UW-Madison group urges chancellor to terminate contract with Palermo's

MADISON – On Wednesday November 14th, a UW-Madison advisory group urged chancellor David Ward to terminate a licensing contract within 30 days if labor code violations at Palermo’s Pizza are not remedied. 

The group also recommended immediate termination of a sponsorship contract with Palermo’s if the National Labor Relations Board finds the company wrongfully fired union supporters.

The Labor Licensing Policy Committee (LLPC) is a shared governance body of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, made up of students, faculty and staff. The LLPC is charged with upholding the UW’s Labor Code of Conduct, and advising the chancellor on matters relating to violations of the Code.

Palermos’ engaged in “multiple and substantial” violations of the Labor Code, according to the LLPC’s letter to Ward. UW’s Labor Code of Conduct requires all businesses that make products bearing the university’s branding or logo to respect workers’ right to unionize, to “provide a healthy and safe work environment,” and to “treat employees with dignity,” among other common labor code standards.

“Companies like Palermo's do not reflect the values of our university and it is important that we enforce the terms of our contract,” said Lingran Kong, a student and member of the LLPC. “We hope that the chancellor will act on the committee's recommendation, as this issue is extremely urgent.”

UW-Madison students have demanded for months that the university revoke Palermo’s right to put the Bucky Badger brand on frozen pizzas it manufactures, halt sales of Palermo’s by the slice in campus sports venues, and terminate a sponsorship agreement valued at $600,000, which allows Palermo’s to market its products as an “Proud sponsor of Badger Athletics,” and receive other benefits, including season tickets to Badger football, Badger men’s basketball, and Badger men’s hockey.

Repeated attempts by members of a campus coalition to meet with the chancellor were rebuffed. 

On Wednesday, the UW chancellor released a public statement detailing the university’s business ties to Palermo’s.