Collective bargaining negotiations stall

Ellianna Cierpiot, Staff Writer

The College and the Union of Grinnell Student Dining Workers (UGSDW) struggled to find common ground at the most recent contract bargaining session. During the session on Thursday, Oct. 27, the bargaining teams from UGSDW and the College discussed information release, Just Cause and grievances, and a past practices clause that the UGSDW proposed. 

The College and UGSDW continued the discussion about the release of FERPA-protected student information to the Union. The College proposed an opt-in waiver for workers to fill out during employee onboarding. UGSDW’s bargaining team and the College representatives agreed to consider opt-out waivers instead and will return to this discussion at the next bargaining meeting. 

UGSDW presented a past practices clause that proposed that no changes to the terms and conditions of a workplace could occur without the Union being notified and mutual consent between the College and UGSDW. The College’s bargaining team responded by saying that it was difficult to discern what those past practices would have been due to the large number of distinct workplaces at the College. 

In the College’s academic freedom proposal, course assistants, lab assistants, teaching assistants, mentors and research assistants would be excluded from both Just Cause and grievance protections. When asked to define academic freedom, the College’s bargaining team deferred to the definition provided by the American Association of University Professors which states that “Academic freedom is the indispensable requisite for unfettered teaching and research in institutions of higher education.” 

The College’s reasoning for this proposal is that, in cases where student academic workers are unable to fulfill their employment requirements, supervisors should be able to reassign them to positions that they would be fully qualified for, not fire them. 

The UGSDW bargaining team countered by saying that since academic workers also voted to elect the Union, they should also be covered by the full Just Cause and grievance protections. The College’s team offered to consider a streamlined Just Cause process that addresses the reassignment of academic workers and potential termination that could be bargained over at a later date. 

The next collective bargaining session will take place on Thursday, Nov. 10 at 4:30 p.m. in the Joe Rosenfield Center 101.