Off the Cuff: Tracy Tucker

Tracy Tucker is an administrative assistant for the Politics Department and an 11-year veteran of the College. The Review took a moment to chat in her second-floor Rice office. Union signs decrying the College’s new staff cuts tower behind her, and black veil is draped over the front of her desk. She is the First Vice-President of the Oberlin College Office and Professional Employees union.

What is your job?

I’m an Administrative Assistant in the Politics Department. Eleven years. This is a 10-month appointment; that’s what’s attractive about this department. And they are a good bunch of people to work with. I was warned about this department — nobody wants to work for them. But you have to get to know each individual and how you can work with them.

What do you like most about working here?

The diversity in the students, and faculty as well. It’s a good place to work, it really is. Years ago, it was more like a “family” kind of atmosphere, now it’s more getting into corporate management greed.

Why this change?

Years ago we saw the change. Managers in the service building were let go and [Aramark] has been brought in at much greater cost. But the funny thing is, things aren’t getting done any better, it’s getting worse. It used to be that there were managers that went out of their way to help you, now you’re entered into a system and become a number.

Why do you feel like a number? What are your grievances?

The job eliminations have just begun, but the spending continues. Departments have been asked to reduce their budgets by 20 percent although it seems that the Administration isn’t putting forth their end of the bargain. The unnecessary spending continues. I’d love to have the explanation on the recent purchase of the loaded club car at $19,901. OCOPE presented a number of cost-savings suggestions to Andy Evans in May, 2002. We have yet to see any of these suggestions put into play.

What is this club car?

It is what you see [Aramark employees] and other managers getting around campus in. Some do use these cars for deliveries, etc. They are frequently used for personal use such as picking up that morning cup of coffee way over in Wilder. The administrative assistants seem able to walk all over campus without a problem.

The College defends the use of the club cars that carpenters need them to do their job. Do you think this is a fair assessment?

The carpenters are a separate union that have access to the club cars and do in fact need them to perform their jobs. The tradesmen use the College’s vans and pickup trucks to transport their equipment.

I notice this veil on your desk. What does this stand for?

Thank you for noticing. This was worn at the recent memorial service for the spirit of Oberlin. Union members, faculty, staff and students joined together to mourn the loss of jobs, dignity, respect and commitment from Oberlin College. OCOPE members and our allies will be wearing black armbands during the month of November to signify our solidarity and mourning the loss of good paying positions.

In an earlier interview you mentioned that the College cut higher paying union positions over the years. Why do you suppose that is and how does this color your opinion on what is going on?

The College thinks they are saving money by doing this, but they don’t care what they are doing to people in these positions. They are putting their financial screw-ups on the backs of people who don’t have six figure incomes. Obviously the financial wizards are being overpaid. We wouldn’t be in this situation if the number crunchers had been doing what they are paid to do and prepare for the future.

Do you think Oberlin College is a humane employer?

Unlike frivolous spending, employees are not just another place to slash the budget — they are people with families that depend upon them financially. I think a humane employer would take this into consideration.

Interview conducted by News Editor John Byrne.

November 15
November 22

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