2020 End of Year Update

Recap of 2020 work and election results:

Winter 2020:

In February 2020, leaders of UGSDW met with three members of the board of trustees. While the board voted against any expansion of UGSDW’s unit, UGSDW’s direct actions pressured the board into making much needed changes to student employment conditions at Grinnell. A huge win was the commitment to tying student wages to annual staff wage increases. Aside from the unusual circumstances of the pandemic, student workers will be able to count on yearly raises, which has been absent until now. Furthermore, after forcing the college to begin a review of student work positions in the winter of 2019, the college finally finished this assessment and began taking steps to address the lack of clear job descriptions, supervision, and unfair hiring standards. We are proud of these wins and emboldened by the denial of official expansion to find our own ways of helping workers at Grinnell. Before transitioning online, UGSDW began working with ACCESS to address scheduling issues, even though ACCESS workers cannot officially bargain a contract with the college.

The pandemic disrupted in person work spaces and left most students out of work, so we replaced our in person organizing campaigns with the larger lost jobs campaign.

Lost Jobs campaign:

After being removed from campus spring of 2020 due to the pandemic, the majority of student workers found themselves without a job or income. The college made up for some of that lost income, which for most student workers was to be used to pay off work-study. Despite this, there were still discrepancies in the college’s aid. Moving forward to the fall semester, most students were not given the opportunity to return to campus. There was no transparent effort by the college to replace the hundreds of campus jobs students would have normally worked with remote opportunities. The Lost Jobs campaign began as an effort to pressure administration to meet our demands and give students a voice in the process of mitigating the financial effects of the pandemic. So far, we have held many digital actions, reached out to more students impacted by the college’s decisions, and to pressure the college on providing remote employment opportunities and full work-study grants.

Dining bargaining:

While usually our annual contract negotiations in Dining services happen in the spring, this year they didn’t start until the end of the summer, when it was clear how campus would look for the fall semester. An awesome bargaining team of union leaders and Dining workers prepared proposals and strategies to go up against Grinnell’s lawyer and senior administrators at the bargaining table. The team won several important and hard-fought improvements, including paid leave for COVID-related absences, but a final agreement hasn’t been reached because the college refuses to raise wages at all, even given the uniquely difficult economic circumstances and the risks of working during a pandemic. Organizing to pressure the administration on wages has continued through the fall and won’t stop in the spring.

Officers elected to serve in 2021:


Ryland Rich ‘22 and Sofia Carr ‘22 (serving a split-term presidency)


Zoe Mahler ‘22

Executive Board Members-at-Large

Bethany Willig ‘23

Emily Wunsch ‘22

Gabe Ferguson ‘23

Isaiah Gutman ‘23

Keir Hichens ‘22

Malcolm Galpern Levin ‘24

Sofia Carr ‘22 (Jan-June)

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