Students Argue Pitzer Fails to Support Injured Staff
Elizabeth Lee | Oct. 9, 2015, 4:53 a.m.
Protesters marching to Pitzer's McConnell Center.
The Claremont Student Worker Alliance (CSWA) led a march of over 30 students on Oct. 2 to Pitzer College’s Human Resources Office in support of one of the school’s maintenance employees, Dominic Salcido.
According to the CSWA’s flyers for the event, Salcido was recently removed from his position as a technician and reassigned to do work that requires longer standing time and unnecessary weight-lifting restrictions. The CWSA has also claimed that Salcido has been targeted by the administration since he petitioned for better health care coverage in 2013.
At the end of the march to the McConnell Center's Founders Room, CSWA presented a petition with over 600 signatures to Interim President Thomas Poon, Director of Human Resources Marni Bobich, and Treasurer/Vice President for Administration Yuet Lee. The petition demanded that Salcido be allowed to return to his former position. Salcido could not be reached for comment, although CSWA asserted that he had requested that the group represent him.
According to Caroline Bourscheid PZ ‘16, Pitzer often pushes injured staff members out and replaces them with subcontracted workers.
“We recognize this job reassignment as discrimination,” Bourscheid said during CSWA’s meeting with administrators. “Pitzer has developed a pattern of failing to accommodate injured workers with lighter duties, often resulting in their early retirement or termination.”
The administrators present at the protest said that they were unable to address the group’s concerns over Salcido without his written authorization to allow them to represent him or discuss his professional and medical records.
Isabelle Shine PZ '16 holds up a sign in the Founders Room of Pitzer's McConnell Center.
The administration “uses the bureaucracy and... legality of things to derail the conversation, and the conversation is that workers are being mistreated, and they’re not doing anything about it,” Bourscheid said in an interview with TSL. “Dominic shouldn’t have to release his personal information to anyone in order for him to get changes. We weren’t even asking for them to talk to us about it, we were just asking for them to change it.”
During the delegation, the student protesters also pointed to a Pitzer Student Senate Resolution passed last year which requested the annual release of information about Pitzer employees and subcontracted workers, including information about total compensation and benefits distributed by position, department, race, gender and length of employment. They also requested that Pitzer release the results of the Mercer Staff Climate Survey, which obtained employee feedback on issues regarding communication, compensation, benefits and employee morale, according to Bobich.
At the delegation, Bobich explained that Pitzer is not legally permitted to release the information requested in the Resolution, as the demographics would allow individuals to be identified. Poon assured students that the Staff Council Representatives (SCR) would release the results of the Mercer Staff Climate Survey.
During the delegation, CSWA members expressed concerns that the SCR did not effectively represent the voices and interests of all employees, particularly low-income members.
"SCR has been working diligently to review the results and determine how to best work with leadership to enact impactful change,” Bobich said in an interview with TSL.
During the meeting with student protesters, Poon suggested to the student protesters that they do more research on employment law, discrimination law and disability law before coming back “with an even stronger proposal.”
“All of these activities contribute to our students’ education, but I think the degree of contribution varies depending on the amount of preparation and research that goes into each activity,” Poon said in an interview with TSL.
Protesters meet with Pitzer's administration in the Founders Room.
Bobich said that CSWA’s allegations of Pitzer pushing out or failing to accommodate disabled workers were inaccurate and that the college complies with all state and federal laws, as well as privacy policies.
“In accordance with these laws, the college engages in the interactive process directly with an employee when presented with either temporary or permanent work restrictions and strives to return all injured employees to work, with or without a reasonable accommodation," Bobich said.
Bourscheid called the administration's response to the protest "belittling."
"We’re not just doing this to walk around with signs, we’re doing this because we actually care about the people in this community,” Bourscheid said. “We definitely have more work to do, and we’re going to keep pushing and coming up with new tactics to address these issues.”
Correction: An earlier version of this article misspelled Marni Bobich's name.