The Oberlin Review
<< Front page News October 1, 2004

College accepts UAW offer
Four-year deal reached after Thursday talks

Local 2192 of the United Automobile Workers agreed on terms with the College Thursday for a new four-year contract after several weeks of behind-the-scenes negotiating.

The campus chapter represents 182 maintenance workers, custodians, food service workers and technicians.

On Wednesday, the UAW membership voted to approve an altered version of the contract with several changes that had not yet been seen by the College. The new version of the contract was then presented to College officials on Thursday morning.

After a three-hour negotiating session, the College agreed to the changes, according to Vice President of College Relations Al Moran.

In a press release issued by the College, President Nancy Dye spoke in concilitory terms about the settlement.

“Reaching a bilateral agreement at the bargaining table is an endorsement of the commitment made by both the College and the union to achieve a fair and equitable agreement,” she said.

The UAW’s previous contract expired on Aug. 31 and employees have been working under a contract extension since then. The union completed a strike vote on Sept. 3.

Since that time, the union has conducted its negotiations in a much less public fashion than the other large union on campus, the Oberlin College Office and Professional Employees union. College officials confirmed this week that numerous meetings were held between UAW representatives and the College, most of which have been mostly informal and unpublicized in nature.

The College praised the UAW negotiators for their advocacy.

“The negotiators seemed to show a great appreciation for the economic realities we are facing,” Moran said.

Kathy Fenderson, president of Oberlin’s UAW chapter, was not immediately available for comment, but rank and file UAW members seemed relieved that the process had concluded.

“I think the UAW negotiators did a good job,” said a Dascomb cook. 

“It’s a very diffuclt job. I have to pat them on the back and shake their hand.”

“I’m really happy about it,” a cook in Stevenson said.

“To me, it’s fair. I don’t know about other people,” said a Dascomb employee, who gave her name as Yong Suk.

One 65-year-old CDS worker disagreed with this sentiment.

“We didn’t get very much,” she said. “I think the life insurance should be better. If something happens to you while you’re working here, you get $5,000, only $2,000 when you retire.”

Judging from the reaction of one employee coming out of Stevenson on Thursday night, the full impact of the announcement has yet to sink in.

“I really haven’t had the time to think about it,” the employee said.
OCOPE still at an impasse with the College

The Oberlin College Office and Professional Employees union met this week with the College and a federal mediator in their ongoing contract dispute, while several OCOPE employees continued to voice frustrations at the College’s conduct during the negotiations.

“The College goes through the process of bringing in a mediator but still won’t budge on its position, when OCOPE has made concession after concession,” said library assistant Michael Palazzolo. “If it can afford to offer the UAW a signing bonus, then they can afford to give OCOPE 50 percent tuition remission.”

Remission, the amount that the College will spend on the college costs of employees’ children, remains one of the primary issues of contention in the negotiations.

“Since I have a daughter at Oberlin, and a son getting ready to go to college next year, tuition remission is an issue for me that I would like to see settled,” said Ellen Broadwell, who works in the serials department at Mudd. “I don’t see why both bargaining units do not have the same tuition remission benefits.”

It is still unclear what effect the settlement reached between the College and the UAW will have on OCOPE’s negotiations.

OCOPE negotiators had no comment on the UAW settlement.

“There are two separate teams and two separate sets of issues,” said Vice President of College Relations Alan Moran. “They all have different priorities.”

Meanwhile, a coalition of concerned students have launched a website for student supporters of OCOPE.

The coalition includes members of the Oberlin College Democrats, the Student Labor Action Coalition, the Oberlin Peace Activists League, The Radical Activist Collective and the Socialist Alternative .


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