Workers demand that prestigious college pay a living wage
Following stagnant negotiations with Pomona College, at 6 am Friday morning, dozens of dining hall workers at Pomona College walked out on strike as Family Weekend begins.
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.
“I am on strike because I deserve to provide for my family, the same way I care for Pomona’s wonderful students. As a skilled worker at Pomona College, my profession contributes to the health and wellness of the students and the college's overall success,” 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 am striking 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.
“Pomona College has failed to meet the workers’ demands. They have chosen to take a brave step, and we hope the college will finally listen to their concerns and give them the living wage they deserve,” said Kurt Petersen, co-president of UNITE HERE Local 11.
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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