The Oberlin Review

College Implements Telecommuting Policies in Response to COVID-19

Katherine MacPhail, Editor-in-Chief

April 10, 2020

In coordination with local public health authorities, the College has drastically limited the number of employees on campus and developed new telecommuting policies in response to the local outbreak of COVID-19. Employees working from home have been asked to sign a Remote Work Agreement in which they commit to being available by phone or email during core work hours. Employees who still work on campus have been instructed to stay home if they have a temperature of over 100.4 degrees or otherwise feel ill. The College has also, in some cases, implemented a rotation strategy for employees who work remotely but come to campus periodically to complete essential tasks.  These policies were developed last month in antici...

OCOPE Resolution in Support of UAW

Julie Weir, President, OCOPE Reference & Academic Commons Assistant

March 13, 2020

We, the members of Oberlin College Office and Professional Employees International Union Local 502, stand in solidarity with our United Automobile Workers union brothers and sisters, and we wholeheartedly support them in their fight to preserve their jobs and the dignity of labor at Oberlin College. We strongly condemn the administration’s plan to lay off unionized custodial and food service workers and to replace them with outsourced labor, and we oppose any union-busting techniques. Furthermore, we are convinced that Oberlin’s future is best secured when the College treats all of its workers like the valuable members of the campus community they are — rather than as expendable units of labor.  ...

Updated OCOPE Contract to be Published Online

Katie Lucey, News Editor

November 1, 2019

Oberlin College Office and Professional Employees will soon publish an updated union contract following negotiations with the College. OCOPE leadership confirmed that language used in the updated contract was ratified on Oct. 2, although the contract in its entirety has not yet been finalized and approved. “We’re currently proofreading the contract, and hope to get it finalized very soon,” Diane Lee, president of OCOPE and interlibrary loan supervisor, wrote in an email to the Review. OCOPE first signed a contract with the College in 1971, ensuring benefits and establishing more transparent human resources policies for union members. Negotiations occur every three years, with the two most recent discussions...

CDS workers prepare pizzas in the Wilder DeCafé. Hourly employees continue to express concerns over the impacts of the AAPR recommendations.

Hourly Workers Maintain AAPR Concerns

May 10, 2019

Tensions remain high between Oberlin’s unionized hourly workers and the Academic and Administrative Program Review steering committee. After weeks of collecting community feedback, the committee is wrapping up its work and preparing to submit its final recommendations to President Carmen Twillie Ambar at the end of this semester. Many constituent groups have endorsed the AAPR’s recommendations. Last week, the Educational Plans and Policies Committee, the Educational Policy Committee, the College F...

Oberlin Community members gathered for a public forum in King 306 yesterday to express thoughts and concerns about the AAPR recommendations

AAPR Unveils Draft of Final Recommendations

May 3, 2019

On Monday, the steering committee of the Academic and Administrative Program Review released a public draft of its final recommendations that will be submitted to President Carmen Twillie Ambar at the end of this semester. The draft, a 59-page document expanding on the initial areas of recommendation made public in March, was the subject of a well-attended public forum yesterday. According to Acting Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and AAPR Chair David Kamitsuka, the draft was informed by feedb...

College plumber and United Auto Workers member Tom Wright works in Facilities Operations on campus

AAPR Prompts Concern Among Union Supporters

April 12, 2019

Oberlin is considering eliminating over 50 staff lines — a decision which could impact up to 40 current employees — as part of the Academic and Administrative Program Review. This is part of just one of the AAPR steering committee’s areas of recommendation meant to address Oberlin’s structural budget deficit. The steering committee referenced Oberlin’s exorbitant employee costs as a reason for the area of recommendation, claiming that 63 percent of Oberlin’s operating budget goes toward em...

OCOPE Files Grievances Against College

Jenna Gyimesi, News Editor

September 28, 2018

The Oberlin College Office and Professional Employees union has filed multiple grievances against the College. OCOPE claims the College violated their contract by eliminating or reducing union jobs and then assigning the work to outside companies or non-union members. Earlier this year, the College was found to be in violation of OCOPE’s collective bargaining agreement following an arbitration process with the National Labor Relations Board. If the newly-filed grievances reach the level of arbitration, it will be the second time in two years that OCOPE has brought the College to a hearing. OCOPE represents approximately 170 employees. Within the year, three OCOPE positions have been eliminated — a building ser...

Tracy Tucker, the Oberlin College Office and Professional Employees Union President, reviews the mutual bargaining agreement signed by both the College and OCOPE. OCOPE recently won a settlement against the College for violating the contract.

NLRB Sides With OCOPE in Suit Against College

April 20, 2018

The Oberlin College Office and Professional Employees union recently won a suit against the College with the National Labor Relations Board. The charges, filed in January, claimed that the College violated their mutually agreed-upon collective bargaining agreement by placing temporary workers, who make $14 an hour and receive no employment benefits or insurance, in OCOPE positions longer than is stipulated in the contract. The NLRB found the College in violation of the contract during arbitration. ...

College Should Have Avoided Union Violations

Phyllis J. Jones

April 20, 2018

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 undoub...

Union Victory Provides Dignity to All Workers

Chris Howell

April 13, 2018

To the Editors: One of the dispiriting things about Oberlin College is the disjunction between the analytical tools and burning social justice values that we teach and discuss in class, and the application of those same tools and values when it comes to the largely invisible labor performed by workers at the College. This is an institution that would collapse without its custodians, administrative assistants, dining hall workers, librarians, and the myriad other workers who allow the school to function. We are attuned to manifestations of power in its most fine, capillary forms, to privilege and microaggression in language and glance, as we should be. But when it comes to these workers, we are all suddenly neoliberals...

OCOPE Resolutions Indicate Larger Issues in Community

Tracy Tucker

April 13, 2018

To the Editors: Many people have asked what caused Oberlin College Office and Professional Employees to file charges with the National Labor Relations Board and take grievances to arbitration. Simply put, these actions were taken to protect the contractual rights of administrative assistants on campus. Oberlin College refused to adhere to long-standing policies and practices that were agreed upon and included in the OCOPE-Oberlin College contract years ago. Some of the disputed matters include hiring procedures, assigning administrative assistant work to non-bargaining unit positions, and refusing to provide information necessary for OCOPE to properly administer the contract and represent members. Language in the contra...

Chemistry Hiring Delays Favor Temps

Michael B. Palazzolo, OCOPE Personnel Coordinator

April 21, 2017

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 what...

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