UGSDW Strike

May 09, 2023

Dear Union Leaders, Membership, Faculty, Staff, and Students,

UGSDW leadership has informed College representatives that Community Advisors (CA) are on strike as of 5 a.m. on Wednesday, May 10. Social media posts by UGSDW are encouraging Union members to join the picket line in solidarity with CAs.  For more information about how collective bargaining has reached this point, you may wish to review recordings of collective bargaining sessions, proposals, and other correspondence on the Human Resources web site.

The collective bargaining process has not resulted in a declaration of impasse, and the current contract with dining workers, which is valid through June 30, 2023, contains a no strike clause.  The College voluntarily agreed to add Community Advisors (CA) to the Union last fall as part of the bargaining unit. CAs, therefore, may not vote to strike independent of UGSDW. While concerted action such as protest is protected under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), initiating a strike without having reached impasse is considered an unlawful strike. All student workers and supervisors may refer to the Rights and Responsibilities as defined under the NLRA.  

As such, the College will file an Unfair Labor Practice complaint with the NLRB. A ULP  will have no immediate effect on student workers, wages, hours or terms and conditions of employment. Students who work will be paid. In light of these developments, the utility of the collective bargaining mediation session scheduled for 3 p.m. on May 11, 2023, has been called into question.

Throughout the collective bargaining process, the College has maintained that one of our key interests is agency for students in making decisions about their employment with the College. Under the NLRA, each student worker should be empowered to make an informed individual decision about whether they wish to participate in a strike. As you will read in the Rights and Responsibilities, the UGSDW’s vote to strike does not obligate an individual student worker to strike.

The College is committed to providing continuity and predictability for students who choose to work.  During the evening walkout earlier this semester, about two thirds of students chose to work, and we are aware that the College is the only possible work option for international students.  The College has a responsibility to pay those students who are coming to work and to not pay those students who are on strike.

Students, faculty, and staff must be allowed to continue their academic pursuits and to carry out their duties without disruption. Union members may peacefully picket on public property and non-union staff, students, and faculty should be able to access their workplaces without undue hardship.

Because the campus is private property and not a public space, UGSDW will be expected to comply with the College’s rules on Advertising/Signs/Tabling as set forth in the student handbook. Because the contract between the College and UGSDW pertaining to dining workers is in place until June 30, 2023, the College will also expect UGSDW to adhere to the posting provisions contained in that agreement.

Faculty and staff should continue to follow the T.I.P.S. and F.O.E. guidelines around discussion of union activity at the College.  In accordance with the NLRA, faculty and staff may not penalize students who wish to strike with any form of discipline.

We ask that all members of our campus community work to ensure that workplace interactions remain mutually respectful for student workers who choose to work as well as for staff and faculty members. Anyone who feels that they are being pressured not to work, or otherwise bullied, harassed, or targeted in any way related to the strike may report an incident (either anonymously or by supplying their contact information) by contacting Grinnell’s reporting hotline by telephone at 855-667-1753 or online at EthicsPoint.

While the College respects the right to engage in lawful concerted activity, it is disappointing that UGSDW has chosen to call for an unlawful strike. The College is also the steward of its academic mission and, as such, affirms that conduct that violates community standards or other policies outlined in the student handbook will be addressed through the student conduct process. [Editor's note: Links to the handbook published at the time of this message have been removed as the previous version of the handbook has been replaced with the current Student Handbook.]

Jana Grimes 
Vice President for Human Resources     

Mark Watts
Director of Payroll and Student Employment


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