Claremont Port Side: Workers for Justice Boycotts Dining Halls

From Claremont Port Side: Link to original article

“We, the undersigned, pledge to honor Pomona College’s Dining Hall Service Staff decision to take economic action by standing in support of their decision. If this economic action takes the form of a boycott, I pledge to eat at a dining hall that is not under boycott. “

Frary Dining Hall nearly empty during the boycott (photo by Tim Reynolds PO ’15)

These are the words on the pledge sheet for students who support the Boycott of the Pomona Dining Hall services. Yesterday, Workers for Justice staged a boycott of all Pomona Dining halls, including Oldenbourg. Students who usually roll right out of bed and head to Frank or Frary trekked all the way to Scripps or Collins for breakfast.

The boycott was held in protest against Pomona College’s decision to fire all immigrant workers who do not have all the proper legal documentation ready by December 1. Certain people see this as an attack on the dining hall workers, who have been fighting for the rights to unionize for a while now.

An organizer of the boycott who prefers to remain anonymous, said this, regarding the reason why it was necessary to protest in such a manner: “Working is a right; everyone deserves to have a job. And finding out how these workers have had their jobs and livelihoods threatened just inspired me to want to help them.”

For the workers and their supporters, the boycott is a symbol of support, and a fight against discrimination and inequality.

Nevertheless, there have been negative responses to the protests. Yttrium Sua, a freshman at Pomona College said, “I support their motives, but I oppose their methods, which frankly are pushing me towards a general ambivalence and apathy towards this whole issue.”

Students living in dorms close to Frank and Frary complained about the noise levels. There were a few students who admitted that they felt intimidated by the presence of the protestors in front of the dining halls. One student said, “Walking up to the front door and seeing a bunch of people shouting and walking definitely makes you less eager to enter the dining hall. Even if it’s not their intention to do so, it just feels like it.”

But for people like Ustav Kothari, the boycott is to send a message to Pomona College that are some people who in the community who want “transparency and exchange of information” regarding the documentation matter. And on the subject of intimidation, he says: “No, we don’t intend to intimidate anyone. When I see you walking up here, I just come up to you and ask if you know about the boycott, and if you don’t, I explain, and it’s your choice. You can do whatever you want after that.”

What still remains a mystery is how this is affecting the decisions Pomona College. Have they received the “message” and will they respond?

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