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Pomona College food workers rally after documentation questioned

November 16, 2011 |  1:24 pm

Pomona College dining hall workers who were asked to prove their legal authorization to work in the midst of a union organizing effort rallied at the school Wednesday.

Several workers received letters earlier this month asking to “provide current documentation of your identity and work authorization” by Dec. 1 or be “subject to termination.”

Dining hall workers have been trying to organize an independent union for about two years, said Cristian Torres, a cook who has worked at the school for six years. Those efforts are stalled in negotiations with the university, he said.

Felipa Sanchez, a cook at the university for 23 years, said she felt the letter was meant to intimidate workers.

“Why now, after 23 years, are they doing this?” she said.

Sanchez initially kept her distance from ongoing union organizing efforts, believing that “if you’re at work, if you do a good job, you’ll be OK,” she said. “Now I realize it’s not like that.”

Cynthia Peters, a spokeswoman for the college, said the letter followed an independent review of the college’s hiring practices prompted by an employee who accused the administration of not obtaining proper documentation from workers. The review found the accusations to be unfounded but identified dozens of employees with deficient documentation.  

“The college administration agrees that this audit comes at an unfortunate time, while people are trying to organize a union,” Peters said. “The two issues are not related.”


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-- Paloma Esquivel