At 2:15pm today, 12 students entered Chancellor Ward’s office to protest his refusal to uphold UW-Madison’s code of conduct for companies that produce goods using UW logos. The students are demanding that the university cut ties with Milwaukee-based frozen pizza manufacturer Palermo Villa Inc over the company’s labor practices.

The sit in comes after a 200-day campaign by a coalition of students, workers, and concerned Wisconsinites. The Labor Licensing Policy Committee, the campus shared governance body designated to make recommendations on these issues, determined in November that Palermo’s was in violation of the university’s code of conduct, and recommended cutting ties with the company.

“We’re occupying the office until Chancellor Ward agrees to cut ties with Palermo’s,” said Claire Hintz, one of the students occupying the office. “It’s outrageous that the Chancellor still refuses to enforce our code of conduct by cutting ties with this irresponsible company.”

In January, the Dane County Board of Supervisors joined the chorus of groups calling for a contract cut, passing a resolution of support. Then in February, the Worker Rights Consortium, an independent worker rights monitoring organization the university is affiliated with, reported that “Palermo has committed serious violations of worker rights and that these violations remain ongoing,” and therefore was in violation of the university’s code of conduct and international labor rights standards.

“Chancellor Ward has abandoned the Palermo’s workers and callously ignored the moral standards that UW claims to uphold,” said Cornell Zbikowski, another of the occupying students. “The Palermo’s workers have been on strike for 11 months as David Ward hides and counts the days until retirement. I’m ashamed to call David Ward my Chancellor.”

At 4:30pm, supporters will rally outside of Bascom Hall. At 6:00pm, the Solidarity Singers will lead the crowd in song.

UWMad@Palermo’s is a coalition of student groups dedicated to ending UW-Madison’s contract with Palermo’s Pizza, including the Student Labor Action Coalition, Working Class Student Union, United Council, ISO, and TAA.

Give ’em some love! Call the Chancellor’s office to express your support: 608–262–9946

Follow the strike on Twitter: @PalermosStrike

Via Press Release
Photo from Facebook Page