Members of the Palermo Workers Union welcomed a decision this week by the UW-Milwaukee administration to halt campus sales of Palermo’s Pizza through the summer of 2013. The multi-organization Boycott Coalition for Workers Rights declared a major victory after occupying and shutting down the Palermo’s Pizza window at the UWM food court for nearly 2 hours, and winning a major concession from UWM administration.
“Students at UW-Milwaukee have been asking UWM administration to join the national boycott of Palermo’s Pizza for almost a year,” said Raul de la Torre. “We applaud UWM for making the right moral decision and upholding UWM values.”
A group of five students occupied the inside of the Palermo’s Pizza stand at UWM on Tuesday at about 11:30 AM while a large group of 40-50 chanted slogans such as “No justice, no pizza!” and “mic-checked” the crowd. Student occupiers ultimately left the Palermo’s stand at approximately 1:15 PM, after a UWM administration official declared the stand would be shut down.
“It has been a long struggle but a worthwhile effort to ensure that our immigrant brothers and sisters are treated with the dignity and respect that they deserve,” said Valeria Gonzales, a member of Youth Empowered in the Struggle. “It’s about time the university listened to the students’ voices.”
Until today the UWM administration’s response to student demands was to literally paper over the Palermo’s branding painted around the Palermo’s Pizza window, drop the price of Palermo’s so that it equaled another pizza brand option, and to sell the two brands side-byside with no visible branding. This made it nearly impossible for consumers to determine which brand they were choosing.
Beginning in the summer of 2012, and throughout the course of the 2012-13 academic year, students waged a campaign for UWM to join the national boycott of Palermo’s. The UWM Student Senate and Faculty Senate both passed resolutions in support of the boycott in 2012.
In a statement UWM Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Jim Hill declared at about 1:15PM that the Palermo’s Pizza stand would be shut down for the remainder of the Spring ‘13 semester and the entire Summer ‘13 semester. At the insistence of students, Hill also made the declaration in writing on the back of his business card.