Worker Power, Edition #7

Next Bargaining Session: October 27, 4:30 PM — JRC 101 or on WebEx

College Proposes Excluding Academic Workers From Job Protections

October 6, 2022: UGSDW presented its proposal for just cause. Our proposal would end at-will employment for student workers at Grinnell College. At-will employment is when an employee can be fired at any time, for any reason, so long as the justification is not prohibited under law. Just cause is a core aspect of every union contract and ensures that the discipline process is clear, transparent, and equally applied to all workers.

October 13, 2022: The College presented its counter proposal for just cause. This proposal would exclude all academic student workers, including research assistants, course assistants, mentors and graders from the protections of just cause and the grievance and arbitration procedures. Essentially, academic workers would remain at-will employees. Despite the fact that these workers make the same wages and are subject to the same student employment handbook as all other student workers, they would not be ensured the same job protections. Under the College’s proposal, academic student workers would also not have the right to challenge any violations of the contract.

The College argued that this exclusion protects “academic freedom” at Grinnell College. They also claimed that just cause protections for student workers could be harmful to the student-faculty relationship.

In 2019, the College proposed excluding all academic workers from a partial expansion of the Union. The College is yet again trying to shut out academic workers from the benefits of a union contract and does not want to provide them with strong job protections or recourse to address violations of the contract. Clark Lindgren, a member of the College bargaining team, suggested that just cause protections could be detrimental for student workers and instead argued, “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it.”

Academic workers, do you think you would benefit from protections against unfair discipline and firing?


from Grinnell College’s Proposal

“The just cause, grievance and arbitration provisions of this Agreement shall not apply to student employees who perform jobs supporting faculty or staff related to course work”

from Clark Lindgren, Chair of the Faculty & College Bargaining Team Member

”[Just cause] just seems like … it’s imposing something that I think doesn’t have any benefit for the students and potentially has some downsides”

Vote on New Proposals!

Union members: Check your email to vote on our most recent proposals that we plan to present next in bargaining!

Bargaining Positions

Neutrality & Card Check

UGSDW proposed: The College shall remain neutral toward all union organizing drives of any group of employees at Grinnell College. If agreed upon, it would streamline the process for a group of workers to become part of a certified union and engage in collective bargaining.

The College refused to negotiate regarding this proposal stating, “the College has addressed the dignity and safety of faculty and staff in other proposals and responses.” The College could agree to this proposal, but claims that since the content does not deal directly with student workers, it is outside our rights and responsibilities in bargaining.

Union Rights

UGSDW proposed:

  1. Paid 1-hour Union Orientation for all student workers
  2. Access to workplaces for union business
  3. ADA-accessible Union office
  4. Access to meeting spaces and software
  5. Union bulletin boards in every building with student workers
  6. Protections for participating in Union events and organizing
  7. No College surveillance of Union activities & communications

The College proposed:

  1. No Union Orientation
  2. Access to workplaces for Union business only in cases where all of the following are true:
    1. The College thinks it is “reasonable and necessary”
    2. The Union is investigating a grievance
    3. The Union “secures written permission”
    4. A College representative accompanies the Union agent
  3. College proposal did NOT mention a Union office
  4. Access to meeting spaces
  5. Union bulletin boards in every building, with content limited to:
    1. Union recreational and social affairs, elections, appointments, results of elections & meetings
    2. Nothing “political or controversial in nature”
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