We, the undersigned, support and expand the call by Grinnell College alumni Kate Diedrick, '07, Sharyn Obsatz '93, and Scott Olson '15 to support Grinnell College student workers in their vote to unionize, as published in the Des Moines Register on December 3, 2018.
As they wrote:
"As alumni of Grinnell College, we romanticize the college's progressive goals, including creating graduates who will improve our world, not just focus on image and the bottom line.
We have been saddened to watch Grinnell College undermine its current students by opposing a legally scheduled student vote on whether to expand the dining hall student workers union to include other student workers on campus — an election which the union won by a 5-to-1 margin on Nov. 27.
The goal of the student union is to improve student pay and working conditions on campus. Many Grinnell alumni are members of unions at our workplaces, from board members of small faculty unions to the executive director for SAG-AFTRA, the world's largest entertainment union.
We believe that unions and collective bargaining are pillars of a healthy democracy.
The college has hired two expensive, union-busting law firms to appeal a regional labor relations board ruling that student workers were indeed employees eligible to unionize. The college plans to take its appeal to the National Labor Relations Board, which has been stacked with anti-union appointees of President Trump.
By spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on attorneys to appeal to the Trump board, Grinnell College is putting in jeopardy unionized student workers from colleges and universities across the United States.
We urge Grinnell College to look to higher educational institutions such as Georgetown University and NYU, where, despite the Trump NLRB context, administrations have decided not to appeal election results and instead to respect the results of student elections.
Grinnell students should be the ones to decide if they want to unionize. They have the right to a fair election, and to have the results of that election respected by their employer. If Grinnell College truly cares about social justice, it will respect its students, their election and the results."
In forcing students to defend their union vote at the NLRB, Grinnell College is undermining labor and human rights for union members on university and college campuses nationwide. Indeed, Kington is betraying the very progressive history and values for which Grinnell College is known. For more information about the Union of Grinnell College Student Dining Workers, please go to their website at: https://www.ugsdw.org/.
Rebecca Weston '88 (psychotherapist in Missoula, Montana)