The Scarlet & Black

The Independent Student News Site of Grinnell College

The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Feven Getachew
Feven Getachew
May 6, 2024
Michael Lozada
Michael Lozada
May 6, 2024
Nathan Hoffman
Nathan Hoffman
May 6, 2024
Harvey Wilhelm `24.
Harvey Wilhelm
May 6, 2024

UGSDW leads protest to Nollen House in response to administration’s looming NLRB appeal

Today, Nov. 30, a group of approximately 50 students followed senior administration officials out of their weekly meeting with Student Government Association to protest the College’s refusal to bargain with United Grinnell Student Dining Workers (UGSDW), after the student-workers emphatically elected to join the Union, expanding the unit to cover all student employees.

The Union emailed their members about the action at 12:04 pm, a half hour before the appointed meeting time, to gather outside of SGA offices where College President Raynard Kington, Dean of the College Mike Latham and Chief of Staff Angela Voos were scheduled to meet with cabinet members. President Kington did not end up attending the meeting, although he had RSVP’d over Outlook Calendar. The assembled crowd of students sustained a suspenseful silence for over fifteen minutes as they awaited the meeting’s conclusion.

“The values that lead me to choose Grinnell and that I thought Grinnell held are obviously not held by the administration. As a student I feel lied to and I’m gonna stand in solidarity with the Union,” said Abby Frerick ’21 of her reasons for attending the protest.

At 12:54 pm, Dean Latham and Voos exited SGA offices on the second floor of the JRC and were greeted by a corridor of protesters lining the sides of the hallway, holding signs that read “Stop Hiding Bargain Now” and “Don’t Appeal.” Latham and Voos did not engage with the protesters; Dean Latham informed Union President and SGA Treasurer Quinn Ercolani that he and Voos were on their way to a meeting and the two proceeded down the hallway.

Protesters, led by union leaders Sam Xu ’20, Cory McCartan ’19, Nate Williams and Paige Oamek, both ’20, in neon orange vests, followed the two administrators and yelled chants that the Union provided in handouts. They chanted: “No more nasty legal fights! Give us back our union rights!” and “Stop with this hypocrisy! Unions are democracy!” Jacob Getzoff ’19 kept rhythm for the chants on a bucket drum painted with the word, “Union,” in scarlet and black.

The chanting protesters followed Latham and Voos from the JRC to Nollen House, cutting through the central academic quad, and then into Nollen House, the location of senior administrative offices.

SGA cabinet members Kadiata Tombou ’19, Selah Mystic ’20, Cassidy Christiansen ’20 and Ercolani joined the protesters in their capacities as student-worker and elected representatives of the student body.

“Eighty-eight percent of the student body approved [Union expansion] from a Student Initiative,” said Kadiata Tombou, SGA Vice President for Student Affairs, “so as representatives of students on this campus it’s our duty to represent their voices and stand with them.”

On the second floor of Nollen House, the location of President Kington, Dean Latham and Voos’ offices, Oamek gave a brief speech to the assembled protesters.

“They obviously don’t care about democracy and democratic voices and all of the things that we’ve gathered here today to celebrate,” she said, “ … We want to negotiate, we want to bargain, we want to represent each other because we are all stronger together.”

The protesters then exited the Nollen House. Although no administration members engaged with protesters, a figure, presumably an administrative employee, appeared to be filming the protest from behind a frosted glass door.

“We brought the discussion to them [the administration] which is a really great thing and was the goal of the action,” said Union President Ercolani of the event, although he expressed his disappointment that President Kington was not present.

“It affirms our concern that he is hiding from us and that he is not engaging in any meaningful conversation,” said Union Vice President Xu of Kington’s absence.

Within an hour of the protest’s conclusion, Associate Vice President for Student Affairs Sarah Moschenross sent out an email to the student body on “Grinnell Protest and Demonstration Policy.” The policy explicitly mentions “the union” in a section entitled, “Can I be fined for crossing the picket line?” The policy also states that “If after notice of non-compliance with College policies, student demonstrators remain out of compliance, then they may be referred to the conduct process for a possible violation of the College’s policies for further processing consistent with existing policies.”

The Union leadership was aware of this policy when planning the action and no members of UGSDW leadership were charged with non-compliance as of the publication of this article, but Ercolani dismisses the College’s right to arbitrate student participation in this dispute.

“Frankly, students fighting for their rights trumps college policy,” wrote Ercolani in a message to The S&B. “We’ll always protest peacefully and safely, but this fight goes beyond the restrictive policy of the people trying to strip our rights away.”

The S&B has reached out to the administration for comment on the protest and will continue to update the campus community as events unfold.

Students follow Dean Michael Latham and Angela Voos, Title IX Coordinator, as they trek back to Nollen House from their meeting in JRC. Photo by Paul Chan.

View Comments (1)
More to Discover
Donate to The Scarlet & Black
Our Goal

Comments (1)

All The Scarlet & Black Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • L

    lanneDec 2, 2018 at 2:00 am

    Thought Kington was on sabbatical Nov. 26 through Jan. 22, so no surprising he’s not attending meetings.