Victory at Pomona College: Union Strategy and Immigrant Labor

TitleVictory at Pomona College: Union Strategy and Immigrant Labor
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsSilverman, Victor
JournalLabor Studies Journal
VolumePublished online before print December 30, 2014,
Date Published2014/12/30/
Keywordsdining hall workers, immigrant, Pomona College, union organizing, UNITE HERE

Despite the firing of 17 purported undocumented workers and bitter conflicts on campus, Pomona College’s dining hall staff overwhelmingly voted for UNITE HERE Local 11 in spring 2013 and approved a good contract less than a year later. Although a labor victory, the Pomona story, nonetheless, illustrates the obstacles to organizing low-wage immigrant workers at powerful institutions opposed to unionization. Drawing on interviews with labor and community activists, media reports, and the author’s participant observation, this article finds that campus and community support, while critical, could not prevent years of delays and serious acts of intimidation. This campaign had a transformative effect on the workers and their workplace but raises questions about long-term union strategy.