November 7, 2002

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Unions, students stage demonstration at Antioch

Members of two Antioch College unions and Antioch students last month staged a demonstration to protest the suspension of cook and employee Carolyn Glass, who was suspended without pay for asking to be relieved of her position as group leader of the college cafeteria staff.

David Radke, director of Antioch College Dining Services, suspended Glass on Friday, Oct. 18, and told her that she could be terminated.

The group leader position is voluntary and is traditionally offered to senior members of the dining staff. Glass has worked at the college for 36 years.

On Monday morning, Oct. 21, union members and students responded by staging a demonstration in the cafeteria in support of Glass.

Radke attempted to block their entrance, and at one point allegedly grabbed UE 796 Chief Steward Thomas Blessing IV by the collar and shoved him.

As approximately 50 students eating lunch looked on, Radke announced that the cafeteria was closed and began taking food away from students.

After the incident, several students complained to college President Joan Straumanis about Radke’s behavior. Straumanis instructed Radke to reopen the cafeteria.

Later that day, Glass was reinstated and given back pay.

The issued dominated the “Community Meeting,” a weekly open forum at Antioch College, Tuesday, Oct. 22.

Radke apologized to the Antioch community, telling Blessing, “I’m sorry it happened.”

Radke also justified his decision to suspend Glass. “I felt I was correct in what I was doing,” Radke said. “I had taken a stand that you could not resign the position. I asked her please not to resign the position.”

He said he acted in self defense, explaining that after he suspended Glass, he received threats of physical violence at work and home. “I’m a member of the community, too. I wanted to protect myself as well as my staff from retribution as well,” Radke said.

Blessing told Radke, “I’m appalled at your behavior. You had no right touching me.”

Several other members of the Antioch unions and managerial staff spoke, often heatedly, as Glass’s suspension and conflicts between the unions and management were discussed.

—Michael Hogan Jr.