UW-Madison students visited the office of Chancellor David Ward Monday to ask the university to stop the sale of Palermo’s pizza – the target of a national boycott by labor unions -- at Camp Randall and the Kohl Center.
The pizzas are sold with a Bucky logo and billed as “the official pizza of the Badgers,” students say in a letter delivered to Ward by members of the Student Labor Action Coalition.
The students also delivered two cheese pizzas with olives spelling out “No Justice, No Pizza,” a slogan of the strikers, student Rachel Gerry told me.
She was one of about 10 students who were denied entry to the chancellor’s office in Bascom Hall and waited outside until a staff member was sent out to receive the letter – and the pizzas.
Workers at the Milwaukee pizza factory have been on strike since June, charging unsafe working conditions and interference with their efforts to organize. The company has hired replacement workers.
In their letter to Ward, students say the company’s actions “show an utter disregard for the employees.” They also cite the university’s code of conduct for trademark licensees, to “engage in business practices that affect positive change in human working conditions domestically and abroad.”
Ward’s office could not yet offer a response to the students' request, Vice Chancellor for University Relations Vince Sweeney told me Monday.
UW students also have contacted Jeff Maurer, owner of Madison Fresh Market near campus, asking him to stop the sale of frozen pizzas from Palermo's, which uses the trademarked Bucky image and advertises itself as a sponsor of Badger sports.
Maurer told me Monday that while he will not stop carrying the products, he has stopped promoting the pizzas. “I just don’t have all the facts, from labor’s side to management’s side, and I don’t feel qualified to make the call," he said.
The striking Palermo’s workers, assisted by Voces de la Frontera, a Milwaukee-based immigrant rights group, have called for a national boycott that won the endorsement of the AFL-CIO. Labor activists also have asked Costco, a major retailer of Palermo’s products, to stop carrying them in keeping with its code of conduct for suppliers, so far to no effect.