Worker Power, Edition #1

Higher Wages Now!

How does a $3.4 billion institution get away with paying poverty wages?

$3,450,448,000. $8.24. These numbers tell us what anyone who has worked for Grinnell College knows – Grinnell pays poverty wages even with its deep pockets. Grinnell works because we do. More than half of students work on campus, working in jobs essential for all College operations. Administration worries about an “over-reliance on student workers.” But do our low wages reflect that reliance? The College’s lawyer said that they could pay student dining workers $25 an hour. Why don’t they?

Grinnell’s poverty wages are not competitive even with other colleges in low minimum wage states. Carleton College pays student workers $15 an hour, and Dartmouth College raised its student dining workers to $21 an hour earlier this year. When Dartmouth’s endowment grew 46.5 percent in 2021, their administration raised student worker wages by 48%! Grinnell’s endowment grew 47.5 percent over the same time. Administration only gave student workers a 3% raise.

When dining workers demanded $15 an hour in Fall 2021, it was long overdue. Our work is more essential now than ever. We need a much higher campus-wide wage that reflects the work we do to keep Grinnell running.

It’s time to pay up!

Work Study Calculator

The cost for 1 year of work study is $2500. At $9.27 an hour, students need to work 270 hours. That’s more than 9 hours per week. At $15 an hour, it would take under 6 hours per week!

Andrew Thompson, Class of 2023, Dining worker since August 2019

“Grinnell College’s refusal to pay its workers a decent wage has driven many workers away from D-Hall. Understaffing has made this job physically and emotionally exhausting but administration continues to do nothing. Paying a fair wage would drastically improve working conditions – anything else is useless.”


To pay full tuition & fees as a student worker (20 hours per week, 28 weeks per year) the wage would have to be $135 per hour.

If the base wage increased at the same rate as endowment since 2016, when the base wage was $8, the 2020 base wage would have been $10.41, the 2021 base wage would have been $14.65, and the 2022 base wage would have been $15.72. The actual 2022 base wage is $8.24.

Grinnell College, Stop Breaking the Law

Charge 1: Grinnell College has refused to provide UGSDW with a list of student workers by workplace. Every union is guaranteed this information under the National Labor Relations Act of 1935. The College wants to make it as hard as possible for us to represent every student worker!

Charge 2: It is illegal for Grinnell College to make any unilateral workplace changes without bargaining with us, the workers. However, Grinnell College has already instituted changes in a number of workplaces – and blamed it on the union.

Are there new rules in your workplace this semester? Reach out and let us know!

Join Us!

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Attend workplace meetings with your coworkers! Don’t have one? Become a steward and set it up!

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Email us at [email protected].

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