Special Campus Memo: Update on Student Unionization

November 19, 2018
As you may know, on Oct. 8, 2018, the Union of Grinnell Student Dining Workers (UGSDW) filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) requesting an election in which all student workers at Grinnell can vote on whether to join a campus-wide union. That election is scheduled for Nov. 27. 
The UGSDW is an important part of Grinnell and we deeply value the impact its members - and other union employees at the College - have on this community every day. We are also proud of our long history of championing social justice and support for organized labor on campus. However, we believe potential expansion of UGSDW would:                                                           
  • Undermine Grinnell's core mission - by harming the College's ability to pursue its core educational purpose and maintain its distinctive culture, in which individually advised learning takes place both in and out of the classroom.
  • Impede learning - by fundamentally changing the educational relationship between the College, faculty, and students. 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.
  • Introduce privacy concerns - by requiring disclosure of protected student financial information to other students who serve as union leaders.
  • Diminish student opportunities - by hurting our ability to ensure that meaningful co-curricular learning is available for any student interested in a job for any reason. We know from feedback we've received that students value these experiences highly. Expanding the union could undermine the College's flexibility to provide these opportunities to students in ways that meet their individual needs. 

That is why, as discussed in an update (College Explains its Position on Student Union Expansion) earlier this month, we shared that the College would maintain its right to appeal the NLRB regional office's decision to sanction this election. Grinnell's Board of Trustees has voted to direct the College to pursue such an appeal. As our legal counsel has now advised us, filing a motion to stay the upcoming election is an important first step in that process. Today the College filed that motion. You can access a copy of the filing by the College's legal counsel, Proskauer Rose, online.

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