Addendum to the Statement Against Outsourcing of C.O.W. Staff

In a follow-up email sent to the campus community regarding community response to the demands against outsourcing, Dr. Laura Burch stated, “Many
people added further comments to the form used to collect signatures. All comments received were strongly against outsourcing. The following pages
contain excerpts from these collected comments. Some comments include minor edits for clarity or concision.

 

The College Administration turned its mission […] on its head and turned its back on the staff.

 

I can’t support an administration that disrespects the faculty and staff at this institution. It is to the faculty and staff that I owe so much to when it comes to feeling like I’m in a community, that i am cared about, and that i can succeed. By outsourcing services and poorly treating the faculty and staff the administration has made themselves into an entity I no longer have much faith in.

 

It’s disrespectful to the staff that sacrificed during Covid for the benefit of students and the campus.

 

The employees of this college have been a huge help on my four years here and the treatment they are undergoing is absolutely shameful.

 

I completely agree with the stated reasoning. As a student who attended Wooster throughout the entire pandemic, the experience I was sold and continue to pay for continued to diminish to absurdly disrespectful levels including the decision to not include students in the decision regarding dining. The dining workers deserve better from the college.

 

The processes of unilateral decisions and lacking transparency/collaboration have been demonstrated in various situations. They claim the value of diversity, equity, and inclusion, but do such only when it fits their defined need – those elements are disregarded in far too many situations creating double standards. A total halt should be required until the current president is gone and new permanent leadership is in place, affording opportunity for assessment and full community participation (under new leadership). No action of this magnitude should be taking place – it presents as abuse of power to make a change by a leader that will no longer be on the ship.

 

The lack of clarity and discussion with the people who currently work hard at these jobs is a slap to their faces.

 

[T]his decision was not made with the staff of the College in mind. When will we stop seeing staff members getting the short end of the stick? I’ve talked with multiple dining and custodial staff members and the stories I’m hearing are things I wish I would never have heard here at Wooster.

 

Making unpopular decisions and then leaving someone else to address the fallout will hamper the ability of any incoming administration to effectively lead the college community.

 

Outsourcing is a decision with long-term consequences. Any incentives for cost-cutting should not be granted to the outgoing administrators but to the people who stick around and make sure that these decisions are executed correctly.

 

Announcing changes after the fact is very frustrating and adds to overall sense of a lack of collaboration, transparency, and community on campus. It contributes directly to low morale and lack of belief in and buy-in of institutional mission.

 

This is absolutely ridiculous that the college would rather outsource the jobs to a company instead of increasing pay for the hard-working staff of this campus. There are many hardworking staff members employed by the college that deserve better than this.

 

Unfaithful and unfair treatment of committed workers, not enough communication. Workers have had little to no say in the matter, treated in a highly disrespectful manner throughout the whole process.

 

The general lack of transparency was also present in communications with student employees, who were given incredibly little if any information about things such as wages, job security, etc. despite multiple factors such as the difficulty of obtaining other campus jobs, the need for work-study, etc.

 

The situation seems to have been forced down our throats, and in particular down the throats of individuals most affected: the student body and the employees in question.

 

Neoliberal measures that take away what is singular about COW as opposed to cultivating what is singular, interesting, and compelling about COW Not only is this decision a betrayal of staff who have worked loyally for the college for years and helped define the welcoming environment we have here, but it further destabilizes a campus which is already going through constant changes.

 

These decisions show that C.O.W. does not remotely care about its staff and is only concerned with its bottom line. The College of Wooster is willing to toss aside those who have dedicated their lives to this school […] it is a disgrace.

 

I think it’s long overdue that the dining staff receive more respect and be treated as valuable members of the college. Their futures should be as important as anyone else here on campus. 

 

The decision to distribute the work of the Copy Center onto employees across campus strikes me as antithetical to any stated goals of balancing workloads for staff. One of the biggest problems facing campus recently is the exodus of talented and experienced professionals, and as long as we keep getting surprise announcements like this, I expect it to continue apace.

 

I totally agree that the process was NOT done in a transparent and logical manner.

 

I worry about those employees who have been institutions at this college for decades being left in the dust by these endeavors. This school has repeatedly shown a total disrespect for its minimum wage employees, refusing to accept implementations of living wages or adequate acknowledgement of the difficulty and rigor of their campus contribution (save the occasional optimistic email). Our community deserves better.

 

Among the things that The College of Wooster has historically touted about itself is its sense of “family” and its ties to and support of the surrounding community. Both of these concerns seem to have been discarded in the making of decisions to “outsource.” Those decisions obviously were made without commitment to the Wooster family, and without consideration of the economic impact they will have on the larger community. Also, the reasons given for the decisions seem spurious.

 

The staff in these three roles are hugely important to the sense of community that students feel at the College. This decision communicates to students a devaluation of that community at a time when we need it all the more.

 

This is a hugely problematic decision that demonstrates a lack of care for workers.

 

While I agree that campus dining is diminishing and in need of new staff, organization, dining plans and more, this new plan felt rushed and inconsiderate.

 

The administration’s decisions to outsource dining staff and potentially also custodial staff is part of a larger pattern of both making decisions that violate the College’s stated values and are decisions made without proper input from affected constituencies. This needs to stop.

 

The manner in which this decision was announced, the search that followed, and resulting upheavals in the lives of our amazing staff is deeply embarrassing.

 

I think this was sprung upon the employees involved very secretly. They had no idea of what was going on. The employees are left with unexplained answers and uncertainty of their futures. After years of dedication to the college they were treated like dirt.

 

First, I found the stated rationale for the dining outsourcing specifically, hinging on menu planning, food labeling, and so on, to be deeply unconvincing. Second, the timing of the announcement was transparently a way to avoid having to engage with the community in what would have surely been a contentious public debate. Third, the President’s resignation announcement coming very shortly thereafter further underlines that there is a vast gulf between whoever is calling these shots and the rest of the community. In particular, it shows a lack of respect for genuinely collective decision making, on matters of real interest to all.

 

Horrible disrespect to the amazing employees that students love and have depended on for years.

 

The decision seemed rushed with little care for the COW staff and their role in our community I believe it is important to treat the people who go through grueling conditions in order to take care of us with respect.

 

We are strongest when we work together as a community. Our custodial and dining staff are essential and valuable members of the Wooster community.

 

I love the staff here. I have worked with some of the dining staff, and they are honestly some of my favorite people on this campus. They have worked so unbelievably hard to keep this campus running especially during the pandemic. It is a slap in the face that the campus is now outsourcing.

 

It is unfair to make these decisions without support from the college staff. Outsourcing is not the only option, and the staff should not need to worry about losing their benefits.

 

All decisions made by the administration should be transparent to all parties involved.

 

Why is efficiency privileged over local and community relationships, which takes many years to cultivate? Just like the Wooster Inn trees cut down without consultation, why are these relationships nurtured over long periods of time suddenly destroyed? Those who are making the decisions are not from the community and have nothing at stake, do not care about the relationships or the community’s long term health. Efficiency and cost-saving at the expense of long term relationships is terribly short-sighted. This has to be stopped immediately.

 

Having put in [over 2 decades] of service, this is the “reward” we received for a job well done. i worked through the pandemic, came in during snow storms, come in early to meet delivery trucks on my day off, plus many other things that most people would not do. This is a slap in the face and a punch in the gut.

 

I was scared to hear them tell us that they have layoffs and that I will most likely loose [significant accumulated] sick time if I can’t use it in two years […]. I have been a dedicated employee that has not called off for years and have been here through the entire pandemic working overtime, I feel that I should not have to lose […] sick time minus the 10% they are willing to pay out.

 

The people are what help make The College of Wooster great. We are losing sight of what the college means as a community. Those in charge of making decisions are not the ones living with those decisions. Rather, they are using Wooster as a resume builder and leaving the college, with no care for the damage their decisions can cause. Wooster should be a destination, not a stepping stone. We need leaders who WANT to stay for the long haul and therefore make changes for the betterment of the entire Wooster community, not just for what looks good on their resume.

 

Our wonderful staff who have been the backbone of this school during the pandemic are scared for their futures and their benefits. They don’t deserve this.

 

I feel it is a bad idea. All the hard work we put in for years and especially with COVID to lose all we worked for and our benefits as college employees. This decision was unfortunately rushed and is a slap in the face to all members of the college community. This is a direct contradiction to the college’s morals and messaging and dissuades previous alumni from providing support for future students. The dining staff make Wooster a home and have dedicated themselves to the college and its students, DESPITE poor treatment and a refusal to pay employees a living wage. The college’s excuse for failing to provide a living wage is the excellent benefit package, which is now at risk for all the staff who remain employed. To make this decision in the middle of a pandemic, without consulting the staff who would be affected, and without first paying a living wage to increase recruitment, will not only cost the college many of its wonderful employees but also the respect of the community and alumni. Even if it became obvious that outsourcing is the only possible way, please release the data demonstrating this, because this is otherwise a blatant financial play at the cost of those who keep the entire college functioning every single day.

 

I have first-hand witnessed the fear and anxiety, of the employees not knowing what their future will be. People who are close to retirement leaving starting over, after being at the college for years. It is awful not knowing what your pay, benefits will be or if you will be replaced after a new company takes over.

 

Yes the college has lost many of its dedicated hard workers due to poor decision making from people in charge of these departments. From taking people and sticking them on a shift they weren’t hired to work to making people rotate buildings and not be able to show pride in their work. It was a great place to be with excellent benefits but with all the changes it’s just an okay place to work.

 

The College Administration turned its mission […] on its head and turned its back on the staff.

 

I understand the college needs to make big strides to improving the campus dining however they are clearly rushing to find a band-aid to the situation without considering the long-term implications.

 

For over 150 years community has been the watchword at Wooster; it has been disgraceful to see that community so thoroughly disrespected by the administration and supposed stewards of the College’s mission. Outsourcing the staff the college depended on during the pandemic is abhorrent.

My observations of local decisions to outsource in attempt to solve one problem, created new ones. I wished I understood the rationale for these decisions. Supporting people in our community is important.

 

I’ve worked in Lowry and see how this is affecting former coworkers and friends. I’m open to outsourcing but it needs to be conducted ethically and in a way that protects current employees in the long term.

 

This is horrific and extremely frustrating news. If you want to pinch pennies, perhaps you start with those at the top, instead of sacrificing the wages and lives of the workers who keep your campus running. The administration should be embarrassed that it would even consider such a move. This is no one to treat people and no way to run an institution that attempts to teach values of equity and justice.

 

The final say on whether to outsource or not should be made after all the key stakeholders had the opportunity to analyze and compare the current structure of business with the alternatives.

 

I feel that more discussion is needed as to the pros and cons of outsourcing campus dinning work. So far it seems a little too ambiguous, thus putting the current workers in a state of limbo. Our fellow colleagues in dining and custodial services and the Copy Center are essential to the success and mission of this institution. The Copy Center in particular is a huge asset to the entire Athletic Department and the success and promotion of all our student-athletes and teams.

 

Our department prints many things over the course of the week/month and year. This will delay our mailings or have us end connections with those we are recruiting.