Student: “Willingly impoverishing over 100 longtime employees and their families means that, at the end of the day, the values we claim to stand for are hollow.”
As we were the first to report, Under financial stress, Oberlin College seeks to end unionized custodial and dining hall services:
Oberlin College has been under financial stress for a number of years, in part the result of problems filling incoming classes. for the tuition-dependent school. There have been cutbacks in many areas of the campus, including faculty.
The financial impact of the Gibson’s Bakery loss is not yet clear. It will be interesting to see if the negative publicity impacts the incoming class, and how much in grant money needs to be spent to maintain quality and quantity. But clearly Oberlin College has suffered a public relations body blow from the case.
The seriousness of the situation is further revealed in a campus announcement that Oberlin College will seek to replace UAW union workers in the dining hall and custodial services with outsourced contractors.
We wondered “if the woke students, faculty and staff react to this union-busting with the same outrage and aggressiveness as was directed at Gibson’s Bakery for having the temerity to stop a student from shoplifting”?
There have been protests, though not with the aggressiveness as directed against Gibson’s Bakery, which were so serious that the Oberlin town police considered calling in the county riot squad.
The Chronicle-Telegram has video of the union-related protest:
Morning Journal reports that there were 800 protesters, but the Chronicle-Telegram video (above) doesn’t indicate such a large crowd. From the Morning Journal report:
A large crowd comprised of Oberlin College students, employees and community members gathered Feb. 19 inside the campus’ King Hall to protest the institution’s recent announcement that 108 college workers could lose their jobs.
The protest, consisting of roughly over 800 people, took place during an Oberlin College faculty meeting….
Remy Gajewski, a student who participated in the protest, said the decision will hurt Oberlin College.
“An email was sent out saying 108 union workers were being laid off, so they have less than two months to find employment,” Gajewski said. “We will have contracted workers brought in instead which will be lower-quality products and services, and it would mean working conditions and wages for these subcontractors would be much worse because they would be non unionized.
“We (the students at the protest) feel that Oberlin College is kind of willingly impoverishing long-term employees and their families who have connections to people in Oberlin and who have dedicated themselves to the students here.”
Riley Calcagno, one of the student organizers for the protest, said there were some employees he was surprised to see affected by the impending cuts.
“There was a meeting where workers were told (about the cuts), and I noticed someone that cleaned my freshman dorm,” Calcagno said. “This was someone, I remember, who made everyone in my dorm a Christmas card.
“These are the kinds of people that make this school what it is.”
Matt Kinsella-Walsh, another student who organized the protest and stood in solidarity with the UAW workers, released an official statement on behalf of other student protestors.
“These are the people who cook our food, who clean our homes, who care for us when we’re sick,” Kinsella-Walsh said. “They are often the first people we see in the morning: our coworkers, our mentors, our friends.
“The 108 workers up for elimination are among those who make this place worth it, who embody our motto of ‘Learning and Labor’ and keep this school from falling down around our heads.”
Kinsella-Walsh said students come to Oberlin College because it claims to embody progressive politics.
“Union busting is antithetical to Oberlin’s values,” he said. “Willingly impoverishing over 100 longtime employees and their families means that, at the end of the day, the values we claim to stand for are hollow.
“And if Oberlin continues down this route, students will stop coming. I certainly know I wouldn’t have.”
By constrast, attempting to improverish a 5th generation bakery for stopping students from stealing, well that was okay with the protesters — students, faculty and administrators — who tried to crush Gibson’s Bakery and the Gibson family. Hollow values indeed.
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