<< Front page News April 9, 2004

College fires Rance Turpin

Food maintenance worker Rance Turpin was fired Friday, March 26 before Spring Break started, less than two weeks after signing a “last chance agreement” with management to keep his job. Turpin had worked at the College for about 10 years.

After being moved from Stevenson, Lord Saunders and Dascomb, Turpin had been placed in the DeCafe night shift. He was dismissed for failure to clean floors adequately or break down garbage, work absences up to 30 minutes and a delay in returning from a lunch break, according to a pre-disciplinary meeting memorandum by Director of Human Resources Ruth Spencer.

Turpin maintains he was singled out for union activism.

“They had never intended on keeping the last chance agreement,” Turpin said. “It was just another step in getting me out the door.”

During the time Turpin worked at the DeCafe, he had complained that Wilder was “a sick building” with “asbestos, lead paint and poor ventilation.” Turpin believes that management didn’t want him going to the EPA or OSHA.

Turpin said he had worked as hard as he could and that Wilder was short-staffed.

“They’ve got us stretched so thin and the speedups are so great that it is impossible to get it all done,” Turpin said. “They say the job gets done by everyone else but it doesn’t. I clean up after [maintenance workers] as well.”

Turpin claims that the timing of his dismissal was “a tactic to get rid of people while they are out of sight and out of mind.”

Spencer said that there was nothing strategic about Turpin’s termination, nor did she know of any conversations about Wilder’s health environment.

“Rance Turpin has had continuous performance problems,” Spencer said. “We do not terminate readily. As you can see here, employees have long opportunities for corrective action.”

Spencer said the staffing situation at Wilder had always been the same.

Turpin had claimed that the time slot he worked was a “punishment shift,” which prevented him from seeing his wife and daughter or pursuing his career as a DJ. Spencer said that shifts are determined by seniority within dining facilities, and since Turpin had continuously changed buildings after previous disciplinary issues, he had no seniority.

Bon Appetit management staff refused to comment.

Dining service staff, all of whom wished to remain anonymous, said that Turpin caused trouble, though some empathized with him.

“I think Rance is a good guy, but he didn’t want to do the work we all have to do, one employee said. “I like working for the College and Rance thought the College was working for him. It would be like your parents buying you a car but you not wanting to mow the lawn.”

Another employee agreed that at times management was too demanding, but said that the work had to be done.

“Rance got rode like the rest of us,” he said. “Sometimes management will ask you to do something that isn’t in your contract, but I do it. Rance didn’t. If you want to keep your job you’ve got to do what you’re told. Otherwise he was a good worker.”

Since Turpin’s dismissal, he has started a vegan-friendly café on 36 E. Lorain.

Meanwhile, food maintenance worker Ed Beard, who was fired before Christmas, has filed racial discrimination charges with the Ohio Civil Rights Commission against the College. Beard thinks he shouldn’t have been terminated before Turpin, who has had more suspensions. Beard was not offered a last chance agreement.

Though the claim is still being processed, Spencer does not seem worried.

“Anyone can file a claim with the OCRC and the OCRC must investigate all claims by law,” Spencer said. “Beard had a long record, with issues additional to performance.”


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