5C Students Boycott McConnell

By Kitty Grant

Photo by Christopher Salazar PZ ’23

On Friday, March 24th, students from across the 5Cs boycotted Pitzer’s dining hall, McConnell Bistro. The boycott is part of Claremont Student Workers Alliance’s (CSWA) ‘Rehire the Pitzer 3’ campaign, following the alleged unlawful termination of three Pitzer workers due to their union ties. 

Kevin Ayala, Stephanie Smith, and Alexis Ongpoy were hired by Bon Appetit Management Company, who are contracted by Pitzer to run the college’s McConnell dining hall, as well as the Pit Stop Cafe and The Shakedown. They were fired at the start of the year allegedly for supporting the union. Pitzer advertised the same jobs the next day.

The boycott was the culmination of CSWA’s ‘Week of Demand’ which also included a delegation on Monday and a rally on Thursday. 

Students formed pickets at the two entrances to the McConnell Dining Hall during the breakfast, lunch, and dinner periods, with numbers ranging from just five people to dozens at each entrance. 

The protesters made themselves known with loud chants and banging instruments. Chants included “What’s disgusting? Union Busting!” and “Pitzer escucha, estamos en la lucha!” Some students also carried signs with slogans like “Go 2 Frank” and “Don’t cross the picket line!”

CSWA leaders told me that over the course of the day, only about ten people successfully crossed the picket to eat at Pitzer’s dining establishments. Most of these occasions were early in each dining period, when fewer people were on the picket.

The main focus of the action was McConnell dining hall, but students also formed picket lines outside Pit-Stop Cafe and The Shakedown Cafe. At the Pit-Stop, picketers were led by Elena Hockensmith PZ ‘23. Though there were only four people on the picket, nobody attempted to cross the line. 

“There was really just this incentive to keep each other’s spirits up and be as loud as possible,” said Hockensmith, “which was pretty cool.”

Both the Pit-Stop and The Shakedown were eventually closed early, as no students attempted to eat at either establishment. The staff working all received a full day’s pay.

While the campaign uses the slogan ‘Rehire the Pitzer 3’, CSWA leaders have clarified that Pitzer does not have the power to rehire them as they were hired by Bon Appetit, rather than the college. Instead, they are demanding that Pitzer offers them full-time employment directly.

Though the boycott has now finished, CSWA will continue to take action until their demands are met. On Tuesday, April 4, and on Saturday, April 8, CSWA organized further boycotts of Pitzer dining establishments for dinner.

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