Special Campus Memo: Statement to College Community Following Election

November 28, 2018

On Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2018, Grinnell students voted to approve the expansion of the bargaining unit represented by the Union of Grinnell Student Dining Workers (UGSDW) to include all student workers at the College. The outcome of this election, in which fewer than half of the 796 eligible Grinnell College student workers participated, would directly affect more than 900 current students with jobs on campus and potentially thousands of future Grinnellians.

At Grinnell, we have enormous respect for student workers and the important roles they play for our entire community. However, we remain deeply concerned about the significant harm that this specific change poses for Grinnell’s educational mission. Expanding the union could effectively insert a third party whose priorities are economic, not educational, into learning outside of the classroom and alter the relationship between students and faculty. These are consequences that we believe will chip away at the College’s core mission and culture, impede learning, and ultimately diminish educational opportunities for students. You can read more about these concerns online at “College Explains its Position on Student Union Expansion.”

There are a couple of additional steps before an expanded union takes effect, and we wanted to provide you with an update on the likely path forward:

  1. Now that the election is complete and the votes counted, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) will need to certify the outcome. This process is expected to take at least seven days and potentially much longer if objections to conduct affecting the election are filed.
  2. As we communicated earlier this month, the College — as directed by the Board of Trustees — will continue to appeal the decision by the regional director of the National Labor Relations Board regarding this election. Because of technicalities of NLRB procedure governing challenges to regional director decisions in union representation cases, the College has concluded that we cannot bargain with UGSDW in an expanded unit while our appeal is pending before the NLRB. We think it is important for the full NLRB to hear and consider further the College’s concerns, and we expect to file this appeal soon. The College will continue to recognize UGSDW as the representative of the student dining service workers during this time. 

We understand that some students may disagree with our position and may plan a strike or protests in response. While we hope this does not happen, the College fully supports the rights of students to protest or demonstrate, as long as this is done in a peaceful manner that does not impede access to campus buildings or interfere with the educational experience of students. The College has also taken steps to ensure that core services will continue to be provided should a work stoppage occur.

Thank you for your interest in this important matter. We will continue to keep you updated.


Leave your questions and comments on this message line: ext. 9999.

An archive of union-related documents and communications is available online.


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