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Labor's Edge: Views from the California Labor Movement

Pomona College—Anti-Immigrant?

by Christian Torres

I have worked as a cook in the dining hall at Pomona College for the past 7 years. These 7 years were the best of my career—I truly enjoyed cooking food for the students. I was proud to work there, not just because I was a Pomona staff member, but because I worked for the students and all the Claremont community. 

In early 2010, my coworkers and I started organizing to form a union so that we could have a voice on the job. We knew there would be risks involved in organizing, but we thought, Pomona is a liberal arts college and they say they care about us, so why would they fight us? But Pomona opposed our requests for a fair process to form a union from the beginning and it has been almost 2 years with no resolution.

In early November of 2011, I and 83 other Pomona employees, faculty and students received letters from the college informing us of “deficiencies” in our documents authorizing us to work in the United States. The college gave us a mere three weeks to remedy our documents, or we would face termination. On December 2, 2011, Pomona College fired 17 of us when we couldn’t meet their deadline. This was not an ICE raid. A federal agency did not prompt this investigation. Pomona College conducted the investigation and fired us, even though we believe they could have followed another path.

From the time we received the first letters to the day we were all fired, the Pomona students and faculty rallied behind us to show their support. Our struggle for justice at Pomona was also featured in the New York Times this week. Check out coverage here.

Now, my coworkers and the Pomona community are speaking out in a video (see below). Please share this video with your friends on Facebook and Twitter! By spreading this video throughout the country, we'll put Pomona College's despicable behavior in the national spotlight, and persuade the College to rethink the disrespectful way it treats workers.

Posted on 02/08/2012Permalink

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