In the last week, 53 concerned alumni and 48 Pomona College faculty members have written open letters to President David Oxtoby and the Board of Trustees urging the college to follow through on its promise to refrain from any anti-union campaigning during the period of time before dining hall staff vote on unionizing with UNITE-HERE April 30.
According to Pomona history professor Victor Silverman, one of the main organizing faculty members behind the letter, the faculty decided to write an open letter to the administration in order to attempt to ensure a fair process for dining hall workers.
“We wanted to do what we can to make sure that this process goes smoothly and well and that the workers get a chance to voice their opinions of what they want for the future in an atmosphere without intimidation or fear,” Silverman said. “Frankly, there’s been problems in the past, pretty serious ones, and we wanted to try and make sure that we go forward in a positive way.”
While the faculty’s letter mainly urges the college to stick to the promise of abstaining from anti-union activity, the letter written by alumni demands that the college be more proactive about ensuring a free and fair election.
The letter outlines what alumni hope the college’s response will be, stating: “In the upcoming NLRB [National Labor Relations Board] election, we expect nothing less than what labor experts call ‘positive neutrality’ (rather than token neutrality or anti-unionism in the guise of management ‘free speech’). This means that the College takes an attitude consistent with the original intent of the National Labor Relations Act—for example, ‘Our position (Pomona College) is that we welcome union representation if the employees vote for this in a free and fair election.’”
The letter closes with alumni expressing their hopes that the resolution of the unionization debate will settle disagreements between alumni and the administration, and it acknowledges that the way the college has handled the unionization process has alienated many concerned alumni.
“We appreciate your consideration of our concerns, and are very much hoping for a strong show of good faith on the part of your administration,” the letter reads. “We long for reconciliation with the alma mater we would once again love to admire and support.”