Palestine Labor Abolition Affinity groups Commentary

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March 30, 2024

Student workers at Coop and Cafe 47 announce new union, demanding voluntary recognition from administration

120+ students and dining hall workers attend rally in solidarity with student workers filing to unionize with UNITE HERE! Local 11

Undercurrents staff

On March 30th, more than 120 students and workers rallied at Smith Campus Center in support of Coop and Cafe 47 workers announcing their union filing with UNITE HERE! Local 11. The new union effort comes after numerous closures and unstable working hours throughout the year. 

At the rally, Coop and Cafe 47 workers shared why they want to join the union, including stable working hours to higher wages. 

“I support the union because I think that everyone should have stable hours. You shouldn’t just wake up one day and not know where if you’re gonna have your job or not,” a student worker, who also asked to remain anonymous out of safety concerns, said at the rally. 

Over the past academic year, Pomona College has shut down the Coop and Cafe 47 numerous times due to cited staff shortages. Student workers at the rally shared how the reduced and unstable working hours lost them thousands of dollars in financial aid. 

“Honestly we do so much work at the coop and cafe. Especially from 3-5, we’re basically a dining hall,” said Amrit Bajwa PO ‘25. “So I think we deserve fair wages, we deserve proper communication with management, and most of all we deserve protection because people have lost literally all of their work hours this semester.”

Dozens of workers from Pomona College’s dining halls – who recently won a $7.50 raise last academic school year – also spoke out in support of student efforts to unionize. Rolando Araiza, a Frary cook and shop steward, spoke to students setting a new precedent for Pomona College. 

“I think this is very important to understand that this is gonna be a new chapter in Pomona’s College’s history, where our students are gonna be the first students here on campus trying to fight this force. And then trying to fight against college to form a union,” Araiza said at the rally.

After filing is completed, Pomona College has a choice between voluntarily recognizing the union or forcing an election amongst the student workers. 

“They need to voluntarily recognize us now and go to the bargaining table and actually negotiate with their workers,” Samson Zhang, a student worker, said at the rally. 

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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