Whittier College Exploits And Disrespects (Latina) Housekeepers

whittiergate has pointed out the plight of Whittier College's Latina housekeepers (See the 'A Whittier College Student Memoir' and 'Whittier College Awash in Alcohol, Drugs, Sex, Assault, Sexual Assault, and Communicable Diseases' pages on this site) and of housekeepers at the Whittier Radisson Hotel that's critically dependent on Whittier College-related business (See the 'The True Tale Of Sharon and the Formerly Erotic City' page on this site), since this site's inception. whittiergate has also explained (see the 'Diversity Scam' and 'Excerpts of whittiergate Conversation with Bart Brown' pages on this site) how Whittier College is doing great harm to Latino students and their families through a diversity scam, defrauding the federal Hispanic-Serving Institutions program of millions of dollars over the past decade while derailing ambitious Latino students' higher educations plans and/or burdening them with indebtedness beyond their ability to repay.

Finally, some Whittier College students, at least those involved with the Hispanic Students Association, MEChA (the Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan), and Minorities Caucus, showed at least a flicker of conscience. A petition being circulated on campus in support of Whittier College's exploited and disrespected housekeepers is giving all students and members of the college community an opportunity to express their support for these poor housekeepers. Find and sign this petition!

If you can't find this petition to sign, ask one of your housekeepers or ASWC President Gabriel Papa, the first Whittier College student president in memory students can be proud of for at least one selfless act during his term of office. Papa was one of approximately 50 students who accompanied housekeepers and their would be union representative, Ankush Dhupar from the SEIU (Service Employees International Union), to present a petition to Director of Facilities Ken Bohan.

Last year, when the Lancer Society and the administration were planning the Erotic City event at the Radisson Hotel - despite a community protest against this event, subsequently renamed Adam & Eve and returned to campus - there was a high likelihood that a SEIU picket line manned by (Latina) hotel housekeepers would have to be crossed, and the Lancers and Whittier College administration declared the event would go on - regardless of the hotel workers' desperation students would be encouraged to cross any picket line to participate in an event that demeans and endangers young coeds, an event that should've been ended years ago.

Now, when offered the housekeepers' petition, Director of Facilities Ken Bohan called Campus Safety to remove the petitioners and orderly supporters by force if necessary and said, "There is no such thing as a petition." Those who thought Barabas 'Barney' Peake, who engineered the Lancer Society-Radisson Hotel Erotic City deal last year, was a rum dumb and creep hadn't yet seen Ken Bohan in action. Word to Ken: there is a petition, workers and students have a right to petition, and if you continue to disrespect our housekeepers, you can do what Barney Peake did, leave Whittier College, you can do what you told our housekeepers to do, "Get out!"

The exploitation and disrespect at issue today has been going on since Whittier College has had minority housekeepers, but when the College entered into an agreement with the French multinational Sodexo to direct housekeeping services on campus that was the last straw. Sodexo is known for squeezing billions in profits out of underpaid, uninsured, overworked and under equipped and supplied minorities, and Whittier College has been a more than willing and like minded partner with Sodexo.

'Students Support Housekeepers: Attempt to present petition for better working conditions rejected' by Erika E. Perez (Photo: Angel Gonzalez): http://media.www.quakercampus.org/media/storage/paper1281/news/2010/02/25/News/students.support.housekeepers-3879405.shtml

Whittier College's hypocritical 'diversity' pitch has been clearly exposed by the plight of the College's housekeepers and the administration's not only ice cold but contemptible response. Some of Whittier College's housekeepers have been working at the College for decades, these women are the salt of the earth, not outside agitators or radicals. Everyone agrees that starting a job at $8 and change per hour, putting in 10 years of more than satisfactory service only to find you're making $9 and change per hour is plainly unacceptable. Health insurance deductions increase significantly, though, and the old indignities continue in such severe form that one wonders if Whittier College's administration, like Sodexo's executives and straw bosses, are living in the early 20th rather than 21st Century.

"We have 10 minutes to get our lunch from the C.I.and get back to our lunch room because we are not allowed to eat where students eat" and "Last Friday...I did not think 10 minutes would be enough to get my food so I did not eat," housekeeper Hortencia Quinonez told Q C's Perez. Reminds one of Latinos as well as Blacks being denied service in Whittier restaurants before the civil rights era dawned. But even the pre-civil rights era held nothing worse than Whittier College housekeepers having to eat lunch in a storage room where rat poison is kept.

The solution to Whittier College housekeeper problems is simple. Whittier College can terminate its agreement with Sodexo, directly hire its long-standing housekeepers, pay a living wage, provide for real pay increases over time, provide health benefits through its Health Service, and generally treat those doing the work no one else wants to do with the respect they're due - toward which causing the barring of Ken Bohan from campus forever would serve as a helpful cautionary tale. And students who go out of their way to make disgusting messes, which are also health hazards, need to be apprehended and compelled to atone by apologizing to our housekeepers and doing some cleaning themselves or being expelled from the College.

And these cold hearted creeps can eat their lunches in a closet where rat poison's stored like these housekeepers have had to do for years. There's hardly anything one can imagine that would be too harsh for the Whittier College administrators as well as Sodexo straw bosses who have made and okayed what these housekeepers have been and continue to be put through.

Spoiled, twisted, drunken so-called students regurgitate and piss and shit all over campus, in dorm lounges, halls, bathrooms, everywhere, and it is the housekeepers who have to clean it all up. Sharon Herzberger thought it was clever to switch places with a student for a day. We'd like to see Sharon Herzberger, Ken Bohan, and some spoiled Societies actives switch places with our housekeepers - for as long as it takes for Sharon, Ken, and the so-called students to learn their lessons.

Meanwhile, Whittier College has given the lie to its BS diversity pitch, has shown what the College really thinks of Latinos, which is what it has always thought of Latinos, that Latinos are inferior and are to be exploited and ignored - and can be disrespected if one feels like doing so. Whittier College's housekeepers could be the mothers or aunts or grandmothers of Latino Upward Bound and AVID students recruited by the College to defraud the Hispanic-Serving Institutions program of millions of dollars. And what do those working poor Latino students get? Crushing student debt and maybe but not likely a Whittier College degree worth what? Not much, not remotely as much as one costs, and given the current administration and trustees a Whittier College degree can only continue to cost more and more for less and less. One would think that since this College's housekeepers are, unlike its trustees and administrators, doing their job well that they would be respected.

Again, find the housekeepers petition, sign it, encourage others to sign it, and when you see one of our housekeepers cleaning and keeping this campus in order, say hello and thank her.


It took the Whittier College administration less than a week to dupe students into letting the College off the hook for its obligations to its housekeepers. First, community concern for the housekeepers was rebuffed and the natural connection between community members and students on a campus surrounded by that community was effectively severed.

A reporter for the locally-based online news service La Voz de Aztlan was refused admittance to a meeting on campus participated in by student groups including MEChA (the Chicano Student Aztlan Movement), and, when that reporter wanted to talk about being blocked from speaking with students and housekeepers, that reporter was threatened and 'escorted' off campus by Campus Safety officers.

A week later another article by Perez was published by Quaker Campus, which article, in typical Q C manner, mindlessly regurgitates administration claims while denying the other side of a situation input, violates every journalistic standard. Perez makes sure that administrator Ana Lilia Barraza's accusation that the La Voz de Aztlan reporter is a racist - that he "started yelling racial slurs to our staff" - is printed, and makes sure that the accused reporter can't respond. Perez not only declined to locate and interview a La Voz de Aztlan spokesperson, which is really easy to do, but Quaker Campus has blocked that organization from the student paper web site, just as that online news service has been blocked from the Whittier College server. Whittier College student journalists are learning what Whittier College teaches alright, Quaker Campus is now engaging in not only the lowest form of 'journalism', but is also engaging in censorship - on its own!

(Of course, as whittiergate has shown previously, this is sadly hardly a first for Quaker Campus, the student paper refusing to publish open letters from concerned community and even faculty members, knowingly publishing disinformation articles for the administration, declining to investigate cases of injury and other harm done to students, faculty and other employees, the list goes on - shame on this so-called student paper, shame on these so-called student journalists!)

In what is sadly becoming a tradition, whittiergate publishing open letters Whittier College's brave student journalists refuse to print, whether for their cowardice, lack of intelligence, or selling out, follows excerpts from La Voz de Aztlan's open letter Quaker Campus won't print:

"We did send one of our news reporters to your campus to attend the student meeting on the exploitation of Mexican housekeepers at Whittier College. We believed that the issue would be of great interest to the now majority Mexican-American community...in the City of Whittier.

"What our reporter experienced at your college is almost beyond belief. It is apparent to us now that the college administration is making great efforts to keep certain information from getting out to the general community and that is why they expelled our news reporter from your campus.

"When our reporter arrived at the college, he inquired at the Cultural Center on the location of the meeting. Someone must have called Campus Safety because they arrived immediately and conspicuously stationed themselves near the door to the meeting room." "Our reporter was informed by Ana Lilia Barraza that he could not attend the student meeting and that MEChA did not want any reporters at the meeting. Our reporter was skeptical that MEChA leaders would say such a thing and requested to speak with a MEChA representative. Ana Lilia Barraza then said, "What, you don't believe me?" to which our reporter answered, "No." This is when things began going downhill.

"Ana Lilia Barraza said to our reporter that he was not welcome and to get off the campus and made a signal" to an unidentified Black man who "then confronted our reporter and with strong words ordered him to get off campus or else. Since this [unidentifed] person was not in a uniform...looked quite unofficial...our reporter asked Barraza in Spanish, "Quien es este mayate?" at which point he came after our reporter... Barraza stopped him by putting her arm in front of him.

"(The word "mayate" means scarab in Spanish and is a very common term used by Mexicans to describe a Black person with shiny skin. It is similar to the Spanish word "guero" used to describe a White person. There is nothing racist about it.)"

Similarly, "chino" is used by Latinos to indicate that an individual is an Asian, or as a nickname for a Latino whose facial features resemble those of an Asian. It is clearly disingenuous, particularly on the part of a Hispanic individual, to impute any racist sentiment to any Meso-American using such words absent a racist context. The Black male "then signaled to two uniformed Campus Safety officers who escorted our reporter off campus" without incident "denying La Voz de Aztlan the ability to inform our community on what is going on inside the college that affects us."

It turns out that Ana Lilia Barraza is not only a Whittier College administrator, but also the Whittier College MEChA chapter Advisor.

Hmm. Who to believe? A Whittier College administrator burdened by a blatant conflict of interest or a reporter burdened by a concern for the plight of exploited maids? If Whittier College administrators and Quaker Campus had their way, students and College employees would have only administration mouthpieces to believe.

Southern California business owners replaced Black custodial workers, who had already lost better paying auto plant jobs when those plants were closed, with cheaper Latino labor, and Latinos then started buying the South Central homes Blacks could no longer afford. Blacks were compelled to take still lower paying security jobs or move out of the L. A. Basin in search of work. Overwhelmingly White businessmen seeking ever more profit have set Blacks and Latinos against one another, and it takes some real chutzpah to start blaming the inevitable racial tension caused by White greed on the desperate Black and Latino working poor. Divide and conquer comes from an ancient play book, but it is also playing with ancient fire.

The racism in this situation is evidenced by Whittier College, not those concerned about the plight of the College's housekeepers. Whittier College keeps its Campus Safety Chief, African-American Bernard Alex, hidden from the public, while sending the White Assistant Chief John Lewis out as the Campus Safety and on occasion Whittier College spokesperson. The relatively small percentage of Black students, and the harmful exploitation of Latino students recruited as part of the Hispanic-Serving Institutions program scam, at Whittier College show who the racists are here.

Sodexo's exploitation and disrespect for its Latina housekeepers at Whittier College correctly indicates this multinational corporation's racist nature. In 2005, Sodexo agreed to pay $80 million to African-American plaintiffs who filed a lawsuit over the fact that only 18 of 700 upper Sodexo management positions are filled by Blacks, and that none of the top 188 Sodexo executives are Black. Since that settlement, Sodexo has increased Blacks in management positions by a whopping 0.12%; not surprisingly more unfair treatment lawsuits are being filed against Sodexo. Whittier College and Sodexo are ugly birds of a feather.

Whittier College President Sharon Herzberger, who couldn't be bothered or was afraid to attend the housekeepers' situation meeting, then sent those concerned with the College's housekeepers' plight on a snipe hunt while she sat in palatial Wardman House laughing. Herzberger pretends to support the housekeepers and concerned students and blames everything on French multinational Sodexo. The Sodexo contract to supervise Whittier College housekeepers is to run through 2014 and Herzberger would have us believe there's nothing the College can do but wait that contract out. BS!

Whittier College didn't mind paying attorneys to petition a federal district court to censor American Bar Association publications so prospective Whittier Law School students wouldn't learn that the ABA had put Whittier Law School on probation - because so many of its graduates couldn't pass the California Bar Examination - to hide the epidemic of academic misconduct on campus, to try to tear down an historic building, and other causes any liberal arts college should be ashamed to be involved in, but it can't break a contract with a company contracted to supervise, not to exploit and humiliate, the College's housekeepers?!

The truth is that there's not only legal precedent for but, more, a trend by colleges to terminate contracts with Sodexo.

'U C Davis to hire Sodexo food-service employees'
Sacramento Business Journal - April 17, 2008

"The agreement comes almost a year after (student) demonstrators were arrested at Mrak Hall and on a busy downtown Davis street for protesting U C Davis' practice of contracting out food services work." Now former Sodexo workers also received union support from the AFSCME (American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees) Local 3299.

"U C Davis was criticized over the past year for sticking with its labor contractor while other campuses went in the other direction.

"The U C Davis Health System considered, and rejected, a contract with Sodexo for dietary services in 2000. U C Santa Cruz ended its contract with Sodexo four years ago and brought employees in-house. U C Irvine cancelled a contract with another (one of the Big Three) labor contractor, Philadelphia-based Aramark, in September 2006."

Erika E. Perez now reports (see 'Sodexo issue beyond Whittier, concern nationwide' - Quaker Campus, 3-4-10) that Whittier College housekeepers are now grateful for student support that has so far gotten them requested cleaning supplies (the previous lack of which is one of the grounds for breaking the Sodexo contract) and permission to sit on a dorm lounge sofa, if one can be found what with lounges and every nook and cranny having been turned into ad hoc dorm 'rooms' that resemble orphanages more than liberal arts college student accommodations (and the College has announced it's intention to increase enrollment from 1,300 to 1,500! - from reasonable accommodations and graduating in 4 years to sardines and having so much trouble getting needed let alone desired classes, both vital to a higher education, that luck is needed to graduate in 5 - 6 years).

And Whittier College MEChA chapter members need to get in touch with what that organization is dedicated to and dump Ana Lilia Barraza and find an advisor without a conflict of interest, who won't mislead you and sell you out whenever she's told to do so by those paying her and pulling her strings. All students need to understand that they can accomplish nothing alone, that students and workers from the larger community must act in concert to accomplish shared goals.

And all Whittier College students, but naturally especially Latinos, and most of all Upward Bound and AVID and other working poor students recruited by the College, need to stop believing that you have to learn to fit in with this private liberal arts college's creepy lack of morality and ethics, and its disregard for the spirit as well as letter of the law, by turning your backs on the working poor, the salt of the earth, your brothers and sisters. It's only becoming truer and truer that "a working class hero is something to be" in this country. It sure beats becoming another disgrace, another ex-con, like an infamous Whittier College president.

Whittier College has recruited Latinos because if they don't the College is going to be busted for defrauding the federal Hispanic-Serving Institutions program and because Whittier College is "a tuition driven college. As more students come there will be more revenue," as Sharon Herzberger admits. There's a reason why it's called a Diversity Scam.

Whittier College started pretending to be into diversity when it was about to go out of business because its enrollment was flagging, not out of altruism, not out of any heartfelt commitment to diversity. Your parents may believe they're lucky to move into a rundown suburb that Whites are leaving, and you evidently feel lucky to be at Whittier College, a school that has already seen its best days. How is making a Tio Tomas of yourself bettering yourself? At least our housekeepers know they're being exploited and disrespected, and are trying to do right those wrongs; Whittier College students, who are also being exploited and disrespected, obviously have a lot to learn from their housekeepers.

Speaking of scams, let's take a look at Sodexo... Sodexo, the 22nd largest corporation in the world, now has 380,000 workers, about one-third of them in North America, in 80 countries. From its beginning managing maritime service workers, Sodexo has diversified into food, housekeeping, and maintenance services to schools, hospitals and clinics, the military, and penal institutions, and into construction and other fields.

In addition to thousands of contracts with schools, hospitals and clinics, and government agencies, Sodexo is the largest investor in this country's private prison industry, holding 17% of CCA (Corrections Corporation of America) stock, more than any other investor. As though that weren't sinister enough, Sodexo is also a member and sponsor of the American Legislative Exchange Council that lobbies for prison privatization and get tough on crime legislation. The U. S. prison population increased from 1.1 million in 1991 to 2 million in 2000.

Sodexo is also involved with over 90 prisons in the U. K., France, Spain, Italy, Portugal, the Netherlands, and Australia, and operates five prisons in Chile.

Sodexo is a war profiteer, raking in hundreds of millions of dollars from providing shoddy yet overpriced services contracted by the U. S. military. whittiergate hasn't completed research on Sodexo's declared political contributions, but we have already confirmed tens of thousands of dollars in contributions in the United States alone.

Mitch Ackerman, a SEIU executive officer, explains, "Typically...U. S. Sodexo workers earn between $8.27 and $10.54 per hour...because of unpaid summer and holiday breaks, many...workers are only allowed to work around 38 weeks per year - which would mean they are making a paltry $12,500 - $16,000 per year. This means that a Sodexo employee working year-round and making $8.27 per hour would have to pay over one-quarter of...her annual income to afford the HMO health insurance plan that Sodexo offers."

Sodexo's mistreatment of its workers and inclination to ruthlessly control them are beginning to come out as exploited workers seek to unionize to protect themselves from straw bosses zealously implementing offensive company policies (that don't bother this Whittier College administration even a little bit).:


Sodexo's exploitation of workers on the supply side are every bit as reprehensible as that of their service workers. Farmworkers and their student allies have chosen to focus on three corporations - Sodexo, Aramark, and Compass - because "they dominate the on-campus dining services industry through contracts with thousands of higher education institutions.

"...low-cost, high volume purchasing practices...create conditions in the fields where poverty wages and other human rights abuses flourish."

'Farmworkers 'Fair Food' campaign targets Sodexo'
'Florida farmworkers comfront Sodexo greenwash at national food conference'

Sodexo has also been pilloried for the environmental damage it wreaks in pursuit of profits. Sodexo's clearing of a reported 35 hectares of Nigerian mangrove forest the corporation found inconvenient in its servicing a gas line project destroyed both the local environment and the livelihoods of local residents.

As for the bottom line, Sodexo's modus operandi is fundamentally illegal and ensures that consumers of its services will be short changed if not seriously harmed.

"Documents show that demanding rebates (kickbacks) is at the heart of Sodexo's business plan.

"Food service companies buy products from vendors that pay bigger rebates - or kickbacks - rather than those that offer cheaper, locally grown or higher quality food."

'Cafeteria Kickbacks: How food service providers like Sodexo bilk millions from taxpayers and customers' by Lucy Komisar:

The results?

According to the Washington Post, Sodexo served E Coli-contaminated meat to Boy Scouts at a campground in Goshen, Virginia. 25 people were sickened. On Scout was hospitalized with hemolytic uremic syndrome, which is caused by the E Coli toxin entering the bloodstream, which can cause kidney failiure.

After learning that Sodexo had kept quiet about repeatedly failing health inspections (chicken and tuna improperly stored, an insect in a sandwich, etc.), the Suffolk University student paper published an expose, and students then organized a forum they called 'Sodexo Needs to Go'.

The USDA caused Sodexo to recall nearly 3,000 pounds of chicken products contaminated by Listeria monocytogenes at a Tennessee facility leased by Sodexo - only three weeks after Sodexo had reassured the Tennessee Department of Agriculture that the corporation had taken care of a rodent infestation of that facility.

Sodexo sent tainted chicken to the Northwest Correctional Complex in Tennessee.

Sodexo also sent tainted chicken to two U. S. Marine Corps facilities, Camp Pendleton and the USMC Recruitment Depot in San Diego.

Students at the Birdsboro Elementary Center in Berks County, Pennsylvania were made ill by milk contaminated by a container cleaning agent that leached into the milk.

And in Louisiana, Sodexo served spoiled milk to students at New Orleans College Prep, and sickened students at John McDonogh Senior High School with moldy orange juice.

It is deeply disturbing that Whittier College finds concern for the College's housekeepers a motivation for censorship and disinformation, and the multinational corporation exploiting them a partner the College can work with, even though the College can terminate the contract between them and hire our housekeepers any time it decides to do so.

While signing the petition supporting the housekeepers in their protracted struggle against Sodexo is good, circulating, signing, and presenting a petition to Sharon Herzberger and the Trustees of Whittier College telling the College we all know the contract with Sodexo can and should be terminated without delay so that the College can directly hire its housekeepers is far, far, far better. Indeed, this is Gabriel Papa's last chance to break the mould and make himself memorable in Whittier College annals - and for the right and good reasons.

City of Whittier Elections

Whittier College is hand-in-glove with the City of Whittier and both are corrupt and corrupting. The City of Whittier city council is composed of four White males and one White female. What's wrong with this? The City of Whittier is a majority Latino city! The last mayor was employed by Whittier College. The new mayor is an attorney with Bewley, Lassleben & Miller, formerly Bewley & Nixon. Whittier College's Attorney, and also a Trustee, is Ernie Z. Park, also an attorney with Bewley, Lassleben & Miller.

Whittier College students (are compelled by the College to) live the majority of the year in the City of Whittier. Register to vote in the local elections that most impact your lives. Work on the campaigns of candidates who are not corrupt. Regarding the upcoming City of Whittier election, Alex Morales has resigned his seat on the local school board to run for city council. Volunteer for Alex Morales' campaign. Vote for Alex Morales if you can. And prepare for the next City of Whittier election. Register to vote in Whittier. Volunteer for the campaigns of legitimate Latino candidates.

Learn how minority White politicians are excluding Latinos, the majority of citizens in this community, from meaningful participation in their own governance, which is as anti-American as politics can be, and do something about it. Not only campaigning and voting are necessary, but also ballot boxes need to be kept in sight of election monitors from polling station through counting and publication of results.

And realize that Whittier College lies within the city limits of Whittier, is subject to City of Whittier rules, regulations, and laws. Why do you think this Whittier College administration has acted so quickly and decisively to keep students separated from local Latino community activists?

It's said that those who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones. Whittier College and the City of Whittier are racist, you're living the majority of the year in a glass house. Get involved with your community. Make yourselves part of building a sound house of which you can be genuinely proud. Despite this corrupt school and community, learn here how to make a difference. If you don't, the only thing you're going to take from Whittier College and the City of Whittier is how to be a cowardly sellout. Wake up! Question authority! Think globally and act locally! So many slogans - that can be given meaning only by you, by your actions...


Quaker Campus has published an open letter from Sodexo's district manager lickspittle Chris Thomas ("lies, damned lies, and statistics"), another article by Erika E. Perez ('Unaddressed Sodexo issues leftover: Housekeepers respond to Sodexo claims'), and an Opinion by Neal Behrendt ('Sodexo, a universal problem: Strengthen moral character by opposing Sodexo'), in the paper's 3/11/10 issue.

Chris Thomas letter quibbles, attacks the Service Employees International Union (for being dishonest - talk about the pot calling the kettle black!), and makes one want to suggest Sodexo eliminate Thomas' spin gig and redistribute his salary among workers, like the College's housekeepers, who work hard making an honest living.

Erika Perez, while providing a counterweight to Sodexo's spin has clearly been Quixoted, but does let our housekeepers speak their truth to Sodexo's spin. But Sharon Herzberger is still smugly relaxing in Wardman House; after all, labor has been struggling against capital since the first division of labor and surpluses.

The very title 'Unaddressed Sodexo issues leftover' suggests Perez has not the slightest comprehension of a protracted struggle. Again, the housekeepers, in their willingness to engage in what they know is, if they're lucky, a protracted struggle, reveal a character that can only be instructive for this most spoiled generation that will soon enough ironically face one of history's most protracted challenges. Erika, if you all don't get that the housekeeper petition went to the wrong party, Sodexo instead of the Whittier College administration and Trustees, then your life is going to be extraordinarily difficult.

Neal Behrendt, one of the very best writers on the paper staff this past decade, doesn't have much to say between a great title and conclusion, but what a title and what a conclusion: "I think we should all consider devoting time and helping people whose entire workday revolves around us." Damn skippy, Neal. But what to do exactly? Draft, circulate, and present a new petition, and relentlessly pressure this administration and the College's Trustees, to terminate the Sodexo contract and directly hire our housekeepers!

Meanwhile, Sodexo has contributed tens of thousands of dollars to the Presbyterian Intercommunity Hospital Foundation even as Whittier College has torn out its student friendly health service and replaced it with PIH and its health business model, which means lower quality care but greater expense for students. After getting to know Sodexo, as we've gotten to know Whittier College, there may be something rotten in Denmark, but there is certainly something rotten in Whittier - and whittiergate is going to find out just what that is...


The SEIU has shown it can organize workers - young union staffers' enthusiasm proves highly contagious among politically inexperienced genuinely oppressed workers - but then what? A cynic would say that the SEIU is using this College's housekeepers as some of many, many pawns in this union's much larger and protracted struggle against Sodexo. The generous observer would suggest the SEIU organizational scheme is flawed in that its young enthusiastic organizers are, ironically enough like Sodexo employees, powerless and can be fired for not doing what they're told to do when and how they're told to do it. So the resulting SEIU field staff disillusionment and high turnover makes it difficult for this union to act flexibly or to generate and maintain decisive local campaign momentum, even when the tactics are right.

After two years of exposure to pressures arising from standing up for themselves, on top of the pressures they face day after day as underpaid, inadequately supplied, overworked, and practically uninsured workers, these housekeepers have nothing substantial to show for their added suffering. The campaign for these workers' deserved betterment, whittiergate repeats, and evidently this can't be repeated too many times, must shift its focus from Sodexo to Whittier College to be a quick success.

The SEIU's larger campaign to unionize Sodexo workers would benefit by compelling Whittier College to terminate its contract with Sodexo, and Whittier College's housekeepers would benefit dramatically by being rehired by this College. Whittier College would benefit immeasurably by making a correct decision for a change, and even Sodexo would benefit by the message that workers in this country cannot be disrespected and mistreated without consequences for the offending employer.

The SEIU, however, has stuck with its mischarted local course that has made these housekeepers' situation even worse emotionally while not substantially improving their working conditions or benefits. A SEIU spokesperson, when questioned as to why this union has not shifted its local campaign focus from Sodexo to Whittier College, claims President Sharon Herzberger refuses to speak with SEIU reps. Excuse us, isn't this just what local campaigns are supposed to achieve, through petitions, educational outreach, pickets, demonstrations, and work stoppages, compelling those who don't want to talk with union reps to have to do so anyway?

Let's be clear about these housekeepers' position: If their union continues to tilt at the Sodexo windmill, there's going to be no substantial change for these workers for years if ever. Two years have already passed since enthusiastic SEIU staffers persuaded these housekeepers to agree to the SEIU representing them, and nothing substantial has yet been achieved for these service workers. But, if these workers' union shifts the focus of this local campaign from Sodexo to Whittier College, these housekeepers can win back the respect and acceptable working conditions and benefits they deserve, and do so very quickly.

Again, there is a successful role model for a campus service workers-union-students alliance campaign to terminate a Sodexo contract and rehire campus service workers, this was accomplished at U C Davis, a much more formidable challenge than taking on little Whittier College. So why can't the SEIU seem to comprehend or embrace or carry out this tactical shift? Sharon Herzberger won't talk with SEIU reps? We're sure Sharon won't talk - until the SEIU together with these housekeepers and students compel her to do so...

Meanwhile, Herzberger and Whittier College continue to profit a little by Sodexo's medieval exploitation of our housekeepers, while continuing to evade responsibility for their decision to sell these workers out to Sodexo by its usual Whittier College modus operandi, lying and stonewalling.

Sharon Herzberger is reported, by Erika Perez in her Quaker Campus article 'Herzberger comments on Sodexo conflict' (http://www.quakercampus.com/node/402), to be claiming that she has personally talked with this College's housekeepers and that some of them "tell me they are quite happy and satisfied, believing they are treated well." Sharon, name these housekeepers! Erika Perez, thank you for writing this article, but how could you not pursue this Whittierspeak big fat one right over the plate by Sharon Herzberger and knock it out of the park?!

Sharon Herzberger and the Whittier College trustees are not appalled by Sodexo's disregard for and exploitation of our housekeepers, these Whittier decision-makers have known all along what the results for these housekeepers would be once this College sold them out. And this College can rectify this stone cold decision and consequent harsh reality by simply terminating its contract with Sodexo (and any Whittierspeak to the effect that this contract can't be terminated is ridiculously, offensively, wrong), yet choose instead to not only refuse to intervene on these workers' behalves but even worse work hand-in-glove, tongue-in-cheek, with Sodexo to ensure the continued disrespect and exploitation of these housekeepers - that was the idea in the first place, and for a very small savings. One's reluctant to wonder what this school would do if a lot of money were involved...

Whittier College plays dumb, this College sold these workers out in the first place. Sodexo plays dumb -because that multi-national corporation's making money exploiting these housekeepers. The SEIU plays dumb because they want to represent these workers and use them in the union's fight with Sodexo. These housekeepers were first sold out by the College to be exploited by Sodexo, and are now kept in the dark by their union. These housekeepers haven't even been informed that there is a simple time-efficient way for them to get what they deserve - by changing the focus from Sodexo to Whittier College. These service workers are laboring under the false impression that there has to be a subcontractor between service workers and the college, when this College can terminate its contract with Sodexo and rehire these housekeepers anytime it wants or is compelled to do so.

"Doesn't anyone notice this?! I feel like I'm taking crazy pills!" - Jacobim Mugatu

At the end of the day, one must ask where Whittier College students have been all this time, for the past two years, especially the Latino students on this campus? This College's housekeepers could be your own grandmothers! WTF is wrong with you?! Shame on you!! This country doesn't have enough honest hard-working people, like our housekeepers, but we have far too many self-destructive narcissistic people, including most Whittier College students, and especially working class Latino students suffering from more spoiled White kid envy. You're complete disgraces to your families, barrios, heritage, and your own wasted potentials. Asian and Black students better not miss the fact that at Whittier the fundamental question is where else but in upholding minority interests do your find your own supported? And for those of you White students who pretend to believe Whittier's P C BS, to not support this College's housekeepers is to give the lie to that pretense; do something to help these housekeepers, or clean up your own sh*t.

Quaker Campus needs to investigate the financial and business aspects of the contract between Whittier College and Sodexo, and the in-house discussions resulting in this contract... This is the kind of background story this campus expects from you student journalists getting those big bucks ( - some aren't getting any, and all think you should earn what you do get...), and another story comparing the realities of housekeepers who worked for this College in the past and those who now answer to Sodexo, and yet another detailing how campus service workers together with a union and students at U C Davis compelled that major campus to terminate its contract with Sodexo and directly hire those service workers. Stop playing dumb, Q C. Get us the information and context we need to make the best decisions and do the right things.

During this coming summer you all take honest looks in your mirrors, cry out your disappointment in yourselves and resolve to make justly proud young men and women of yourselves, then return to campus next fall and compel this College to terminate its contract with Sodexo and rehire these housekeepers and treat them with the respect and extend to them the benefits they deserve. Then you'll be able to look in your mirrors and not lie to yourselves or weep, and those moments you'll find to be not only a change but more truly priceless. It doesn't take the USMC to make you all you can be, that's something only you can do - for yourself through service to those in need.

Support Whittier College's Housekeepers !