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Letter to the Editors: 2/22/13

Editors’ Note: The Voice received this letter on February 5, 2013. Though it had originally been delivered to the Voice without attribution, the Voice has been contacted by the letter’s writer. In their interest, we publish this letter without the writer’s name, doing so only after we were able to confirm the source.

 

Dining Service Employees do not wish to be excluded from the

College family

 

With the decision of outsourcing looming within the next year, dining service employees are faced with anxiety and insecurity. While “promised” that no one will lose their job, many long-term employees wonder about loss of benefits connected with the College.

“Other than a means to support myself and my children, a major driving force behind my employment here has been the anticipation of tuition benefits for my children,” states one worried employee of many years.

Older employees are especially worried about starting over and about losing much needed medical insurance for their failing health.

Concerns continue over other benefits such as retirement, life insurance, vacation, holiday pay and sick time. How will all these change and will employees still have them? Even their scheduled times to work are subject to change, creating possible disruptions in family life.

Just last year, the College made strides to improve benefits such as health, dental and life insurance, as well as attempting to improve on pay scale deficiencies, while saving money for themselves and employees. Now just one year later, these improvements could all be lost for dining service employees.

Not only are benefits a concern, but also the possibility of losing management staff to a new corporation’s management.

Over the many years, employees have become family. Just like families, they have their ups and downs. They have seen multiple changes and have made compromises and adjustments. But these have been with the College family and with the people they have known for years and even decades. They do not wish to be “sold-out.”

President Cornwell is quoted as expressing that The College of Wooster is behind its peer institutions and that, “none of our peers in Ohio do it our way.” Are we followers or leaders? The College of Wooster is well known for independent thinking. Why not improve on what we have learned over the years of trial and error?

College dining services is presently ahead of the game in several areas, and is already striving to provide for special dietary needs in response to a rapid increase in food allergies, offering a wide variety of choices that many peer institutions lack. Staff is continually updated on current safety and sanitation practices, and the chef and management team work diligently to improve menus that students will enjoy. Will a new company make students a priority or offer such options?

Dining services have been the underdog on campus. They are the lowest on the pay scale and struggle year after year over summer and holiday breaks to keep enough hours to get by, and use up all their vacation time to make up lost hours. Meanwhile, many other, if not all, departments on campus continue to receive 40 hours a week year-round. Now dining services is first in line to be ejected from the College family. Where is the rationale? Why is dining services the first to be considered for outsourcing as a “means to cut cost” while tuition continues to rise?

College leaders, please understand the value of these workers to the overall mission of the College. How many departments will we let go until we become a motley crew of independent organizations; a house divided?

In closing, as a dining service employee and on behalf of my fellow employees, I wish to thank all of you College students who express and feel concern over our job security and benefits. Thank you! You are just another example of our close-knit College family which dining service workers wish to remain a part of.

– Anonymous

 

“If you are silent about your pain, they’ll kill you and say you enjoyed it.”

– Zora Neal Hurston

 

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7 Responses to “Letter to the Editors: 2/22/13”

  1. Anonymous Alumni in Cleveland says:

    The College of Wooster has so many great aspects about it! One of those aspects are the people who work, serve and are a part of the college family. In a family, each person is unique and important. They help make a unit. With so many companies hiring consultants and trying to make the most money, we lose the human aspect of looking out and caring for others. In a world where so much is “how much can I get?” we need to shift the focus to “how can I use what I have been blessed or skilled with to help others, which will in turn help our greater whole and community”.
    I personally had relationships with a few of the people who worked for dining services and am thankful to have been welcomed, helped and cared for by them. It is our job as a community to stand up for what is right and good. Even though I am not physically in Wooster on campus, my heart and support are for those whose lives may be affected by a possible change in benefits, hours, environment, whatever it is. Let’s stick together and support our family.

  2. Alex G says:

    I am shocked and disappointed that President Cornwell is even entertaining this idea.

    I was so excited when he came to the College, as he seemed to have new and fresh ideas. Now it seems as though he is more interested in chasing money, and doing things the way the other colleges are doing them.

    Wooster is unique (or at least it was) because it did things differently. The dining staff has been an integral part of the C.O.W family, and putting them on the chopping block makes no sense. Between Grant and his wife, that household brings in close to 1 million dollars. Maybe Grant should consider making a small sacrifice, as I doubt it will hurt him as much as this could hurt the community at large.

    Wooster has always had a great relationship with the community, and now they risk it, and for what?

    Wooster often talks of responsibility, so how about some practice of what’s been preached.

  3. Ting Chen says:

    I think Mark Hayward is correct. Alumni need to get involved. This sort of disgraceful behavior is exactly why I don’t have fond memories of the COW admin and why I find it difficult to ever contemplate donating to COW. There’s simply no guarantee that the money will go to where it needs to go rather than where the red-tape-men think it needs to go.

  4. Anonymous alumnus says:

    Last summer I worked for a big corporation that had bought a small, family-owned hotel. No one knows how to kill the spirit of a place like a big corporation. And for all that Mr. Cornwell likes to say about being green, outsourcing isn’t very green. Furthermore, he could consider saving money by undoing some of the bulking-up of the administration. Over my four years at Wooster I saw the school get so much more bureaucratic. It is losing its charm.

  5. Lannon Unick says:

    I was a student employee in Lowry dining hall for a year and a half while I was a student at Wooster, and I have nothing but the finest regard for the people who work there, day in and day out. When I was a student, starting salary for staff was $9 an hour, just barely over minimum wage, with few or no hours over school breaks. These are people who work themselves to exhaustion during meals, who are never allowed to work overtime and many of them have families for whom they are the sole or primary breadwinner. I’m am completely and utterly appalled by the idea that the college intends to tamper in any way with what few benefits and protections they have, especially in light of skyrocketing tuition costs and the endless money spent in the last ten years repairing, moving and constructing buildings. The college already charges far above actual cost for room and board for students, and now it apparently feels the need to inflate their profit margin on the backs of some of their lowest-paid employees? While I am not able to travel to Ohio to join the protest, I think that it is tremendously important that both students and faculty stand up for Lowry’s hard-working dining staff. I especially urge the faculty and other staff on campus to add their voices, because if COW is willing to do this to the dining staff to save money they can’t be bothered to trim from their bloated capital projects budget, who’s to say that you won’t be next on the chopping block?

    • Wanda Holcomb says:

      Thank you Lannon <3 I really miss you not being around any more, but I know your heart is still with us. Your rebutle made me cry to know that the kids that we grew up with still think about us, and that once every 5 years is not enough to see you come back. I would like to point out the relationship that the food service branch has with the students and alumni are ever bonding..it does not go away just because you have to move on with your live's dreams. The students spend more time with us than any other staff or faculty member on campus, and I love to see every one of you excell. You are all a part of my heart, and the reason I work so hard is because of you. Love you and miss you <3

  6. Anonymous Student says:

    If this is true, it’s pretty shameful. Dining service employees are often undervalued and unappreciated, especially Mom’s workers on a Wednesday or Saturday night. Nobody should have to put up with what they do.

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