Tuition goes up while wages stagnate. Dining workers deserve a fair wage.
- Members have voted to ratify the newest offer of $9.50.
- The college made a new offer of $9.50, conditional on a two-year contract with a raise in the second year equal to the raise for other support staff. We will vote on the new offer Saturday, September 7.
- The college made a new offer of $9.40. Members rejected this newest offer, with only 29% voting to ratify.
- The 2016–2017 contract expired on July 1, 2017. We will work without a contract when we return in the fall.
- UGSDW members unanimously rejected the college’s final offer in May.
The Problem of Understaffing
The dining hall is chronically understaffed. This leads to closed venues, worse service, and longer lines. Before UGSDW, workers earned the same as other campus jobs, yet had more demanding work. Raising the wage to $9.25 reduced understaffing by 25%, but a larger pay differential is needed to fully address the problem. It’s basic economics: if you can’t find enough workers, raise wages.
“Things are still pretty rough. I remember coming in one Wednesday a few weeks ago, and 22 shifts were unassigned.”
Yet Grinnell refuses to budge, even as they raise the base wage across campus, reducing the pay gap to only 25¢ an hour. This will lead to a massive outflow of workers from Dining Services to other jobs on campus, where students can earn essentially the same wage while enjoying better working conditions.
Right now, it’s difficult to discipline workers, because labor is so scarce. Fixing understaffing would increase accountability for workers, making the dining hall run more smoothly and efficiently.
A Cost-of-Living Adjustment
Most student worker earnings go towards tuition. This year, tuition was raised 3.9%. It only makes sense that wages should go up 3.9% as well.
Most college employees receive yearly cost-of-living adjustments—faculty, administrators, facilities management staff all do. Yet Grinnell refuses to consider any adjustment for its student workers who are vital to the successful operation of the college.
“My work-study is not a choice, it’s a necessity.”
President Kington also receives yearly raises. Since 2012, these have averaged $20,000 a year. The total cost of raising dining worker wages to $9.60? Just $18,500. Why should the president continue to recieve raises when his students do not?
Wages are Historically Low
In inflation-adjusted terms, Grinnell workers are earning less now than at almost any point in the last two decades. The 2007–2008 wage would be $10.40 an hour in today’s dollars.
Raising student wages every year was standard practice for Grinnell until the recession. Since then, the college has kept wages low while building its endowment to record levels.
In addition to wages, members negotiated for changes in many parts of the contract.
Breaks and Bonuses
Breaks were expanded to include 3-hour shifts and back-to-back shifts. Experience pay bonuses were expanded to 4 levels, so that workers can earn up to an additional $1.00 per hour.
Health and Saftey
From the start of bargaining, UGSDW pushed for increase food health and safety training, a key priority for its members. Grinnell refused to make any changes to its food saftey training, which is currently woefully inadequate. In the end, both sides were able to agree to a monthly meeting to discuss health and safety issues.
UGSDW secured a second bulletin board for Spencer Grill workers, as well as a guarantee that workers may check bulletin boards while at work. We also established a dues check-off procedure that will make paying dues easier for members.