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March in Oberlin (update!)
by smarthur Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2004 at 10:15 AM
smarthur [at] riseup [dot] net

Between 100 and 300 union members and students joined forces for a march and rally around Oberlin campus, ending at Oberlin President Nancy Dye's house.

On Friday, October 8, between 100 and 300 OCOPE union members, community members and students gathered outside of Cox administration building at Oberlin College. After a few inspirational speeches from union leaders and a representative professing solidarity from the steelworkers, the march began winding its way around Tappan Square. As the procession got underway, a large truck drove by, sounding its horn in solidarity and setting the tone for the rest of the march.

Along with the usual chants of "What do we want? A fair contract!," the communal creative juices of the crowd produced "Nancy's [the college's president] sick, awwww jee. She gets sick days, why don't we?"

According to inside sources, president Nancy Dye stayed home sick that day. Since her house is owned by the college, the student handbook suggests that it's perfectly legitimate for campus protests to take place there, so the marchers headed for her front lawn (but in all honesty, it would've happened there anyway!) Blowing horns, spirited chanting and noise makers announced the procession's arrival at her mansion. While some of the marchers stayed on the sidewalk, a large group of students ventured onto her lawn. A few students decided to call Nancy out and demand that she face the crowd. After repeatedly ringing her doorbell and banging her door knocker, the students decided to fill her mailbox with petitions and postcards in solidarity with the unions. As the march headed back to central campus, signs were left on her doorstep so their presence would not be forgotten.

OCOPE has been attempting to negotiate with Oberlin College for a fair contract since June 2004. The college, who presented OCOPE with a "final offer" contract that would slash healthcare benefits, maintain the status quo 20% tuition remission for OCOPE children as well as the non-paid weeks of winter break (the other unions get 50% tuition remission and get paid for winter break shutdown). The proposed contract ultimately would give OCOPE a net paycut, when slashed benefits and the rate of inflation are taken into account.

This past Monday, OCOPE met with the college over the final contract OCOPE membership was willing to submit. Making major concessions to the college, the membership agreed it was the lowest they were willing to go. Given the college non-negotiating stance since the beginning, many expected the meeting to result in a strike. However, the college agreed to give OCOPE the financial information in regards to the contract that they've been refusing to give for the past four months. As a result, OCOPE will present this new information to its membership, and will be meeting with the college to discuss again later next week.

Although the college has been employing tactics we normally associate with union busting corporations, the students of Oberlin College, as well as much of the faculty) stand in solidarity with OCOPE. While the college continues to screw the unions here, we refuse to sit silent while those who work to ensure the quality of our eduction, our friends and coworkers.

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pictures? smarthur Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2004 at 10:16 AM
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