The dining hall workers had been at Pomona College for years, some even decades. For a few, it was the only job they held since moving to United States.
Then late last year, administrators at the college delivered letters to dozens of the longtime employees asking them to show proof of legal residency, saying that an internal review had turned up problems in their files.
Seventeen workers could not produce documents showing that they were legally able to work in the United States. So on Dec. 2, they lost their jobs….
For the last two years, many of the dining hall workers had been organizing to form a union, but the efforts stalled amid negotiations with the administration. Many on campus believe that the administration began looking into the employees’ work authorization as a way to thwart the union effort, an accusation the college president, David Oxtoby, has repeatedly denied. But that has done little to quell questions and anger among the fired workers and many who support their efforts to unionize.