Student led effort puts union-busting company on notice
On Sunday, November 18, the UW-Milwaukee Student Association Senate passed a resolution in solidarity with the Palermo Workers Union, and called upon UWM administration to halt sales of Palermo’s pizza on campus until the labor dispute is resolved.
“As students who care about what happens at our school, in our name, we are the conscience of UWM,” said Jorge Maya, a student leader of Youth Empowered in the Struggle (YES!), which pushed for adoption of the resolution. “By continuing to sell Palermo’s Pizza, the UWM administration is saying that they support union busting, and that’s wrong.”
UW-Milwaukee joins a growing list of student governments, as well as state and national student organizations that have endorsed the Palermo’s strike and boycott campaign.
The United Council of University of Wisconsin Students, a statewide organization representing student interests at nearly all 26 UW System campuses, along with two national student organizations, the United States Student Association, and United Students Against Sweatshops, have also endorsed the boycott and are actively engaged in organizing support.
The vote at UW-Milwaukee comes after months of student organizing on campus.
“This vote shows that the UWM Student Senate believes that continued sales of Palermo’s on campus is in fact a student issue,” said senator Tiffany Strong, the author of the legislation. “Students spoke out in support of the boycott, and my fellow senators and I heard their voices loud and clear. We don’t want our university associated with union busting.”
The action of the Student Association Senate continues a long tradition of support for workers rights at UWM. UW-Milwaukee’s administration and faculty senate endorsed the Global Sullivan Principles of Corporate Social Responsibility, which include respect for workers right to unionize, in 2001. UWM joined the Workers Rights Consortium, a group that monitors working conditions in factories that make products bearing university or college logos, in 2002.
UWM has also joined boycotts in the past. UWM stopped selling Tyson Foods products in 2003 during the strike and lockout of workers at a Tyson plant in Jefferson, WI, and stopped selling Coca-cola products just a few years ago as part of a boycott triggered by Coke’s connections to Columbian death squads.