By Eric Geller
On Friday, Sept. 28, the Maintenance Management Advisory Panel (MMAP) recommended that members of Kenyons labor unions remain Kenyon employees for the forseeable future, according to a news bulletin published by the Office of Public Affairs.
The two maintenance unions on campus are the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America, represented by UE Local 712, and the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, which includes custodians and groundskeepers. MMAP chairman Larry James said the Panels recommendation, which followed a unanimous vote, reflected a careful look at how to manage the efficient operation of Kenyons maintenance system. [The Panel] reached a comfort level as to what we thought was in the best interest of the College, James said.
The MMAP has held seven meetings since it was formed in June, and 15 individuals have presented the Panel with information at those meetings. Two more sessions are scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 16 and Wednesday, Oct. 24, with at least two presentations set to occur on Tuesday, Oct. 16. The final session takes place the day before the Board of Trustees fall meeting, which runs from Oct. 25 27.
James said he hopes to be able to present a full recommendation to the Board at that time.
In addition to the closed meetings, the MMAP hosted an open forum yesterday to answer questions and solicit input from the community. The forum was well-attended by staff members, maintenance workers, faculty and students. Members of the audience reiterated the sentiment that distrust is growing between the staff and the administration.
During the three-hour panel, those in attendance asked questions that have been circulating since the College first announced its potential partnership with Sodexo: Why were none of the workers consulted about the decision to outsource? Why werent the student body or the faculty informed until the decision was already in the making?
Building off these inquires, audience members also debated the administrations decision to outsource with Sodexo in the first place. Participants questioned whether budgetary problems or issues within the current management were behind this choice. For example, members of the community asked why the College can justify costly construction projects and then cut spending on its own employees.
The MMAP still has to issue a separate recommendation concerning management personnel in the maintenance department. Although it agreed that union workers should not become Sodexo employees, James said no one on the MMAP wanted to leave the state of maintenance relations on campus where they currently are.
We need a system, we need training and we need to build capacity, James said. The question is, how do you best do that?
Rebecca Dann contributed reporting.