To President Carmen Twillie Ambar,
We, the more than 20,000 members of the Ohio Federation of Teachers, stand in solidarity with our United Auto Workers brothers and sisters targeted for outsourcing at Oberlin College. Outsourcing more than 100 union workers in order to avoid paying health benefits is morally bankrupt in the best of times, but to do so during a global pandemic is absolutely unconscionable. Furthermore, union busting is especially egregious for an institution that markets its progressive history to draw students.
As teachers, we know that the working conditions of the employees who make our schools run, whether that be custodians or food service providers, directly influence the ability of students to learn. As such, Oberlin’s outsourcing of unionized dining services and custodial labor, resulting in substantially poorer wages and benefits for these workers, represents a serious blow to Oberlin students’ ability to learn safely and effectively at their institution.
Oberlin must sit down with UAW leadership and negotiate in good faith rather than use the effects of this pandemic as an excuse to avoid fair, necessary negotiations and to expedite their outsourcing of labor. Oberlin chose to enter into negotiations with UAW and has an obligation to see them through, especially given the heightened economic risk faced by union members in this time of crisis.