Worker Power, Edition #4

Get Ready! Two Weeks Until Bargaining Begins

A photograph of hundreds of student-workers gathered in Main Quad

The Fight for Student Worker Job Security

Our third bargaining priority is strong job protections, starting with just cause. Just cause is a standard that requires that employers have just reasoning as well as a fair and equitable process in place for any disciplinary action taken against workers. In Iowa, like in most states, workers can be fired or disciplined for any reason and without notice. As part of negotiations, we will demand that student workers at Grinnell be protected from unfair and unequal treatment in the workplace. The College’s chronic understaffing is worsened by a disciplinary process that emphasizes punitive action over helping us to do our jobs. We cannot do our work effectively under the threat of being fired at any time, for any reason!

In 2016, we fought for and won just cause and a grievance procedure in UGSDW’s union contract for student dining workers. These protections created a standardized system for disciplinary action and ensured student dining workers have the right to be represented by a union steward during disciplinary meetings. Student dining workers are also given fair notice of workplace rules and have a grievance procedure for the College’s violations of the contract.

Since then, more than 130 student workers have been rehired in the dining hall because of the job protections we fought for together. All workers deserve to feel safe and secure in their workplaces, and they deserve to have fair recourse if their rights are violated. As we begin the process of collective bargaining, we must fight to expand just cause protections to all student workers. No recourse, oversight, or uniformity in disciplinary processes is a recipe for subjective and biased treatment at work. Unless we demand oversight—by student workers and for student workers—the College will continue its unjust and arbitrary firing processes. We can win oversight, real job protections, and higher wages in our new contract if we stand together. Make your voice heard and take action now!

Worker Testimony: Hemlock Envy, Class of 2025, Student Worker for [Weekend]

Was my tax paperwork mixed up, my wages denied for two months, and my access to logging my wages compromised by the College because of transphobic policies and by HR and payroll employees that overlooked me? Yes.

Due to HR’s failure to recognize me as a trans student using a name that didn’t match the one on my tax paperwork, my ability to work on campus was called into question. The College failed to pay for me for two months over the summer. After repeatedly contacting my supervisor I was finally paid for the labor I had done from May through July 2022 — two months late. This semester, upon returning to campus I was unable to access NOVAtime despite the College payroll claiming I had access. I attempted to log in repeatedly to no avail, and finally received access to NOVAtime on Sept. 2, shortly after the end of the pay period. When I opened NOVAtime, my dead name popped up and this months-long struggle finally made sense; My tax paperwork and payment information were under my dead name which was why my paperwork was mixed up and my wages and access to NOVAtime had been withheld and overlooked.

I had ceased to exist within the College’s system. The College’s payroll and HR departments have repeatedly denied basic rights to me, a trans student worker, whose legal name on formal paperwork is different from their name-in-use.

College Represses Worker Power, Illegally Throws Away Newsletters

Word has gotten out to College administrators that worker power is on the rise — both in this newsletter and on Grinnell’s campus! Last Monday, administrators frantically began removing our newsletters from locations around campus after we expressed our need for a grievance procedure that provides real recourse for student workers. Curiously, they removed Worker Power but not the Scarlet & Black — even from the same tables! The College’s actions are in clear violation of Section 8(a)(1) of the National Labor Relations Act which prohibits interference with workers organizing.

The College even went as far as sending an email to all students blaming us for fomenting “fear and doubt” in the Title IX process. We have no intention of scaring students away from Title IX — we want a neutral, fair alternative to address workplace discrimination and harassment. Rather than focusing on our proposals which would address the failures of Title IX, the College blames student workers for exposing these failures. Don’t be distracted — we still need real recourse for discrimination and harassment.

The College is scared of the power that we have as workers. They know that we are united in the changes we want to see and are willing to put up a fight to win them! One of the most effective ways for us to show the College that we are united is by showing up strong to the first Bargaining Session on Oct. 6 at 4:30pm. Mark your calendars!

College Retracts Illegal Changes in Workplaces after Workers Speak Up

In Edition 1 of Worker Power, we called out the College for making illegal workplace changes without bargaining with student workers. Workers spoke out, telling us that these changes created more expectations and made work more difficult in several workplaces. ResLife assigned CAs an extra program, museum guides had to work a new weekly meeting into their schedules, and library workers couldn’t use personal electronic devices on the job.

When we brought these changes to the College, they denied breaking the law, claiming the changes were not “substantial” enough. Student workers knew better; we told administration to their faces how our jobs were harder after these changes. Now, the College is retracting the illegal changes and restoring previous working conditions in these workplaces! Only student workers coming together to protest these changes led to the College changing its tune. If we want to win any improvements for student workers in bargaining, we need to stand together and fight — because we know the College won’t be convinced any other way.

UGSDW Meetings

All are welcome!

Contact us!

Send us videos of College admin illegally removing our newsletters! We love juicy evidence. Newsletter submissions are always open. Email us to be featured.

Email [email protected] or contact @UGSDW on Twitter and Instagram

« Worker Power, Edition #3 Worker Power, Edition #5 »