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October 14, 2022

CSWA publishes annoted response to anti-worker Pomona admin email

In response to claims that living wages are not "realistic", CSWA points out admin's exploitation of workers

Samson Zhang

On Oct. 14, 2022 Pomona administrators Jeff Roth, Brenda Rushforth and Bob Robinson sent an email to all Pomona students with the subject line “Dining Contract Negotiations Update”.

Students from the Claremont Student Worker Alliance (CSWA) responded to the email by publishing an annotated version on Instagram on Oct. 14. This annotated version is republished below.

The original email text is unitalicized and unbolded below. Strikethroughs and bolded text are annotations made by CSWA.

Dear Pomona College Community,

We are writing with an update regarding the ongoing contract negotiations with Unite Here Local 11, the union for Pomona’s dining team. Negotiations began in August after the expiration of the previous three-year contract which brought strong wage gains we hope to build on.

We deeply respect our dining team don’t respect our dining team enough to pay them fairly, and we all share the goal of providing excellent wages paired with an exceptional package of benefits to hope to continue getting away with paying them exploitative poverty wages that don’t support employees and or their families.

As negotiations for a new contract continue, student media is reporting today that the union plans a strike authorization vote later this month, and we felt an obligation to provide more background to the community.

We’ve had productive negotiations in past contract cycles over the last decade and our hope is to continue on that path. The previous dining contract was a particularly significant step forward, offering real progress in addressing cost of living pressures. Now we are seeking to build on those gains for our dining team in the next contract manipulate our students and the public by falsely claiming that we can’t afford to meet our dining staff’s demands for a living wage.

For the sake of transparency, we do note that the 45 percent raise (which shows how far off current wages are from meeting a living standard) over a single year sought by the union’s negotiators dining staff is not a realistic fair demand we are able but unwilling to meet.

Again, we recognize but refuse to remediate the cost-of-living pressures every employee is facing. Our recent wage offer provides historically high increases a miniscule wage increase that doesn’t even keep up with inflation and signals how serious we are about reaching a deal that benefits that we don’t respect nor take seriously the necessity of demands made by the dining team.

If labor actions do take place, we will continue to treat every employee and member of our community with respect. We anticipate that there will be some impact to the meal services we can provide for our students, faculty, and staff. We will be seeking to minimize any temporary disruption in service levels by offering multiple options to make sure that meals are provided each day undermine dining staff’s collective power, hiring scabs in a poor attempt to mimic our dining staff’s high level of skill and training because despite not wanting to pay them fairly we know nothing runs without them.

The dining team is an important part of our community, and our hope is that union negotiators will continue discussions to reach we can manipulate workers into a multi-year agreement that benefits employees, their families and the wider community allows us to continue exploiting essential employees by paying them unlivable wages.


Jeff Roth

Brenda Rushforth

Bob Robinson

Vice President, Chief Operating Officer and Treasurer

Assistant Vice President, Human Resources

Assistant Vice President,


Jeff Roth makes $456,498/year ($219.47/hr)*.

Brenda Rushforth makes $213,118/year ($102.46/hr).

Bob Robinson makes $231,160/year ($111.13/hr).

Source. *estimated based on 2021 Chief Operating Officer salary

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Undercurrents reports on labor, Palestine liberation, prison abolition and other community organizing at and around the Claremont Colleges.

Issue 1 / Spring 2023

Setting the Standard

How Pomona workers won a historic $25 minimum wage; a new union in Claremont; Tony Hoang on organizing

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