The Oberlin Review

Oberlin Community Should Appreciate Ambar’s Honesty

Jeff Witmer, Professor of Mathematics

February 21, 2020

Last week, my son lost his job — through no fault of his own. New management told several workers that the company couldn't afford to keep them. So after three weeks’ notice, my son is now applying for unemployment payments and looking for a new job. This heightens my sympathy for workers affected by President Carmen Twillie Ambar's announcement.   These are difficult times for the College, which has a very real budget problem affecting all employee groups, although unequally. Given her decision to focus on the core mission of the school and to explore savings by reducing compensation for some unionized workers, President Ambar might have waited until after Commencement/Reunion Weekend to announce her plans. I'm sur...

Oberlin Has Pursued Policy of Hostility Towards Workers

Jeanne Morefield, OC ’91

February 21, 2020

I am an academic in the United Kingdom, and next week, my colleagues in the University and College Union and I — at 74 universities across the country — are striking for better working conditions. I am grateful every day that I have a union so that I don't have to depend upon the whims and empty promises of colleges and universities to do right by their employees. And now, in a complete violation of everything that has ever made Oberlin unique and powerful as an institution, President Carmen Twillie Ambar is posed to deny that basic right to many employees currently on Oberlin’s campus.   This is not about fiscal responsibility. This is about breaking the union and about the imposition of unnecessary, Shock Doctrin...

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...

Campus Dining Services workers and students in Stevenson Dining Hall, Oberlin’s largest dining facility. Students recently circulated a petition calling for better conditions in CDS and asking the administration to cut ties with the College’s dining management company, Bon Appétit.

Students, Testimonial Project Call for CDS Changes

May 11, 2018

Editor’s Note: The petition and the link to the testimonials mentioned in this article can be found in the Opinions section of The Oberlin Review. College students are circulating a petition calling on Oberlin’s administration to sever ties with the current dining management company, Bon Appétit, and switch to a self-managed system. The petition focuses on an array of problems with Bon Appétit, citing the company’s poor management, food waste, and safety issues. The petition, which has ...

DeCafé employee Allison Trimble hands back a student’s ID after swiping at the cash register. Five CDS UAW employees will be let go at the end of the semester due to Dascomb Dining Hall’s closure and other changes in CDS.

Unionized Staff Cuts Follow Dascomb Closure

April 13, 2018

Campus dining staff first learned of Dascomb Dining Hall’s impending closure at President Carmen Ambar’s respective financial presentation. Currently, 19 members of the United Auto Workers — the union that represents Campus Dining Services, custodial, and facilities staff — work in Dascomb, in addition to between 50 and 75 non-union, non-student workers. Although workers had expressed anxiety over what Dascomb’s closure would mean for their job security, it wasn’t until a week ago th...

College Launches New Buyout Directed Toward Faculty

Gabby Greene

November 10, 2017

The College sent a memo to all faculty members announcing the launch of a new buyout last Tuesday. Unlike the 2016 program — the Voluntary Separation Incentive Package, which was directed at all College employees — the incoming buyout is only open to faculty. The new VSIP means that the College will offer lump-sum payments to fully tenured faculty in return for their voluntary departure. While Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Tim Elgren does not know how many faculty will accept the buyout or how much money the buyout will save, he believes it will not only save the school money, but will also have a larger success rate than the 2016 VSIP. “Restructuring it in a way that makes sense for faculty,...

Students participate in Monday’s Student Labor Action Coalition-led boycott of Bon Appétit Management Company. The dining halls served only a fraction of the students they normally do in light of demands that the College switch to in-house management.

Students, CDS Workers Protest Bon Appétit

May 5, 2017

Dining halls across campus were unusually empty Monday as hundreds boycotted Bon Appétit Management Company to stand in solidarity with Campus Dining Services staff. The protest, initiated by the Student Labor Action Coalition, aimed to push the College to separate from Bon Appétit and switch to a self-management food service model. According to United Auto Worker steward and CDS grill cook, counter cook and cashier Denise Capers, Stevenson and Dascomb Dining Halls normally serve 600–800 and 50...

Jeff  Mazze at Mudd library is one of the remaining custodial staff  members after many took the College's staff  buyout program. Twenty-one members of his union, UAW, left their positions at the end of 2016.

Administrators, Unions at Odds on Cuts

February 10, 2017

In the aftermath of the College’s campus-wide staff buyout program, custodians, administrative assistants and Campus Dining Service workers face insecurity and have voiced concern over the continual elimination of staff positions and potential work overload. Last spring, the administration created the Voluntary Separation Incentive Program, which was intended to save the College money by replacing veteran staff members with younger, lower-salary employees. VSIP grants each outgoing employee...

Ann Backey, an employee of the Bon Appétit Management Company, serves pasta at Stevenson Dining Hall. Campus Dining Services has recently suffered from understaffing problems, and some employees say they feel very overworked.

CDS Workers: We’re Overworked, Disrespected

October 2, 2015

The Lord-Saunders Dining Hall did not open for dinner on Sunday night, and some stations in Stevenson Dining Hall went unfilled. While the closures may have been nothing more than a minor inconvenience for students, they point to larger problems: severe understaffing in Campus Dining Services and a general sense among some workers that Bon Appétit Management Company pushes them to the limit and does not give them enough respect. According to Director of Dining Services Michele Gross, CDS is...

Two facilities workers complete a work order. The College and the UAW have been at loggerheads
over an administrative proposal to record how long facilities workers spend completing work orders.

UAW, College Gridlocked Over Contract

September 25, 2015

The United Auto Workers, the labor union that represents facilities workers, is clashing with Oberlin College over proposed procedural changes. The College’s plan would levy a more rigid time-evaluation system onto UAW employees, which some workers say could result in unfair penalties. “If you have an assignment that takes on average 30 minutes and someone is taking three days to do it, that’s a problem,” Oberlin UAW Chairman Milton Wyman said. “But if you take 45 minutes, and I take 30 ...

Established 1874.