<< Front page News March 19, 2004

OSCA contract talks get rough

OSCA President Ann Sorich broke the organization’s mid-negotiation confidentiality pact with Residential Life to express dissatisfaction on transparency and costs during tri-annual rent negotiations with the College.

While Sorich said the OSCA contract team was prepared to walk out of Thursday’s session, they decided to stay after ResLife agreed to lower the annual rent increase to 5 percent from its initial offer of 5.5 percent. The current increase rate is 2.5 percent a year.

“This rent increase is unprecedented,” Sorich said. “The College claims they just want us to pay our fair share but we can’t be held responsible for the College’s financial problems.” Sorich thinks that OSCA’s rent is already too high. “While we have overhead costs, they are much smaller than those in dorms,” Sorich said.

OSCA will pay $1.14 million in rent this year, and has taken annual increases of 2.5 percent during the last several years. Sorich is offering ResLife a 2.5 percent increase for this year, and an increase of half of the cost increase for living in a dorm. With a five percent increase, OSCA would pay approximately $1.31 million in three years. With a 2.5 percent increase — and future increases around 2.9 percent — OSCA would pay about $1.23 million in three years. A five percent increase would mean more than dormatory costs are increasing at about 5.81 percent, according to Sorich.

“We want to keep OSCA affordable for our members,” Sorich said. “We’re going to stand firm about the College’s rising costs.”

Sorich also expressed frustration at not knowing where the rent money was going.

“I can’t tell our members what they’re paying for,” Sorich said. “Though we receive a lot of quality maintenance from the College, there is a lot of money unnacounted for, and the College refuses to break down the costs. Plus we’re not receiving any new services for the rent increase.”

She said that OSCA negotiators have been told that the College’s financial difficulties and problems with the endowment contributed to the decision to raise rents. But she added that they have been given no paper documentation about where the extra money will be going.

“We’d like to know how much we are contributing to the College’s overhead costs,” she said. “We’re currently participating in what is called ‘creative negotiation,’ which apparently means that we don’t get to know what we are paying for.”

Sorich said that they chose to break confidentiality because of frustration over the rent but that aside from money issues, contract negotiations have gone smoothly.

Associate Director of ResLife Michelle Gross said that it was ResLife’s policy not to comment on negotiations while they were in progress.


The Review News Service: News, weather, sports and more, in your ObieMail every Sunday and Wednesday night. (Click here to subscribe.)