Despite some media reports that suggest otherwise, UW-Milwaukee continues to offer Palermo’s Pizza products for sale on its campus. What has changed in the past two days is the availability of the pizza in the Student Union food court where a long planned renovation project got underway this week.
At midday on Tuesday, May 7, when large numbers of students, faculty and staff were in the Student Union, a demonstration was staged by community members and students near the pizza stand where Palermo’s products were sold. At one point, five demonstrators joined arms behind the counter at the pizza stand and refused to leave. They were supported by 30 to 40 other individuals.
UWM did not intend to close the pizza stand that day, but because of the presence of protesters in the kitchen preparation area, it was determined that the food in the stand would need to be discarded because it had potentially been contaminated. As a result, UWM administrators and police announced the stand was being closed. Demonstrators were told they would have to leave or face arrest and, for UWM students, non-academic disciplinary sanctions. Shortly after the stand was closed, the demonstrators dispersed. The primary goal of UWM Police was to prevent violence and restore normal operations as quickly as possible to ensure the safety of people in the vicinity.
Because the pizza stand had already been scheduled to close for the summer at the end of business on May 8 due to a major Union renovation project – and because the kitchen area would have to undergo a thorough cleaning prior to reopening – UWM Administrators made the decision not to reopen for just one more day.
It is anticipated that the pizza stand, and two other restaurants that have also been closed for renovation and expansion, will reopen later this summer. The pizza menu will continue to offer consumers a choice between Palermo’s and another competing pizza product.
It is important to note that throughout the controversy surrounding the sale of Palermo’s products, the UW-Milwaukee Administration has maintained a neutral stance concerning the ongoing labor dispute between the company and workers.
During the summer months, Palermo Pizza products will continue to be available for sale in the Student Union’s “Union Station” store, and in the “Emporium” store located in the Sandburg Towers Residence Hall.