Students joined striking workers from Palermo's Pizza in a candlelight vigil at Chancellor David Ward's mansion on Wednesday evening to reflect on Ward's failure to show moral leadership on the issue and to deliver a new report finding Palermo's guilty of violating the school's code of conduct for licensed goods manufacturers. Jesus Gaona, who had worked at the factory for nearly ten years attempted to deliver this report along with a letter from the workers to Chancellor Ward.
On June 1st, the company fired 89 workers for attempting to form a union, in response to unsafe and abusive working conditions. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has also found the company guilty of union-busting and worker intimidation. SLAC at UW-Madison has been campaigning since last year to get the University to cut its licensing and sponsorship agreement with Palermo's, which allow the company to brand itself "The Official Pizza of Bucky Badger."
"We were told that the Chancellor was 'engaged,' and could not find even three minutes to meet with the strikers who had traveled an hour and a half from Milwaukee to deliver their letter. It really shows that his priorities does not lie with students and workers," says Claire Hintz, UW Madison Freshman and SLAC member.
A representative from the Interfaith Coalition for Worker Justice, Jeremy Levinger, cited passages from the Koran, the Torah, and the New Testament that endorsed worker justice. He called upon all faiths to unite in supporting the Palermo's workers' struggle for rights in the workplace.
"Despite the overwhelming student and community support to cut Palermo's, it's unsettling that Chancellor Ward still refuses to act. We gather here today, immensely saddened that the university has abandoned its own code of conduct and the values that it represents," says Lingran Kong, UW Madison student and SLAC member.
SLAC first brought the issue to Ward in a letter last year. Since then, workers on strike came to campus and shared their story and struggle with the community, and a coalition was formed among students. After months of inaction from Ward, students gathered last December at the Chancellor's mansion and sang worker's rights carols. SLAC intends to continue to pressure Ward until he cuts the contract with Palermo's.
Santa Claus Is Coming to Town You better watch out You better cut now Better not wait I'm telling you why Santa Claus is coming to town He's making a list, And checking it twice; Gonna find out who's breaking contracts. Santa Claus is coming to town Adidas has not paid up Their workers are oppressed LLPC said on notice So be good and tell them so! O! You better watch out! You better cut now Better not wait, I'm telling you why. Santa Claus is coming to town. Santa Claus is coming to town. --- Jingle Bells Workers are oppressed In an Adidas sweatshop, They didn't pay severance, Laughing all the way; They signed a contract with, our university, They broke that contract so we can Put them on notice now Workers' rights, workers' rights, Workers all the way! O what fun it is to hold Adidas to their word, hey Workers' rights, workers' rights, Workers all the way! O what fun it is to fight For justice now for all, hey A day or two ago, LLPC concurred, Said put them on notice Hold them accountable; Thus we ask of you; Do what we have just said; Put them on notice and then we fight until we win. Workers' rights, workers' rights Workers all the way! O what fun it is to hold In a one-horse open sleigh. Workers' rights, workers' rights Workers all the way! O what fun it is to fight For justice now for all, hey --- Jingle Bell Rock Workers' rights, workers' rights, workers' rights rock Workers' rights fight and workers' rights win Justice and redress by paying back pay Now the workers' fight has begun Workers' rights, workers' rights, workers' rights rock Workers' rights first and workers' rights now Cutting the contract with Adidas if they don't pay severance What a good time, it's the right time To fight for labor rights Equity time is a swell time To hold corporations accountable Giddy-up chancellor, pick up your feet Justice around the clock Put Adidas on notice That's for equity, That's for workers' rights, That's for student power. --- Frosty the Snowman Workers in sweatshops weren't paid their severance pay, Working for Adidas every day And a boss who ran away. We have a contract that protected workers' rights, It says workers must be paid in full and Adidas signed it too The WRC investigated and proved the abuse Then LLPC did concur Put Adidas on notice The shared gov committee Was created to advise, The advice they have is to tell Adidas they had to pay or else Adidas, the owners knows Nike did the same, We won that and we'll win this too To ensure justice for all Dear Chancellor Ward, With the power in your hands, Listen to your committee and students saying, Adidas on notice now.
Palermo's Pizza campaign main page
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