university’s contract with Palermo’s and cut ties with the pizza company until it fulfills its commitment to its workers.
“This is a great public university and it has a responsibility to workers in Wisconsin to recognize and uphold workers rights,” Schmidt said.
Kong also said UW-Madison’s association with Palermo’s during the workers’ strike could threaten the university’s reputation by doing business with companies that treat their workers unfairly.
UW-Madison administration is aware of the current dispute between the pizza company and its workers and will continue to monitor the situation, Vice Chancellor for University Relations Vince Sweeney said in an email.
“It appears to be a difficult and complicated issue and we are hopeful that the parties can reach a resolution in the immediate future,” Sweeney said.