The Oberlin Review

A socially-distanced parade lined up on Aug. 15 to say goodbye to all workers who were laid off due to outsourcing of custodial and dining services.

College and UAW Reach Severance Agreement, UAW Drops Labor Charge

September 4, 2020

After negotiating the post-employment terms for outsourcing 108 dining and custodial employees, the College and the United Auto Workers union have settled on a transition agreement that includes three months severance pay and one year of health insurance. Additionally, the UAW has dropped the charge it brought to the National Labor Relations Board on July 3, which accused the College of negotiating in bad faith.  The effects bargaining process officially ended Aug. 3. In addition to the health ...

College’s Final UAW Offer Contradicted Union’s Purpose

James Monroe Professor of Politics Chris Howell

July 30, 2020

Editor’s Note: This statement was originally sent in an email from James Monroe Professor of Politics Chris Howell to faculty on July 3, before it was posted on the Oberlin Beyond Austerity’s Facebook page on July 6. Trustee Charles S. Birenbaum, OC ’79, wrote a response to this letter which can be read here. Read more of the Review’s coverage of the plan to outsource UAW employees here.    Colleagues, In a book that I assign in one of my labor classes, Thomas Geoghagen, a Chicago-based labor lawyer, argues that trade unions and collective bargaining are more alien to most Americans than Abbie Hoffman and the Yippies. Unions operate by seemingly arcane rules, are heavily regulated by law, priv...

Howell Draws Improper Conclusion in UAW Statement

Trustee Charles S. Birenbaum, OC ’79

July 30, 2020

Editor’s Note: A longer version of this analysis appeared on the Alumni Facebook page on July 9 in response to James Monroe Professor of Politics Chris Howell’s statement. Read more of the Review’s coverage of UAW outsourcing here.    When I reviewed a commentary from James Monroe Professor of Politics Chris Howell on Oberlin College’s collective bargaining with United Auto Workers-represented dining and custodial employees, I admired how the intellectual curtain could be drawn over the complex area of labor-management relations to fuzz the realities. He conflates subcontracting and outsourcing with being anti-union with no evidence of union animus, and he holds the parties to a view of collecti...

UAW Leadership Calls Outsourcing Plan Inconsistent with College’s Racial Justice Values

UAW 2192 Leadership Team

June 12, 2020

To Oberlin College, Historically, the United Auto Workers union has played an important role in pioneering civil rights and freedoms in and out of the workplace. The UAW has walked hand in hand with civil rights leaders and the civil rights movement — from helping fund the Montgomery bus boycott and the march from Selma to Montgomery to providing an office at the Solidarity House for Martin Luther King Jr., where he penned his “I Have a Dream” speech. The UAW was also there to post bail for Dr. King’s release in 1963 from a Birmingham City Jail. That is what the UAW stands for.  In a recent email from President Ambar where she spoke from the heart about the black community, she mentioned that “Oberlin ...

Students, staff, and community members rally at Wilder last week in support of union jobs at Oberlin.

Students Discuss UAW Concerns with Trustees

March 13, 2020

Student activists met with members of the Board of Trustees last week to denounce the College’s announcement that they are considering outsourcing up to 108 United Auto Worker jobs. In the meeting, students expressed their concerns and presented petitions that had been signed by students, alumni, and the broader Oberlin community. Elsa Schlensker, College fourth-year and chair of the Student Labor Action Coalition, was one of the students who presented. “The overall message that students h...

Rapid Response Team Debuts at UAW-Related Protests

Rapid Response Team Debuts at UAW-Related Protests

February 28, 2020

President Carmen Twillie Ambar’s Feb. 18 announcement that the College is formally considering outsourcing 108 dining and custodial jobs currently held by United Automobile Worker union members incited a campus-wide conversation and student-led protests and demonstrations. As activism in support of UAW continues, the College is in the midst of considering how best to approach its relationship with student activists. One approach taken by the Division of Student Life is to assemble a Rapid Res...

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