Palestine Labor Abolition Commentary Print

Documenting and amplifying 5C organizing

About Join Read issue 1
Labor

March 2, 2023

Pitzer’s Unfair Labor Practices, Explained

UNITE HERE! has filed six ULPs alleging that Pitzer College and Bon Appetit Management Company have engaged in illegal anti-union behavior in the past year.

Samson Zhang, Jack Weidner, Arenaria Cramer

Denied sick time. Deprived of vacation pay. Job duties changed. Placed on do-not-hire list.

These are among the actions that UNITE HERE! alleged in a series of formal legal complaints Pitzer College and Bon Appetit Management Company have carried out in retaliation for their employees’ union support — culminating in the termination of three pro-union BAMCO workers.

In response, students and workers have led five delegations to Pitzer administrators and trustees demanding acknowledgement and redress. On Feb. 27, the Claremont Student Worker Alliance published a petition for the three workers to be re-hired.

Here’s everything you need to know about the ULPs fired against Pitzer and BAMCO, including links to the original documents.

A quick primer

UNITE HERE! Local 11 is: the union that has represented Pitzer dining and facilities workers since they voted to unionize in August 2022.

Unfair Labor Practices are: violations of federal law that protect workers’ rights to organize or seek support from a union. UNITE HERE! has filed six complaints alleging ULPs by Pitzer and BAMCO. Three allege practices by Pitzer, while three allege practices by Pitzer and BAMCO as joint employers.

The National Labor Relations Board is: the federal agency that reviews ULPs, decides cases, and enforces labor law. The NLRB has ruled on the first three of the Pitzer ULPs, while the three filed after unionization are pending.

Bon Appetit Management Company (BAMCO) is: a subcontractor that Pitzer College employs some of its employees through.

In an email sent to Pitzer students on March 1, Interim President Jill Klein alleged that the college has no responsibility for unfair actions taken against BAMCO workers. However, in response to questions from The Student Life in the fall, Pitzer spokesperson Wendy Shattuck said that the college opens investigations into allegations of wrongful behavior on BAMCO’s part. Shattuck did not respond to TSL’s questions asking for updates on investigations in February.

Pitzer also contends that BAMCO workers should not be part of the bargaining unit that UNITE HERE! represents, while UNITE HERE! Organizing Director Noel Rodriguez PO ’89 told Undercurrents that BAMCO workers are part of the same “community of interest” — i.e. occupy the same workplace and perform the same services — as Pitzer dining and facilities workers and should be included. Whether BAMCO workers are included in the union or not is in the process of being determined via NLRB arbitration.

February 7, 2023: Sixth ULP filed

Link to sixth ULP / Link to The Student Life/Undercurrents coverage

The ULP alleges that Pitzer and Bon Appetit as joint employers violated Section 8(a)(1) by:

Additionally, the ULP alleges that Pitzer and Bon Appetit as joint employers violated Section 8(a)(1) and (3) by taking the following actions in retaliation for employees Alexis Ongpin and Stephanie Smith’s union support:

February: Students and workers lead delegations in response to ULPs

Students and workers led five delegations to Pitzer administrators and trustees demanding a response to the three ULPs filed since unionization.

Jan. 17, 2023: Fifth ULP filed

Link to fifth ULP / Link to The Student Life/Undercurrents coverage

The ULP alleges that Pitzer and Bon Appetit as joint employers violated Section 8(a)(1) and (3) of the National Labor Relations Act by by terminating employee Kevin Ayala in retaliation for engaging in Union and other protected concerted activity.

Verbatim quote: “Within the past six months, the above-named Employers, through their agents, have violated Sections 8(a)(1) and (3) of the Act by, inter alia, terminating employee Kevin Ayala in retaliation for engaging in Union and other protected concerted activity. This allegation is closely related to the previously filed and currently pending allegations in Case No. 21-CA-306747.”

Case 21-CA-306747 is the Nov. 7, 2022 ULP.

Dec. 9, 2022: workers vote in favor of union again in decertification petition

After 30 percent of the bargaining unit filed a petition to decertify the union, a union certification vote was held on Dec. 9, in which a majority of workers again voted in favor of the union.

Nov. 7, 2022: fourth ULP filed

Link to fourth ULP. Note: the linked document signature and attachment date reads Feb. 1, 2023, but the ULP was initially filed on Nov. 7, 2022. See the NLRB’s corresponding case page for confirmation. Link to The Student Life/Undercurrents coverage

The ULP alleges that Pitzer and Bon Appetit as joint employers violated Section 8(a)(1) of the National Labor Relations Act by coercing workers into not voting in the decertification election, telling a worker that he did not have the right to engage in union activity, and interrogating a worker about his union support. In addition, the joint employers violated section 8(a)(1) and (3) of the National Labor Relations Act by cutting worker Kevin Ayala’s hours and denying him sick time in retaliation for union support.

Verbatim quote:

Within the past six months, the above-named Employers, through their agents, have violated Section 8(a)(1) of the Act by, inter alia:

  1. Coercing and dissuading employees without supervisory duties from voting in the decertification election;
  2. Telling a non-supervisory employee that he did not have a right to engage in Union activity; and
  3. Unlawfully and coercively interrogating a unit employee regarding his Union sentiments and/or his support for the Union.

In addition, the Employers, through their agents, have violated Sections 8(a)(1) and (3) of the Act by, inter alia:

  1. Discriminating against employee Kevin Ayala by depriving him of work in retaliation for engaging in Union and other protected concerted activity; and
  2. Discriminating against employee Kevin Ayala by denying him previously approved sick time in retaliation for engaging in Union and other protected concerted activity.

May 10, 2022, before unionization: First ULP filed

Link to first ULP

The ULP alleges that Pitzer College violated Section 8(a)(1) of the National Labor Relations Act by promising benefits to employees who did not join the union, threatening retaliation if employees joined the union, telling workers they were not allowed to talk about the union on the job, and holding a captive-audience meeting.

Verbatim quote: “Within the past six months, the above-named Employer violated Section 8(a)(1) of the Act (i) by unlawfully promising benefits to discourage employees from joining a union, (ii) by unlawfully threatening retaliation if employees joined a union, (iii) by promulgating a facially unlawful work rule prohibiting employees from discussing union activity, and (iv) by making the aforementioned statements at a “captive audience” meeting contrary to the guidance of GC Memo 22-04.”

Aug. 25, 2022: union recognized after worker majority vote

Link to The Student Life coverage

June 16, 2022, before unionization: third ULP filed

Link to third ULP / Link to The Student Life coverage

The ULP alleges that Pitzer College violated Section 8(a)(1) of the National Labor Relations Act by sending all dining workers a letter and/or email telling them they were not allowed to talk about unionization.

Verbatim quote: “The Employer violated Section 8(a)(1) of the Act by promulgating a facially unlawful work rule singling out and prohibiting speech about unionization via a letter and/or email sent to all dining services employees by the president of Pitzer College, Melvin L. Oliver, on May 26, 2022.”

May 24, 2022, before unionization: second ULP filed

Link to second ULP

The ULP alleges that Pitzer College violated Section 8(a)(1) of the National Labor Relations Act by holding a second audience-captive meeting on May 12, 2022. In this meeting, Tonian Morbitt, who Pitzer’s website identified as a general manager in September 2021, told workers they were not allowed to talk about the union on the job, which is illegal.

Verbatim quote: “The Employer violated Section 8(a)(1) of the Act by unlawfully holding a second captive-audience meeting on May 12, 2022, in which Ms. Morbitt promulgated a facially unlawful work rule prohibiting talk about the union while on the job.”

Read more

Labor

#dropstarbucks: CSWA launches new campaign at teach-in

Palestine

270+ students walk out in the rain to support Pomona divestment, protest disciplinary action against students

Abolition

Palestine

SJP brings Maya Wind and Robin D.G. Kelley to discuss scholasticide in Palestine

Thanks for reading Undercurrents

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

Read issue 1