Statement of Interim Chancellor David Ward on Palermo’s Pizza

April 29, 2013

Interim Chancellor David Ward released the following statement on Monday, April 29 to respond to student requests that he cut ties with Palermo's Pizza.

"I would like to provide you with an update on the current status of Palermo’s Pizza, a company that has a sponsorship agreement with UW Athletics and the Wisconsin Union, and is a supplier of Roundy’s, a UW-Madison licensee.

Earlier today, a dozen students occupied the reception area of my office to urge that we cut ties with Palermo’s.

The university has been deeply engaged on this issue, as it has in other situations that involve our licensees and the issues of workers’ rights.

As you may be aware, in November 2012, the chairperson of the UW-Madison Labor Codes Licensing Compliance Committee (LCLCC) delivered a letter to me recommending on behalf of the committee that I take action in response to allegations made against Palermo’s. 

At the time, the Milwaukee Office of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) was investigating a complaint lodged against Palermo’s in a dispute with former workers.  On November 29, 2012, NLRB Regional Director Irving Gottschalk issued a decision that found the majority of the alleged labor law violations against Palermo’s lacked merit.

The NLRB findings were appealed by representatives of the workers. Earlier today the appeal was denied based on insufficient evidence

Throughout this process, we stated that we would weigh findings by the NLRB as we considered additional action.

We have discussed this issue repeatedly with students, faculty, staff, campus governance and the LCLCC. We have also communicated with Roundy’s, and asked it to take notice of the situation and help play a role in a possible settlement.

We are encouraging Palermo’s, the workers and the NLRB to reach an agreement on rehiring the remaining workers who are not covered by today’s appeal decision.

While we acknowledge the viewpoints represented by UW-Madison students and the Workers’ Rights Consortium, we believe that cutting ties with Palermo’s at this time is not warranted based on the facts.

We will continue to monitor events related to the dispute between Palermo’s and the workers and will evaluate any new information as it is made available."