The Oberlin Review

College Outsources Custodial and Dining, UAW Charges College with Negotiating in Bad Faith

College Outsources Custodial and Dining, UAW Charges College with Negotiating in Bad Faith

July 24, 2020

After outsourcing 108 dining and custodial positions, the College and the United Auto Workers union will begin effects bargaining to negotiate post-employment terms. Meanwhile, the National Labor Relations Board will investigate the UAW’s July 3 charge alleging that the College negotiated the outsource in bad faith. On June 22, the College decided to outsource dining positions to AVI Fresh and gave the UAW a final proposal for custodial workers. A week later, UAW leadership opted against brin...

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.  ...

Oberlin Has Transparency Problems

Les Leopold, OC ’69

March 13, 2020

Oberlin College’s administration claims that contracting out 108 union dining and maintenance jobs will save over $2 million a year. But where is the evidence for this claim? Good governance requires full transparency so that all the stakeholders impacted have the information needed to evaluate such dire actions as well as the overall financial health of the College. That is far from the case here. Here’s what we have NOT seen to date:  1) The proposed non-union sub-contracts: How much do they cost, and with whom? How long do they last? How are quality control and student safety issues handled along the way? What are the quality, performance, and labor relations history of the contractors? 2) Administra...

Students, faculty, alumni, and United Automobile Workers members gathered to protest the College’s Feb. 18 announcement that it is “formally considering” outsourcing union labor.

Pressure Mounts Against Outsourcing Proposal; Senator Sherrod Brown Voices Support of UAW

March 6, 2020

Campus controversy continues to swirl around President Carmen Twillie Ambar’s Feb. 18 announcement that the College is “formally considering” outsourcing dining and custodial services, a proposal that could impact jobs currently held by 108 members of the United Automobile Workers union. While students and alumni have made their dissatisfaction with the proposal known, regional politicians and media have also begun to take notice — most notably Senator Sherrod Brown (D–OH), who circulated ...

Student Senate On Supporting UAW

Henry Hicks and Austin Ward

March 6, 2020

 This article is part of the Review’s Student Senate column. In an effort to increase communication and transparency, Student Senators will provide personal perspectives on recent events on campus and in the community. This statement was originally released in an email to the entirety of the student body in Student Senate’s weekly newsletter. Due to Oberlin College’s financial deficit, President Carmen Twillie Ambar and administrative staff have decided to formally consider contracting with outside vendors instead of continuing their contract with the United Automobile Workers union. This could lead to a total of 108 full-time workers losing their UAW jobs: 52 full-time dining employees and 56 full-time cus...

Pro-UAW Activism Shows Best of Obies

Editorial Board

February 28, 2020

 With only one day’s notice after President Carmen Twillie Ambar announced the College’s plan to formally consider outsourcing 108 United Automobile Workers jobs, over 600 students and other community members assembled outside of the General Faculty meeting on Feb. 19 to voice their support of unionized employees. As Oberlin students, we are proud of the scale of the protest, the speed and skill with which it was organized, and the commitment that pro-union organizers have demonstrated to continue making their work more open to and inclusive of students and other community members of color. As outlined in our previous editorial, we believe that the College should not move forward with its proposal to outsourc...

Oberlin’s Future Hinges on Razor-Thin Decisions

Booker C. Peek, Associate Professor Emeritus of Africana Studies

February 28, 2020

 College financially following the administration’s announcement of proposed outsourcing. But we should continue to support Oberlin financially — perhaps even more generously than in previous years — and encourage all our friends to join us, however razor-thin the decision to remain loyal may be in light of the impending mass firings of those most vulnerable. It’s the right thing to do. The Board of Trustees’ decision to be one of the first colleges to admit blacks in the 1800s was a razor-thin one, but it was the right decision. A decision made by President Carmen Twillie Ambar to reconsider the College’s decision to make these layoffs may be a razor-thin one, especially because the original recommenda...

Affirmative Alumni Engagement Vital in UAW Discussions

Paula J. Gordon, OC ’68

February 28, 2020

 Editor’s Note: This letter was previously posted on an online forum for Class of 1968 announcements.  I support Oberlin College, including financially, as it wrestles with economic realities in the interest of its long-term survival. Our astute Board of Trustees — made up almost entirely of alumni — hired President Carmen Twillie Ambar to accomplish this daunting task.  As a lifelong union member, I strongly support the College in finding the most humane, responsible, equitable, and socially-responsible results possible under the current circumstances. Positive responses to President Ambar’s forthrightness, transparency, and clarity — all of which I applaud — are more productive than threats of pun...

One Oberlin Fails to Address Race, Diversity Issues

Pablo Mitchell, Professor of History and Comparative American Studies

February 7, 2020

 Beyond the hype and anti-union fist-banging of the Academic and Administrative Program Review and One Oberlin report was a distressing silence around diversity. Do a word search of “diversity” in the glitzy 42-page One Oberlin final report. It appears three times. The administration has made admirable progress on diversifying its senior staff. However, where is a comparable commitment to diversifying the tenure-line faculty at Oberlin? Faculty diversity efforts seem to have languished, and tenure-line faculty of color appear to be fleeing the College. There are still large departments and offices in the College and Conservatory that are virtually all white, yet racial diversity barely merits a mention in One O...

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...

AAPR Must Address Living Wage

Editorial Board

May 10, 2019

 At their core, the recommendations that the Academic and Administrative Program Review’s steering committee will submit to President Carmen Twillie Ambar in just a few weeks are a vision of Oberlin’s future that is informed by its past and present values. Sure, it’s a vision developed by a 31-person steering committee, but that committee is broadly representative of many different parts of the Oberlin community, and the draft of the final recommendations they shared publicly last week highlight many values shared by all Obies.  It’s worth noting that nearly all of these value-driven proposals have received broad-based support from campus constituencies, including the offices and faculty governance comm...

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