Chemistry Hiring Delays Favor Temps

Michael B. Palazzolo, OCOPE Personnel Coordinator

As a longtime member of Oberlin College Office and Professional Employees, Office and Professional Employees International Union, local 502, I would like to express my dismay at how the recent search for a new administrative assistant for the Chemistry department has been handled. Not only was the posting of the position unnecessarily delayed for many months, contrary to language in the contract between the College and the Union, but the internal candidates for the position were misinformed about certain parameters of the job during the interviews, necessitating the reposting of the position and further delaying the process. Could it be that the rumors are true, that the Chemistry department will do whatever they want, including violating the contract and the rights of OCOPE members, to keep the temp for as long as they want? I do not wish to cast any aspersions on the good name of the worker who is temping in the Chemistry department. I knew her when she worked in Mudd library as an undergraduate, and she bears no culpability in this matter.

Oberlin College and its lawyers negotiated a contract with the members of OCOPE. Every word in that contract was thoroughly vetted and approved by the College administrators and lawyers, and both sides agreed to the contract and signed it. I understand completely that the business of the College must continue, but the agreement that the College negotiated and signed with a group of its employees must also be upheld. When one party in an agreement decides that it can disregard with impunity a mutually agreed upon contract, it is making a powerful statement. Does Oberlin College really wish to say that its word means nothing, that when it signs a contract or an agreement it cannot be relied upon to uphold its end of the bargain?

The current delays concerning the Chemistry department position smack of incompetence or deliberate delay tactics. The deans and managers of Oberlin College have shown little evidence to OCOPE that they are willing to apprise and inform supervisors of the parameters under which an important group of employees of this institution work or of their responsibilities with regards to job searches and management of employees in general. It is not sufficient for HR and the College attorney to enter into an agreement if the supervisors who must also administer that agreement are not informed of the details of the agreement or choose to ignore those details with impunity and negatively impact the ways in which they interact on a daily basis with employees.

The delay of the hiring process has been blamed on OCOPE in a number of meetings. OCOPE requested a statement from the College explaining that the delay was caused by the department chairs not interviewing in a timely fashion with total disregard to the terms of our collective bargaining agreement. That has not yet happened.

– Michael B. Palazzolo

OCOPE Personnel Coordinator