The Student Labor Action Coalition delivered a letter to the University of Wisconsin Chancellor’s office on Monday, demanding the university cut ties with Palermo’s Villa, Inc. due to the company’s alleged mistreatment of workers.
In an email to The Badger Herald, SLAC member Cornell Zbikowski said Palermo’s products are sold at Camp Randall and the Kohl Center for essentially all UW sporting events.
Zbikowski said last year several workers approached Palermo’s management to address health and safety issues within the company.
Zbikowski said Palermo’s is currently under investigation by the National Labor Relations Board for unfair labor practices, which include the threatening and firing of several workers for trying to form a union.
He said workers have been on strike since June 1.
“As long as we have a relationship with Palermo’s Pizza, the university’s image will reflect the unfair labor practices and poor working conditions,” Zbikowski said. “SLAC simply will not stand for this and we hope that the Chancellor and other UW students will share our outrage.”
Zbikowski said a letter was delivered to the Director of Community Relations at UW, Everett Mitchell.
He said the letter addressed the concerns the organization has with UW’s involvement with Palermo’s for various reasons.
“We do not want any association with poor working conditions, as the university’s image reflects unfair labor practices,” Zbikowski said.
Zbikowski said ultimately SLAC hopes their actions will start a campaign against Palermo’s Pizza and inspire the university to cut all ties with the company. Zbikowski said it is important to “get the Badger name” off of the pizza in order to prevent UW’s image reflecting poor treatment of workers.
The prevalence of other pizza companies willing to sell their products at UW should make it easier to dissolve relations between Palermo’s and the university, Zbikowski said.
Vice Chancellor of UW Relations Vince Sweeney said the issue is a complicated one.
“This is a very complicated, difficult issue. We hope that the parties involved can come to a resolution in the near future.”
Sweeney also said he had not heard anything about the letter and he is not able to speak on behalf of the chancellor. He said he is not able to assess the university’s reaction to the issue at this time.