University of Wisconsin Interim Chancellor David Ward issued a statement regarding the ongoing labor disagreement over the university’s ties with Palermo’s Pizza, saying UW does not currently have any plans to take action.
The National Labor Relations Board is presently investigating Palermo’s Pizza for allegations of violating labor laws and the dismissal of workers following its attempts of union organizing in 2008.
Evidence from this investigation shows Palermo’s has refused to acknowledge workers’ attempts to organize regarding safety concerns, overtime hours and wages, UW Labor Licensing Policy Committee Chair Lydia Zepeda said in an email to The Badger Herald.
Ward said in the UW statement that he received a letter from LLPC early yesterday.
“In the letter, the chair of the LLPC, on behalf of the committee, recommends that I put Palermo’s on notice unless it meets demands articulated by the LLPC. I will review the committee’s request and respond accordingly to them,” Ward said in the statement. “In the meantime, we have no plans to take any action.”
Lingran Kong, Student Labor Action Coalition and LLPC member, said this was a time-sensitive and urgent issue they brought to attention at the beginning of the school year. She said she was disappointed Ward listed no concrete future steps.
Kong said it does not make sense for UW to be affiliated with a company that has clearly broken a contract. She said she would still expect and hope to see some kind of action from UW.
“They’re clearly giving UW-Madison a bad name right now,” Kong said. “We have to act.”
She said this is a workers’ rights issue and a problem of human rights and added Palermo’s is clearly not respecting the contract it agreed to. She said she thinks the university has the complete right and power to terminate its contract with Palermo’s.
“We believe that people shouldn’t be getting their fingers cut off,” Kong said, “Its pretty simple.”
In the statement, Ward said UW has “direct and indirect contractual relationships with Palermo’s.” He said UW is not a party to the dispute and cited three contractual relationships the university shares with the company.
He said the UW Athletic Department holds that UW will uphold radio and sign advertisement and will sell Palermo’s pizza at Camp Randall and the Kohl Center, that UW will sell Palermo’s pizza at Union South and that Roundy’s, by a license permit, may put the Bucky Badger logo on pizza sold at Madison-area grocery stores.
Kong said Palermo’s signed a code of conduct that asked it to adopt the university’s standards, of which she said Palermo’s is expected to follow. She said the document they sent to the chancellor clearly pointed out four instances in which Palermo’s has directly violated the contract.
Ward said he would encourage those concerned to maintain their efforts toward a solution.
“As an institution, we have been monitoring the situation,” Ward said in the statement, “With particular attention focused on any information that may be made available by the National Labor Relations Board and other similar sources.”