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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

A word on the College and more to support unionization


By Eleanor Alice Benecki, Class of 1976

Regarding the student worker unionization struggle:

If working conditions, wages and supervision were fair, the students wouldn’t be agitating for a union in the first place. The push to unionize is directly related to poor conditions, otherwise there would be no impetus.

That said, the work done by the students under the present system IS an integral, but accidental, part of learning at Grinnell. It teaches them that fat cats making $600,000 yearly are hellbent on squeezing every last cent possible out of their workers and will hire fancy lawyers to do it, or stoop to extortion — threatening the student financial aid packages if they participate in the union.

If working in the dining halls is so educational, why aren’t the very wealthy students required to partake in the experience? Why isn’t it a mandatory, need-blind distribution requirement? Do poorer students need the educational experience of fitting tiring manual labor into their studies and having less time for academics and socialization to remind them of their place? How many credits do the students earn for working in the dining hall? Do the wealthy students get credits for watching the poorer students serve them?

That Grinnell should be at the forefront of reversing a standing progressive labor opinion is obscene. The college needs to back down and ENCOURAGE the students to unionize — that’s a REAL educational experience for both the college and students — and ask why the College is paying $600,000 a year for a reactionary executive whose actions shout “ruling class.”

This is the college that produced Harry Hopkins, not Herbert Hoover. The college must drop this dreadful legal action to stay true to its heritage.

And it needs to start looking for a new progressive president. And meanwhile, let’s call the standing executive “President Hoover.” It will be a nice sobriquet for him to carry both to his next job and for the rest of his career.

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    Mary Knuth OttoFeb 8, 2019 at 5:39 pm

    To Eleanor Alice Benecki, Class of 1976: With our shared commitment to social justice and inclusivity, we as Grinnell alums have the opportunity to lead by example. Engaging in name-calling is unjust, demeaning, and in no way useful. Civil discourse is essential in moving toward a solution to the current union issues on campus.