UGSDW rally calls for strike as bargaining resumes


Paul Hansen

Alyssa Argent `25 (left) and Jasper Gray `24 (right) hold signs outside the JRC.

Taylor Nunley, Staff Writer

The Union of Grinnell Student Dining Workers (UGSDW) held a rally protesting for a higher on-campus wage and calling for a strike date outside the Joe Rosenfield `25 Center on Monday, Feb. 20. The rally amassed about 50 attendees chanting and holding signs. 

UGSDW President Lena Wiebe `25 called for a strike date on April 17, which will be voted on by union members this week amidst bargaining sessions between the UGSDW and representatives from Grinnell College to create a contract for all student workers. 

Bargaining sessions for the spring 2023 semester started again on Thursday, Feb. 23 following a postponement the previous week for inclement weather. At the session, the UGSDW bargaining team discussed their proposals on health care coverage, non-discrimination policy and different types of leave, which, if included, would come into effect during the period of the new contract.

At this session, the College bargaining team countered the UGSDW bargaining team’s $20 base wage proposal. From last semester’s base wage of $10.75, the College proposed a 40% base wage increase to $11.50 for first years in tier 1 jobs. The UGSDW bargaining team said they would have a response to this wage proposal at next week’s bargaining session.  

The UGSDW bargaining team also introduced a non-discrimination policy which was mostly similar to the current dining contract, but had some additions, such as stating that workers should not be discriminated against on the basis of arrest, conviction or parole status. However, the College’s bargaining team took issue with this because the current policy requires performing background checks on students applying to workplaces that have direct contact with minors, such as the Grinnell College Preschool Laboratory or other Service Learning Work Study (SLWS) jobs. 

A policy which would include a healthcare rebate was introduced by UGSDW’s bargaining team. Currently, non-student workers employed by the College must work a minimum of 20 hours a week to qualify for healthcare benefits. The UGSDW bargaining team proposed a discount on the College’s student health insurance plan for student employees who worked at least a total of 140 hours, or an average of 10 hours weekly, in the previous semester and semesters when the rebate was sought. 

The College bargaining team expressed concerns that students with no-to-low financial need would be favored over those with higher financial need through this rebate; no benefit would be afforded to students who receive a grant for the College’s health insurance. The College bargaining team also emphasized the discrepancy between the average 10-hour work week proposed for these benefits and the current 20 hours required for non-student workers to receive them. 

The College and UGSDW bargaining teams will meet at their next bargaining session to continue negotiation on Thursday, March 2.  

As student workers, all staff members of the S&B will be included in future collective bargaining. The S&B remains an independent newspaper and is committed to maintaining its integrity in reporting.

This article was updated to accurately reflect the College’s proposed wage increase. Updated on March 2, 2023 at 10:20 p.m.