Monthly Archives: February 2012

The Student Life: Religious Leaders Support Workers with Vigil

From The Student Life: Link to original article

By CARRIE WU

Students of the Claremont Colleges, past and present Pomona dining hall workers and members of the local community gathered Feb. 22 for a vigil to support the 17 Pomona employees fired in December and to show solidarity for the unionization efforts ahead.

The vigil was scheduled to coincide with Ash Wednesday. It began with a welcome by Reverend Karen Sapio from the local Claremont Presbyterian Church, followed by Bible readings from several Pomona students, Reverend Dr. David Cortes-Fuentes from the Emmanuel Hispanic Presbyterian Church in Claremont and Father Peter O’Reilly from the Our Lady of the Assumption Roman Catholic Church in Claremont.

The event ended with a ceremony to mark participants’ foreheads with ashes, which served as, “a pledge to work together despite difficulties, sometimes failure,” O’Reilly said. Participants also recited quotes from famous past labor organizers such as César Chávez. Continue reading

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The Student Life: Board of Trustees Must Release Internal Report

From The Student Life: Link to original article

We commend the time, thought and deliberate discussion that the Trustee-Student Task Force on Campus Community Communication spent developing its recommendations (to be voted on by the Student Affairs Committee today) to the Pomona College Board of Trustees to enhance dialogue between students and trustees. However, in order to live up to the stated purpose of the task force, the board must do more than the minimum that would be required in order to comply with the recommendations. Once the board has completed its internal review of the events that led to the firing of 17 Pomona employees last semester, it should publish the full text of the report produced by this investigation.

The task force has recommended that the board publish some version of the investigation’s findings—either the full report or a summary. We believe that publishing a summary of the report would not suffice. The board should publish the full report for three reasons. First, the publication would be an immediate and vital fulfillment of the stated charge to the task force: to promote “communication, responsiveness and understanding” between students and trustees. Continue reading

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The Huffington Post: Immigration Reform and Unionization; Dining Hall Workers Seek Justice For All Workers

From The Huffington Post: Link to original article

By FERNANDO ROMERO

No one would’ve thought that the immigration debate would make a stop in the cookie-cutter community of Claremont, California. But the recent firing of 16 kitchen staff workers at Pomona College has caught national attention and caused immigrant rights groups and community activist in the Inland Empire to erupt in anger.

In its effort to prevent the kitchen staff’s unionization, the Pomona College Board of Trustees and school administration continued its history of union-busting tactics, manifested into unmistakable anti-immigrant and xenophobic sentiments against the 16 dining hall workers who were fired last December. These acts committed by the trustees go against the very ideals the institution is supposed to uphold, and had done so since its founding in 1887. Taking center stage is the complex immigration issue. Continue reading

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KPCC: Students, faculty, former workers divided over firing of undocumented workers at Pomona

From KPCC: Link to original article

By RUXANDRA GUIDI

Two months after Pomona College fired 17 undocumented employees, students and kitchen workers are still demanding their old jobs back and hoping to start a union.

Pomona College President David Oxtoby has spent a lot of time defending the firings, but he has always insisted he was only following the law.

“The rules, the laws are pretty straightforward and strict,” he said, sitting in his campus office. “If you have any inadequacy, anything deficient in work authorization documents, you have to get that corrected. So that is what happened in the fall.”

It all started with complaints about lax hiring practices that reached Pomona College’s board of trustees. The school hired an outside firm, which found 17 workers – 16 of them in the kitchen – who were without legal documents.

Oxtoby admitted he was conflicted over the decision to terminate the employees.

“One thing that has been suggested is that we should simply as a college say, ‘this is an unjust law and we are not going to obey it’,” he said. “And we certainly did consider that possibility. That would be civil disobedience for a college. To me, however, that is something that an individual can make a decision on.” Continue reading

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Feldblum: Update from the Trustee-Student Task Force on Communication

Dear Students,

On behalf of the Trustee-Student Task Force on Campus Community Communications,  I am writing to give you an update on the work of the Task Force and open up a comment period for you to send in any feedback to the Task Force (please see below for a list of all Task Force members and the Charge of the Task Force).   All comments should be received by February 22, 2012

The Task Force has had 2 meetings, and is scheduled to have 2 more over this next week, February 19 and February 23.   Members have worked to collect information about Board communications, student-trustee interactions, and student representation on Boards from other campuses, and have explored a wide array of ideas. The two Co-Chairs of the Task Force are Jason Rosenthal, PO ‘92 and Lynn Yonekura PO ’70.  The Task Force anticipates presenting a set of recommendations to the Board of Trustees at the February Board of Trustees meeting.

The Task Force is currently exploring recommendations in four areas: Continue reading

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The Student Life: Flaws in Board of Trustees Call for Reforms

From The Student Life: Link to original article

By ALAN MITCHELL

Perhaps the most generous observation one might make about last semester’s documentation controversy is that it generated a great deal of conversation. From passionate TSL articles to Facebook diatribes to protest movements, I have never seen the entirety of the Pomona community as engaged as it was in the aftermath of the abrupt termination of 17 members of the Pomona College staff. Unfortunately, despite all of that engagement and conversation, I don’t think that our campus ever came to a consensus about the legal and ethical requirements of the situation—and I rather doubt that we will. The situation is still too unclear, the emotions too raw and the legal situation too vague for common ground to be reached easily (or maybe at all).

In light of the above analysis and the fact that the Board has already made its final decision on the matter, I recommend that we, the student body, set aside our ongoing disagreements about the particulars of the situation for the time being. I suggest we set it aside not to forget about it, but to focus on an underlying issue that the ugly events of last semester brought to the surface: the transparency, accountability and legitimacy of the Board of Trustees. Continue reading

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The Chronicle of Higher Education: Firing of Workers Who Failed to Provide Documents Divides Pomona College

From The Chronicle of Higher Education: Link to original article

By EMMA ROLLER

When Pomona College fired 17 employees in December because they could not prove they were in the United States legally, it created a divisive controversy on the campus at the same time that it raised a tricky question: How can a college best handle obeying a law that many students and faculty members disagree with?

Even David Oxtoby, Pomona’s president, has called the situation at the Claremont, Calif., institution ironic, given the college’s commitment to promoting Latino culture and diversity on campus. And while Mr. Oxtoby and members of Pomona’s Board of Trustees have said their hands were tied in the matter, some students and faculty members think the liberal-arts college, one of the wealthiest in the United States, could have handled the situation with more respect for the employees. Continue reading

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The Huffington Post: Pomona Firings Show the Paradox of Immigrant Labor Organizing

From The Huffington Post: Link to original article

By NATHAN ROBINSON

As the New York Times tells it, the firing of 16 Pomona College dining hall staff over alleged documentation violations appears to be a story about the harsh policies facing America’s undocumented workers. But it is also a story about labor, and the growing difficulty of organizing for improvement in working conditions among those most vulnerable to exploitation. The Pomona workers’ situation illustrates the need not only for humane reforms in immigration policy, but the need for sensible national labor policies generally, beginning with a revival of the moribund Employee Free Choice Act. Continue reading

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