UWM continues to sell Palermo's pizza on campus after protest

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- UW-Milwaukee officials on Thursday, May 9th released a statement as to the status of Palermo's Pizza sales on campus. This, after a student protest on Tuesday, May 7th -- when demonstrators joined arms behind the counter of the Palermo's Pizza stand in the Student Union and refused to leave.

Following that protest, UWM Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Jim Hill made a verbal and written promise to shut down the Palermo's Pizza stand through the end of summer -- according to a statement released by UWM, and a picture sent in by a FOX6 viewer showing Hill's written statement.

Now, UWM officials are saying the school continues to offer Palermo's Pizza products for sale on campus.

UWM officials said in a statement released Thursday: "What has changed in the past two days is the availability of the pizza in the Student Union food court where a long planned renovation project got underway this week."

UWM officials say the school did not intend on closing the pizza stand on Tuesday -- "but because of the presence of protesters in the kitchen preparation area, it was determined that the food in the stand would need to be discarded because it had potentially been contaminated.  As a result, UWM administrators and police announced the stand was being closed."

Because the pizza stand had been scheduled to close for the summer at the end of business on May 8th due to the renovation project, UWM administrators made the decision not to open the stand for one additional day -- and closed it on Tuesday.

In a statement, UWM officials said: "It is anticipated that the pizza stand, and two other restaurants that have also been closed for renovation and expansion, will reopen later this summer.  The pizza menu will continue to offer consumers a choice between Palermo's and another competing pizza product.

It is important to note that throughout the controversy surrounding the sale of Palermo's products, the UW-Milwaukee Administration has maintained a neutral stance concerning the ongoing labor dispute between the company and workers.

During the summer months, Palermo Pizza products will continue to be available for sale in the Student Union's "Union Station" store, and in the "Emporium" store located in the Sandburg Towers Residence Hall."

Background on Palermo's dispute with Voces de la Frontera: 

The National Labor Relations Board denied an appeal filed by Voces de la Frontera — an immigrant rights group representing some fired Palermo’s Pizza workers. However, those with Voces de la Frontera say the group is not done fighting.

Organizers for Voces de la Frontera say they accept the NLRB’s decision and don’t plan to appeal it further. However, they say the company still needs to keep its word.

Christine Neumann-Ortiz says her organization, Voces de la Frontera will continue to hold Palermo’s feet to the fire. She says Palermo’s fired about 100 workers when the company learned of their plans to form a union.

The company argued the firings were due to immigration laws — and workers who could not prove they were in this country legally, and legally able to work.

The NLRB has upheld a decision that mostly favored Palermo’s, but also ruled that 11 workers that were illegally fired by Palermo’s should be hired back.

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