POMONA — Padlocking Pitzer College's president out of her own office, students from the Claremont Colleges occupied an administration building Thursday and vowed to remain there until the institution's cafeteria workers get better working conditions.
The group of students took over the the hub of Pitzer College--the Broad Center--as the doors opened early Thursday. They quickly padlocked and chained the doors and covered windows with blankets to shield their identities.
Outside, supporters described the takeover as a last-resort effort to convince the presidents of Claremont's five colleges to put pressure on its food contractor, Aramark Corp. They alleged that Aramark could intimidate cafeteria workers who are trying to unionize.
The students "are prepared to be in there for a long time--for at least three weeks until school gets out," said Siobhan Acosta, 20, one of the protesters. "Our point is simply to take over the building and not let anybody in."
Thursday's action was the latest in a two-year struggle between the college administration and students over the right of Aramark's college dining hall employees to unionize.
Pitzer President Marilyn Chapin Massey said she supports the right of Aramark employees to organize. Nevertheless, she said, "It is not in my power to pressure Aramark to sign a non-intimidation/neutrality agreement."