GEO Stands in Solidarity with Grinnell Student Workers
The Graduate Employees’ Organization at UIUC (IFT/AFT Local 6300) strongly expresses our solidarity with the Union of Grinnell Student Dining Workers (UGSDW) and their vote to expand the union to all student employees at Grinnell College. We strongly encourage the Grinnell College administration to accept the student vote in favor of expansion, and withdraw their appeal with the National Labor Relations Board.
Formed in May of 2016, UGSDW is the only independent undergraduate student union in the United States. Since their formation, the UGSDW has won major victories for student dining hall workers including wage increases, tiered bonuses for students who work at least 110 hours a semester, grievance procedure, paid breaks, and equal pay for local high school student workers. With membership dues at $2 a month, no paid staff, and no representation from an international union, the UGSDW has remained dedicated to the needs of student workers. On Tuesday, November 27, hundreds of Grinnell student workers voted yes to an expansion of the UGSDW beyond the dining hall. With a current annual tuition of $50,000 (excluding fees), labor protections for Grinnell students are critical. Despite the vote in favor, the Grinnell College administration has filed an appeal to challenge the student vote with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).
As graduate employees we are extremely concerned with Grinnell College’s appeal to reject the result of the student vote. Controlled by anti-union appointees, an NLRB appeal in favor of the college administration could threaten the possibility for students to continue to organize at private institutions of higher education. The Grinnell College administration argues that a union would create “tension, divisiveness and a fracturing of relations among students and faculty.” As unionized graduate workers, we know this claim to be far from the truth: unionization promotes a sense of ownership, pride, and respect for our labor.
Grinnell College advertises itself as an institution that is committed to principles of social justice. Boasting an annual Social Justice Prize of $100,000 given to one person to “serve the common good,” supporting a student founded and led labor union should be common sense. With a 1.8 billion dollar endowment, there is no excuse for Grinnell College to ignore the demands of labor unionization for students.
We, the GEO local 6300 stand in solidarity with the Union of Grinnell Student Dining Workers (UGSDW) and all students who wish to be represented. We strongly encourage the Grinnell College administration to reflect upon their commitment to social justice and withhold an appeal to the NLRB.