On Alleged Intimidation, It's Workers' Word Against Management's
Pomona College dining hall workers who were fired in December said that General Manager Glenn Graziano and Assistant Director of Campus Services Margie McKenna should be fired for alleged anti-union intimidation in an open forum in Rose Hills Theatre Tuesday. Graziano and McKenna said the allegations against them were false.
“The new management has been very rude to workers," said Christian Torres, a terminated worker who had been a leader in an effort to unionize the dining hall employees. "They don’t work well with the workers involved in the unionization movement, those wearing the [pro-union] buttons. I think the best solution is for them to be fired."
Torres said that when the unionization effort began two years ago, Graziano pulled him aside and told him to ignore pro-union activists.
"He said, 'You can get fired with or without union. Without union, you would get better raises, better benefits,'" Torres said.
Graziano, however, called this allegation "ludicrous."
"That meeting never took place," he said.
Torres said that he believes he was rejected for a promotion because of his pro-union activity and that McKenna told him as much.
“I was interested in a better position," he said. "I had been working in the kitchen since I was 16 years old. Later, Margie asked me, 'You applied for this position? And did you get it? You know why?... Because you were wearing a union button.'”
McKenna said she never spoke to Torres about his application for the promotion.
José Garcia, another of the 17 workers who were terminated in December because they could not produce immigration documents by the beginning of the month, said Graziano changed his schedule against his will after he began wearing a pro-union button. Speaking in Spanish through interpreter Isabel Juarez PO '13, Garcia said he had Fridays and Saturdays off of work until Graziano changed one of his days off to Wednesday.
"His schedule changed because he requested it," Graziano said.
McKenna said all employees have consecutive days off unless they request a different schedule.
The Rose Hills panel featured five of the 17 terminated workers, who spoke about their experiences working for the college to an audience of close to 70 students.
"This event is about opening up conversation between workers and students interested in supporting workers," Juarez said. "We were really connected last semester, but there hasn’t been any obvious channel of communications this semester. We just want to make sure everyone is on the same page."
The workers said that current employees have continued to try to unionize, and asked students to suggest ways in which they could support the workers. Some audience members discussed asking Pomona to help current and terminated workers assemble immigration documents or gain U.S. citizenship.
Joaquin Estrada PO ’14 said he was relieved that unionization efforts have continued.
"One of my biggest fears coming into this semester was that everything would be forgotten,” he said.