Student workers deserve a say. That’s why we are joining together at UGSDW.
Why a union?
Workers deserve a voice. Without student workers, there would be no food, no library, no mentor sessions, no mail delivery. We do vital work for the college. We should have a say in how we work.
Grinnell has always valued self-governance. College president George Gates famously said that “It is 10,000 times better that young people should learn to govern themselves.” Despite this, self-governance is notably absent in the workplace. Wages and hours are set arbitrarily by the administration, and jobs can disappear without notice or discussion.
Together, we can advocate for our common goals in a way that has not been possible before. Student workers in Dining Services have fought for, and won, key improvements in wages and working conditions through UGSDW. Student workers outside Dining Services ought to have the right to do the same.
Learn More: Frequently Asked Questions »
Read More: A Case for UGSDW for All »
- November 7, 2019: The Board of Trustees claimed that it did not have a deadline for a decision on partial expansion.
- September 27, 2019: The Board of Trustees again refused to vote on partial expansion.
- May 7, 2019: The Board of Trustees refused to vote on a partial expansion agreement proposed by the administration, and suspended all talk with UGSDW.
- February 21, 2019: President Kington indicated Grinnell’s willingness toward “possible selective expansion” with UGSDW.
February 8, 2019: Student workers staged a peaceful sit-in at a meeting of the Board of Trustees to demand a dialogue about expansion.
- December 14, 2018: UGSDW asked the NLRB to withdraw its petition, moving the battle from the bureaucracy back to campus.
- December 11, 2018: Grinnell appealed the Regional NLRB’s ruling, threatening to set up a precedent from the Trump NLRB that would deny the right of student workers to unionize across the nation.
- November 27, 2018: Student workers voted for UGSDW by a 5-to-1 margin!
- November 19, 2018: Grinnell filed a motion to stop the election going forward, with the help of three new lawyers from Proskauer Rose, one of the top union-busting firms in the country.
- November 5, 2018: The Regional Director of NLRB ruled in UGSDW’s favor and directed an election.
- October 18, 2018: The Regional Director of NLRB concluded a two-day hearing with UGSDW and the college about the union’s election petition. Read more.
October 8, 2018: After a year of campus-wide organizing, UGSDW filed for an election with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), setting up a campus-wide election.
- November 16, 2017: Grinnell College announced its intent to oppose union expansion, claiming student workers are not “employees.”
- September 20, 2017: UGSDW announced the effort to unionize all student workers of Grinnell College, demonstrating the potential for an independent student labor movement.
Ever since we announced our campaign to expand union representation beyond Dining Services, the college administration fought us at every turn, saying that student workers do not deserve any labor rights, lawyering up, and threatening the rights of student workers across the country.
Yet, student workers continued to organize, take direct action, and offer to discuss the administration’s concerns in good faith. In February 2019, UGSDW members made the difficult decision to agree to expand representation to jobs that were not “primarily educational” first. In May 2019, we again made a difficult decision to agree to a partial expansion proposal from the administration that would commit the college not to resist union expansion to 200+ student workers outside Dining, including those in Mail Services and Athletics.
But the trustees continued to deny student workers’ rights, delaying a vote on the deal in May and October, 2019. We will fight to get to partial expansion. We will fight for all student workers, with or without formal union representation, in or out of partial expansion.
Read More: Our Statement before the Trustees on Partial Expansion »