Pomona College will rehire any of the 17 workers fired last December and who obtain a valid work permit through a new federal program, provided that those workers’ former positions are vacant, Acting President Cecilia Conrad said. She added that former Pomona employees whose positions have been filled will be given priority if they apply for other positions for which they are qualified.
This announcement comes in response to a request from former Pomona chef Christian Torres and Workers for Justice (WFJ), the pro-union group of Pomona dining hall employees. Last week, Torres and WFJ asked Pomona to promise to rehire any fired worker who can now get a work permit.
Pomona has not agreed to the exact terms of Torres and WFJ’s request, which would obligate the college to rehire newly authorized former employees even if their positions have been filled. Pomona will, however, give extra consideration to any former employees who apply for positions similar to the ones they held before last December, Conrad said.
“If you have two people with the qualifications for the position, in any employment process, you would probably give some extra points to somebody who has particular experience specific to your operation,” Conrad said.
Torres, a former seven-year employee of the college who is pursuing a work permit, said that although he was glad to be given a chance to get his job back, he expected more from the administration.
“After everything I gave them, they shouldn’t just be giving me priority,” Torres said.
Conrad said that the college had arrived at its official position after a week of deliberation that involved administrators in Senior Staff, Dining Services and Human Resources.
Assistant Vice President of Human Resources at Pomona College Brenda Rushforth added that Human Resources will not create new positions to accommodate workers who gain a work permit if there are no vacant positions.
“We are a non-profit organization, and we are strictly budgeted,” Rushforth said. “We wouldn’t create positions outside of what is budgeted.”
Rushforth said that she was not sure whether Torres’s or other former employees’ old jobs were vacant, but she said that there are still vacancies in Dining Services.
“From time to time, positions open up in Dining,” she said. “We are currently hiring.”
In December 2011, Pomona agreed to rehire any worker able to present valid work authorization documents by June 30, 2012.
Conrad said that she considers the administration’s new policy on rehiring to be “completely consistent with what we outlined last year.”
Before Pomona informed Torres or WFJ of its response to their request, Conrad submitted a letter to the editor of TSL announcing the administration’s position. Conrad said that the college chose to submit a letter to TSL because WFJ representatives had not made it clear whom the administration should contact with new information.