Interview conducted by Anonymous Student PZ ‘25
This interview was conducted by an anonymous Pitzer student with three CSWA members who are employees of Pitzer College and also asked to remain anonymous. The original interview was done in a group-style setting, happening in both Spanish and English. All names have been changed to protect the identity of the interviewees. The exact interviews are transcribed as is, and Monica helped translate for Isabel and Patricia.
AS: When did you start to work at Pitzer and what has your relationship been with the school?
Patricia: Yo comencé a trabajar en 2008, por Pitzer, pero ya tenía tres años y medio por la agencia… Todo muy bien. La relación con los estudiantes, es excelente.
Isabel: Comencé a trabajar en 2022, y mi relación con la escuela, no ha sido tan mala, para mi.
AS: What problems have there been?
Patricia: Los problemas en realidad, últimamente, son por las aplicaciones que tenemos. Llegamos y estamos pensando que va pasar, si va entrar o no va entrar nuestro tiempo. Entonces, esas tres. Definitivamente.
Monica: She’s talking about the new time clock system. We don’t know if the application is going to work, or if it’s going to record our clock-in and clock-out times. She comes to work with all this stress from that.
Patricia: Yo, por ejemplo, no puedo ponchar sin ellas.
Monica: Before this, it was easy. You’d just come [in], swipe, and then get to work. Now, it’s unnecessary stress, having to make sure you’re doing it right, [that] you’re putting in all the steps correctly. She can’t clock in or out without us being here, because it’s hard and it’s so stressful.
AS: What changes need to happen and what demands can CSWA ask for? ¿Qué son cosas que necesitan atención? ¿Cuáles son las demandas que nos pueden ayudar los estudiantes del club CSWA?
Patricia: No sé exactamente, pero, que nos den todo que los necesitamos, como equipo de trabajo, diferente cosas que nos digan no hay… Todo el tiempo, pasan diferentes cosas. No está bien, que yo me voy [y ellos] se meten a agarrar cosas y aver que hay. O sea, no respetan.
Monica: One of the demands would be, when we run out of supplies, for them to bring us supplies and not say that they ran out. There have been times when they say they ran out when we’ve been asking them for a few days. She’s saying that she demands respect and that we are treated with respect. She’s saying a personal problem of hers, is that when she doesn’t come to work, whether it’s because of sick or doctor’s or a personal problem… people go in and take her things [from her closet]. And she’s saying, that’s not right.
Patricia: Y los trabajadores, no dicen nada.
Monica: It might be other workers [who take her things], but nobody does anything…
Patricia: Uno no puede dejar nada en su closet, porque llegan y se llevan todo. Si uno necesita dejar algo, un pantalón, algo que cambiar por algún accidente de algo, no se puede porque llegan y revuelvan todo. Y como digo, son los trabajadores. Nadie le llama la atención, eso no es correcto. Porque nunca les dice nada a los trabajadores… Es un abuso completamente… Y a mi me molesta porque yo no agarra nada a nadie… A mi me molesta porque lo hagan a mi. Pero, estamos bien, encima de todo eso, porque tenemos muchos estudiantes que nos apoyan, todos prácticamente.
Monica: Apart from all that, she’s good, we’re fine, she said. Mainly, because of the students. Because the students are supporting us and, basically almost all of the students have our back… She’s okay because of the support of the students.
Patricia: En todos estos años, graduación y graduación, yo he disfrutado mucho.
Monica: She says she’s enjoyed it a lot, because she’s seen all kinds of graduation ceremonies, and that brings her a lot of joy.
AS: Is there anything about wage and rights negotiations that workers want students to know? Or anything in general that you’d like to tell us that I don’t know what to ask about?
Patricia: Los problemas con los aumentos es que comenzaron a dar los aumentos a unas personas, a otras no… Dije, ‘¿por qué?’… ¿Cómo se llega a los números? Nunca, nadie nos explico. No más, comenzaron con el uno, con el dos, con el tres. Dije yo, ‘que voy hacer yo?’ ‘¿Tengo que pelear arriba para que me den el tres y me den aumento?’ Dije, ‘yo no voy hacer eso.’ Voy a tener que poner a me con todo para la unión, porque es la única manera que vamos a tener defensa…
Monica: She’s talking about the wages and how, what really was confusing and bothersome to her, is when they started doing the annual raises she only got maybe 49 cents or 39 cents. Something around there. They were giving raises to some people and not to others, giving higher raises to some and not others, and it was really random. We don’t really know how or where they’re facing off their numbers from. Also, they started talking about building attendant one, building attendant two, three, when before no one had ever mentioned anything about other numbers to her… How are we able to climb up, if she didn’t even know that there was such a thing as numbers? In all her years that she’s been working here, nobody has ever [mentioned these numbers]. And so her thought was ‘What do I have to do to get up to a two or three?’ [She has] to put all of her effort and strength because she’s already doing the work.
Also, she was talking about the self-evaluations that they do every so often. It’s kind of tricky the way to do it here. She doesn’t really understand why they do it like that. It’s basically self-evaluating. She finds it not right because she feels that it should be your supervisor evaluating your work. She said, ‘For me personally, I can just put a 10 for everything because I feel like I’m doing my job.’ There’s no feedback or conversation with the supervisor or anybody because of that.
Patricia: Tenemos miedo, porque ellos son jefes. Últimamente, estamos tratando de arreglar eso, obviamente.
Monica: As she was saying, because of all the injustice with the raises, she felt like, ‘What else can I do [besides] be a part of the union?’ Because that’s the only way that we can change things.
Patricia: Que estamos tratando de arreglar eso. Entre la unión para tener defensa.
Monica: She said that we’re trying to make things better by bringing the union and making a change. A lot of people are afraid because they’re these bosses and they basically can get rid of us whenever they want, so we’re trying to change that by having the union.
Patricia: Para ganar un poco de aumento y respeto. Toda la vida, les he pedido. Yo soy la única que habla de eso.
Monica: We’re just demanding, a raise, a good living wage, and respect. She said that that’s the only thing that she’s ever asked for. She said that she’s the only one that’s ever voiced that out.
Patricia: Es difícil.
AS: What is the work environment like at Pitzer?
Isabel: El ambiente de trabajo se siente pesado. Ya que pues tenemos una responsabilidad muy grande encima de nosotros, que son los estudiantes. Y más que todo, la paga. La paga lo que nos están pagando es el mínimo. Y pues para mi, para todos mis compañeros, nos merecemos más de 17 dólares. Porque estamos dando un servicio excelente a toda nuestra comunidad.
Monica: The work culture here, for the custodial and facilities department, we feel underappreciated. We’re not set up for success by management, by our supervisors, or by the people who are making the decisions for the departments. There’s a lack of communication and really a lack of accountability for them to be held responsible to treat us with dignity and respect. And that is a reflection in the way that they choose to pay us really low wages.
Now, with the union, I feel like we’re gaining the momentum of feeling a little bit more empowered to be able to speak up for ourselves. Having the support of the students has helped us tremendously, to know we do deserve better pay, and respect, and dignity, and to be treated like that. [To know we deserve] having communication from management and from the department. It’s one of the issues, but it’s one of the things that we’re already empowering ourselves to change. It sucks because we’re the ones that have to do it, but who else is going to do it?
We’re really trying to change the culture here. That’s one of the main issues that I saw. There was such a big disconnect between the standard and the core values that the college says that they’re all about, then coming and being treated this completely different way. There was such a big disconnect…
I came in being really excited to work in a place that had the core values of environmental sustainability and social justice. Then [realizing], oh, I think that’s just a front, or marketing, or just taught to the students and that’s it — and nothing to back them up with.
AS: What changes need to happen and what demands can CSWA ask for? How can students help?
Isabel: Para mi, lo particular en lo que los estudiantes nos pueden ayudar es en traer los tres trabajadores que corrieron… Y la manera en que estamos ponchando ahorita. Hay mucha gente mayor de edad que no sabe cómo usar una computadora, un iPad, o un teléfono inteligente. De esa manera, nos puede ayudar los estudiantes en dar les presión a los de administración.
Monica: She was just saying, we would like to see those three people that were fired returned back to work. It’s already been two months since they lost their job. That, and the clocking in and out.
We’re just trying to find a solution. We have had meetings with HR… and it seems like they’re a little bit more open, but it’s not like they’re giving us a choice, or including us in the conversation [to] work together to come to a compromise to meet in the middle. It’s more so, ‘We already decided this for you, and we’re willing to help you learn this.’ Which is okay, but why weren’t we included in the conversation? You could have easily done surveys, or just asked us. I was able to voice that to the head of HR, and I am glad we were able to have a meeting with them.
For CSWA students, I think it’s helpful to create that allyship or camaraderie with the workers and the students. I think it’s always strong when we have a community and a whole ecosystem. It’s powerful because it’s more of a natural way of doing things, where students and workers are really involved in a more communal way. Getting to know one another and figuring out people’s specific needs. Getting to know people in a more ground-level way is always beneficial.