Victory at Pomona!

Today, people across the country and around the world are celebrating International Workers’ Day, a commemoration of years of struggle on the part of working people everywhere.  And while each May Day is unique in its own right, it is extra special for one group of American workers—Pomona College’s dining hall workers, who voted yesterday to join Unite Here Local 11 after a hard-fought campaign that lasted over three years.

Their campaign is particularly relevant to the ongoing discussion of the role of workers in the sustainable food movement.  Pomona’s dining services are self-operated, and the college prides itself on sustainability, committing itself to purchasing cage-free eggs, local and organic produce, and fair trade coffee and teas.  Over the years, cafeteria workers have committed themselves—and cooking skills
honed by years of experience in the kitchen—to ensuring the success of this program, even participating in two events celebrating Food Day, a national celebration and movement for healthy, sustainable and affordable food.  Just last week, Rolando Araiza was
recognized for his work as a worker leader with one of Real Food Challenge’s 2013 Real Food Awards.

Though their road to winning a union was long, their victory sends a powerful message for the rest of the food movement: justice for food workers is an integral piece of our struggle.  It’s time to finally ensure that fair treatment for those men and women who harvest, prep, cook and serveour food is mentioned in the same breath as animal rights, local, sustainable and organic, and we’re well on the way to making this new definition a reality.

In the words of worker Benny Avina, a catering chef at Pomona who has been on the job for 27 years, “For three years, we’ve fought what sometimes felt like an uphill battle. Today, we overcame all of those obstacles when we said yes.”

Real Food Real Jobs is happy to welcome the workers from Pomona College to Unite Here, and proud to continue our work in solidarity with workers at Pomona and elsewhere for a more just food system.

¡Sí se pudo!

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