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UNITE HERE Local 11: Pomona College Dining Hall Workers Vote over 90% to Authorize Strike Ahead of Family Weekend

Workers demand that prestigious college pay a living wage

Yesterday, over 90% of dining hall workers at Pomona College voted to authorize a strike. The negotiating committee could call a strike at any moment. Pomona will host Family Weekend on October 28 and 29.

The workers' primary contract demand is a significant raise to keep pace with the soaring cost of living. The MIT Living Wage Calculator estimates that a living wage for a family of four with two working adults in Los Angeles County is $30.73 an hour. Some dining hall employees, the overwhelmingly majority of whom are people of color, earn $18.00 an hour.

“As a skilled worker at Pomona College, my profession contributes to the health and wellness of the students and the college's overall success. I voted ‘Yes’ because I earn less than what is considered to be a ‘liveable’ wage in LA County. I am fighting and will continue to fight for what I and my fellow dining co-workers deserve,” said Marie O’Campo, baker of 8 years at Pomona College.

Pomona College has been ranked consistently among the country’s most prestigious colleges and universities. Dining hall workers at similar prestigious universities such as Yale University and Wesleyan College earn more than $30.00 an hour.

Pomona College’s $3 billion endowment is the 7th highest among all U.S. universities and colleges – ahead of Yale and Wesleyan – on a per student basis. Earlier this fall, Pomona opened a $57 million new athletic facility.

“I voted yes because I want more for myself and for my family. There are employees that have been working here for 30 years or more and they deserve more. I hope to one day be able to make enough to buy a house,” said Hector Melendrez, who earns $18.00 an hour as a utility worker.

“Not only is Pomona College one of our nation’s prestigious institutions of higher learning, the College also leads on issues of equity and access for their students,” said Kurt Petersen, co-president of UNITE HERE Local 11. “It is now time for the College to extend these same ideals to their dining hall workers. The first step is to pay them a living wage.”

UNITE HERE Local 11 is a labor union representing over 32,000 hospitality workers in Southern California and Arizona who work in hotels, restaurants, universities, convention centers, and airports.


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