Pomona’s Student organization Workers for Justice (WFJ) recently welcomed two first-years, Louie Lemus PO ’15 and Naomi Bosch PO ’15, into their ranks. Dormmates in Mudd, Lemus and Bosch will be two of several 5C freshmen joining the push for the Pomona dining hall worker unionization.
Lemus, of Colony High School in Ontario, CA, was first made aware of the cause through his friend and WFJ alumni Nick Gerber, PO ‘10. “He got me in contact and he told me about a protest that was occurring actually outside other hotels that were not on this [Pomona’s] campus, “ Lemus said at a WFJ rally in the summer.
After attending his first protest, Lemus felt that “there are a good strong batch of people who are actually really interested…there are issues in Pomona that the higher people in the community are not recognizing.” When asked if he would be supporting future protests by the group he replied, “I will most definitely.”
His fellow new recruit, Bosch, was drawn to the organization after conversations about the issue with Lemus and Gerber at a WFJ meeting. A graduate of El Molino High School, in the Bay Area, Bosch had ample experience with social movements through participation in the Hubub Club, an activist street band. She performed music gigs at local music festivals and farmer’s markets opposing California’s Proposition 8 and supporting Wisconsin workers’ right to unionize after recent anti-union laws. “I had been exposed to a lot of protest movements already including workers rights, union rights, immigration rights, and so it made me really happy to see that there are political conscience movements going on at Pomona…I felt like they were standing for the kind of things that I had already supported for years.”
Bosch and Lemus have since also recruited several members of her sponsor group and floormates for WFJ meetings. Like Bosch, Lemus was compelled to join by an already developed interest in social justice. He has witnessed protests of equal and bigger scope on visits with his family to Bolivia. In his own words, “In general, I’ve always had very deep feelings and thoughts about immigration and just workers rights in general because I’ve read so much in history”. Lemus maintains his opinion that WFJ is not a protest group for the sake of protest, but a legitimate vehicle for worker’s rights. He emphasized that his participation is based on his own deductions from available information and not merely hopping on the bandwagon, “I see what information was given to me and [take] a stance for myself.”
The two voiced their opposition to the recent termination of longtime dining hall worker Francisco Gárcia and the revised policies on worker-student interaction. “It does not seem like he was terminated with fair practice, “ said Louie. On the new regulations enacted after the WFJ movement started last Spring, Naomi commented, “they depleted the rights of the workers to even talk to students even if they’re on a break….that really hit hard.” she continued, “they are literally just fighting for the right to vote, the right to choose.”
A month into their first year of college, Lemus and Bosch are already fully engaged in their social passions. On top of their demanding course loads they attend WFJ meetings regularly and just last Friday rallied in front of Alexander Hall. Bosch said, “Getting involved in a movement like this can be an intense form of education; I’m glad that we are on a campus where people have that kind of motivation.”