Work Authorization Requirements Stir Campus Unrest
In November and December 2011, the Pomona College community learned a great deal about the federal law governing employment eligibility, the I-9 work authorization form, and the impact immigration laws can have on a close-knit community.
A complaint to the leadership of the Pomona College Board of Trustees concerning the College’s hiring practices led to an audit of the Employee Eligibility Verification files (known as I-9 forms) of all College employees. While the audit proved the allegations in the complaint to be unfounded, it did make the College aware of deficiencies in I-9 files of 84 faculty and staff. The College alerted those 84 employees in November, and all but 17 were able to resolve their issues.
Under federal law, the College must maintain copies of employee-provided documents that establish their legal authorization to work in the U.S. If an employer becomes aware of deficiencies in an I-9 file, the employer is not in compliance with federal law until the employee's documents have been verified. If work authorization documents are found to be fraudulent, it is unlawful to continue to employ that person.
The College’s actions to address these deficiencies, as required by law, raised questions and concerns on campus about the law, the College’s values and how it treats employees. Pomona College strives to maintain an inclusive environment, working to ensure that all members of the community feel equally welcome. Throughout November and December, the College endeavored to support affected employees while protecting their confidentiality and maintaining open and honest conversation with all members of its community. This web page is intended to be an information center on related communications and events.
- Nov. 7, 2011 – Notice to Affected Staff and Faculty Members [pdf]
- Nov. 8, 2011 – Letter to the College Community from President Oxtoby [pdf] explaining the complaint, investigation and process to resolve deficient I-9 documents
- Nov. 28, 2011 – Letter to the Community from the Board of Trustees [pdf] regarding issues surrounding the request to employees to correct work authorization files and re-affirming the College's commitment to an inclusive environment
- Dec. 1, 2011 - Letter to the Community from President Oxtoby [pdf] regarding the process to update the I-9 files, the support being provided to the 17 workers who were unable to do so, and the impact of the process on campus
- Dec. 9, 2011 – Letter to the Community [pdf] from President Oxtoby regarding the student fast, an update [pdf] , and the student's notice that they were beginning to fast [pdf]
- October 3, 2012 - Letter from Acting President Cecilia Conrad [pdf] to the editor of The Student Life regarding the College's commitment to hiring former employees
Nov. 7, 2011
84 Pomona faculty staff and part-time employees notified that they have deficiencies in their work authorization file and that they should schedule an appointment that week with Human Resources to learn more
Nov. 16, 2011
Faculty meeting passes resolution [pdf] in support of all College employees
Nov. 21, 2011
ASPC passes resolution [pdf] in support of College employees
Dec. 2, 2011
Employees who were unable to correct deficiencies in their file had their employment at the College terminated. A protest at the College by 150-200 staff, students, alumni and members of UNITE HERE.
Dec. 6, 2011
The College held a staff meeting with President Oxtoby, who provided an overview of the issue and answered questions.
Dec. 7, 2011
Student Forum with President Oxtoby Arranged by ASPC
Dec. 7, 2011
Faculty meeting passes resolution [pdf] in support of workers, asking for specific actions from the Administration.
Dec. 9, 2011
Four students begin a hunger strike over the firing of 17 workers who could not provide work authorization documents. (Student fast statement [pdf] ) President Oxtoby responds [pdf] and informs the community of the hunger strike's resolution [pdf] .
Dec. 13, 2011
During the regular meeting of the Board of Trustees, a group of members of the Board of Trustees and a group of faculty meet to discuss the issues. On Jan. 17, 2012, Board Chair Paul S. Efron '76 writes a letter to faculty [pdf] on behalf of the Board of Trustees with a summary of the meeting.
Dec. 14, 2011
A group of members of the Board of Trustees meets with current and former Dining Services employees. On January 17, 2012, Trustee Jeanne Buckley '65 sends a letter to staff [pdf] on behalf of the Board of Trustees with a summary of the meeting.
Dec. 14, 2011
The Trustee Committee on Student Affairs meets with representatives from ASPC and the Concerned Students of Pomona College, who are holding the tent vigil outside of Alexander Hall to discuss the students' concerns on the issues. On Jan. 17, 2012, Trustee Lynn Yonekura '70 sends a letter to students [pdf] on behalf of the Board of Trustees with a summary of the meeting.
Dec. 15, 2011
The Student Life publishes a summary of the Dec. 13 and Dec. 14 meetings between groups of Trustees, students, faculty and Dining Services staff
Jan. 14, 2012
Pomona forum on work authorization with President David Oxtoby for Southern California alumni
- During November 2011, the College arranged for two immigration law attorneys, at College expense, to assist affected staff in gathering or updating the proper paperwork necessary to correct the deficiencies in their files
- The College arranged for a Spanish language interpreter to be available for any of the employee meetings with Human Resources during the week of November 7.
- Human Resources was available to meet with any affected employee to discuss the issues with the file, answer questions and assist in helping them deal with any delays in getting their documents. Extensions were available by request.
- For those employees who were unable to correct the deficiencies in their file and were terminated, Pomona College provided two weeks of severance pay for every year of Pomona College employment and will continue to provide health insurance to those who were enrolled in College plans, at College expense, through June 30, 2012.
- For current dining services employees, two group counseling sessions were held in December. Another session is being scheduled. The Employee Assistance Program is also providing individual counseling on request.
- The College will also rehire any employee terminated on December 2 if they present current work authorization documents to the Human Resources Office before 5 p.m. on June 30, 2012. (Decision announced Dec. 7, 2011.)
- Feb. 2, 2012 - KCRW interview with President David Oxtoby (starts near 19:20)
- Dec. 4, 2011 - Email to the Faculty from Dean Conrad with information on sponsoring immigrants [pdf]
- Dec. 2, 2011 – Email to Students from Dean Feldblum about Dec. 2 protest on campus [pdf]
- Dec. 2, 2011 – Events of December 2 reported by The Student Life
- Dec. 1, 2011 – Email to Students from Dean Feldblum regarding expectations and conduct during boycotts and demonstrations [pdf]
- Nov. 29, 2011 – Email to Students from Dean Feldblum [pdf]
- More information on the issues, events and related opinion on The Student Life website - www.tsl.pomona.edu
- Fasting Students Statement of Purpose - www.strikefastpomona.wordpress.com
- Concerned Students at Pomona College (the tents) – letters and statement of purpose www.concernedpomonastudents.wordpress.com
- Information on unionization at Pomona College