College Should Have Avoided Union Violations

To the Editors:

Nearly 50 years ago, a group of Oberlin office and library workers showed the courage and foresight to organize a new labor union on campus, Oberlin College Office and Professional Employees, to address the glaring inequities they faced as employees. Today, OCOPE continues to play an essential role in bringing economic justice to its 164 members.

In early 2017, OCOPE filed charges on the basis of unfair labor practice with the National Labor Relations Board, whose recently-issued decision ruled in favor of the union. Furthermore, an arbitration heard this past December also found that the College had violated its contract with OCOPE. Labor disputes are costly for both sides, and the College has undoubtedly spent a significant sum of money in mounting its defense.

Oberlin’s administration has announced that the College currently faces a major financial crisis, dwarfing practically every other campus concern. In failing to honor the union contract, the administration has exacerbated rather than alleviated Oberlin’s financial woes. If they had only done the right thing all along, the College might have been spared the embarrassment of this expensive contradiction.