This afternoon on César Chávez day, Pomona College (Calif.) students, workers and union and community activists are taking to the streets in a unique Dining Hall in the Streets action. The event will support the 16 immigrant workers the college fired in December from their long-held dining hall jobs as they were trying to form a union with UNITE HERE Local 11. Following a march from a local park to the college campus, supporters will serve up a barbeque.
Workers and their supporters will call on Pomona College to sign a neutrality pledge to allow Pomona dining workers to decide among themselves whether they want a union, in an atmosphere free from threats and intimidation. Maria Elena Durazo, executive secretary-treasurer of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor says:
Pomona College trustees and administrators turned this peaceful liberal arts campus into a battleground like Arizona or Alabama. Now the administration must take steps to repair the damage they caused and restore peace.
Some of the immigrant workers had been working at the college for more than 20 years before they were fired. The school says it was for not having proper work documents. The demand for documentation was not brought on by a federal agency. Instead, Pomona launched the internal audit itself, even though the school said the workers had been properly verified at the time of hiring.
In this video from JuticeatPomona.org, Dr. Peter Dreier, an Occidental College professor, says Pomona College has “joined in the wave of anti-immigrant hysteria.”