For immediate release
November 16, 2011
With Union Organizing Effort Underway, Pomona College Demands Dining Hall Workers' Papers by Dec. 1 or face termination
CLAREMONT, CA–ICE has not conducted a raid, but Pomona College officials are demanding that some dining hall workers, along with some student employees and faculty, present documents authorizing them to work in the United States. And if they don’t produce the documents by Dec. 1, they face termination, college officials say.
In a press conference Wednesday, Nov. 16, workers, students, faculty and community members slammed Pomona’s hypocritical attack on immigrant workers.
The demand for documentation comes as dining hall workers continue efforts to organize a union on a campus.
"I feel humiliated," said Felipa Sanchez, a lead cook at the Pomona Dining Hall. "I have given 23 years of my life to cooking warm meals for the students on this campus. Why now is my job being threatened?"
Pomona College’s actions were not brought on by a federal agency. Instead, Pomona launched the internal audit itself. Pomona administrators said they properly verify documents at the time of hiring, but are now claiming many workers have "discrepancies" and want documents again.
"I have worked in a variety of restaurants and have experienced many managers who exploit immigrant workers. Pomona College is no different," said Cristian Torres, a dining hall cook of six years. "We are not afraid of Pomona. We will continue our fight to organize a union."
The unprovoked assault is an about face for the liberal college. College President David Oxtoby used his 2010 commencement speech to endorse the DREAM Act, noting, "this country benefits from the ideas, the skills, and the hard work of those who do or do not bear proper documents; we need to recognize that fact and move toward comprehensive immigration reform."
Dozens of students also joined the protest to condemn Pomona College’s actions.
"I am shocked and embarrassed by the administration’s hypocrisy," said Sam Pang, a Pomona College senior. "To suddenly demand documents from hard-working cooks and dishwashers who have given decades of service to this college is appalling."