According to the flyers that appeared around campus last weekend, Workers for Justice (WFJ) and their supporters are sponsoring a boycott of the Pomona dining halls this Saturday. Coincidentally, this weekend is also Family Weekend. The coincidence begs the question: was this boycott planned in order to bring our parents up to speed on the Pomona workers’ fight for unionization?
While holding the boycott on Family Weekend would be a good tactic to raise awareness for this long, drawn-out squabble, I think that WFJ and their supporters just did a poor job timing the event. After all, it’s Family Weekend, not Workers’ “Rights” Weekend. This time is not meant to be a platform for debate between students and their parents, or parents and the administration. It’s a time for family members who haven’t seen each other in over a month—and most likely will not see each other for at least another month— to catch up and enjoy each other’s company for these brief few days.
However, since families are suppose to “join [their] student for lunch in Frank or Frary Dining Hall” on Saturday, the boycott and accompanying pressure not to enter the dining halls not only hinders the aims of this weekend but directly attacks them by cutting into family time. If more than a week’s notice would have been given by a more wide-reaching form of communication than flyers, then maybe families could have planned other dining accommodations at a nearby restaurant. Maybe families will still be able to find other brunch options on this crowded weekend, but restaurant reservations typically fill up weeks in advance. Other than reduction in peaceful, non-stressful family time, since part (no matter how miniscule) of the registration fee for Family Weekend went to cover the cost of Saturday brunch, will WFJ refund this part of the registration fees to those parents who decide to participate in the boycott?
Furthermore, the boycott could have been held on plenty of dates that did not interfere with Family Weekend. If the boycott had taken place anytime earlier this week, TSL could have covered it and families would have been able to read about the event, just as they are reading the other articles about WFJ in this issue. Not only would this article have raised awareness, it would have done away with the shock-and-awe factor of a boycott while detailing a fair and accurate history of the push for unionization. TSL could have discussed how the administration has acted in their full legal right by allowing a secret ballot vote rather than a card check, or how the last boycott elicited many e-mails from Dean Feldblum about Students in Support of Workers for Justice harassing other students who chose to cross the picket lines and eat at a Pomona dining hall. Surely, a series of articles would have better informed families about the unionization efforts than the boycott tomorrow, which will play on peoples’ emotions and paint a skewed picture of the issue. And of course, this is negating any presumption that families have heard of the WFJ efforts through e-mails, their students, TSL, Pomona’s website, or the various other media outlets the unionization process has reached.
Taking into account all these problems and the alternative venues to raise yet more awareness for this issue, the boycott could not have been purposefully scheduled to interfere with Family Weekend. It’s just a simple case of poor planning…right?
If you would background information and a synopsis of the unionization efforts, please visit the Pomona College website at:http:/www.pomona.edu/unionization