Compromises proposed and new issues raised at Dec. 1 collective bargaining session

Ellianna Cierpiot, Staff Writer

At the collective bargaining session on Thursday, Dec. 1, the bargaining teams from the Union of Grinnell Student Dining Workers (UGSDW) and the College focused on proposals about union rights and how new workers would be introduced to the union during training in a conversation that sometimes became contentious. 

The issue of a union orientation has been discussed at previous collective bargaining sessions, but in this session following prior College pushback, UGSDW offered a potential compromise with an unpaid 30-minute union introduction which would be led by union stewards and take place after already occurring new-employee trainings or initial workplace meetings. 

However, the College raised concerns about this because many workplaces use online training, and it may be difficult for the 201 separate workplace supervisors to uniformly notify UGSDW of each training before it happens. Additionally, the College team said they were concerned that variety in workplace size, with some workplaces being only a few student workers, could stretch resources too. 

The presence of a UGSDW representative at orientations would not be a requirement for workers, according to UGSDW’s team. The current stance of UGSDW about the union orientation is that a UGSDW representative be allowed to give a union introduction, which the College would neither prohibit nor encourage.

The College also raised concerns about UGSDW’s Union Security and Dues proposal. Citing the importance of student privacy and information security, the College’s team pushed back on the part of UGSDW’s proposal that said that union members could submit dues check-off authorization forms with digital signatures.

In regard to the Union Coverage and Jurisdiction proposal, high school students who work in Dining were not included under the new definitions, but UGSDW stated that, since high school students were included under the existing Dining contract, they should be included in the new bargaining unit as well. 

The bargaining teams also went over the grievance procedure, specifically the timeline and process. The College team changed their proposal for filing a grievance, which now states that a grievance may be filed within 10 days of the incident occurring. UGSDW’s proposal on grievances also includes the requirement that a union representative be present in meetings outlined in the steps of the grievance procedure. 

Frank Harty, legal counsel to the College and member of their bargaining team, expressed concern that requiring the presence of a union representative in order to use the grievance process would take away student agency. UGSDW said that they were willing to consider creating contract language which would state that student workers have a right to union representation, and also would require that student workers be notified of this right when they file a grievance. 

The College’s proposals include exceptions to the grievance procedure. Specifically, Service Leadership Work Study (SLWS) positions would not be covered under the grievance procedure because they are volunteer positions and, according to the College, would be subject to the rules of the workplace at which they volunteer. The College said that in cases of workplace discrimination, SLWS workers would still have recourse through Title IX, but UGSDW raised concerns about recourse for issues with getting paychecks or wages. 

The College’s proposals also exclude SGA members from the grievance procedure. They stated that this was because there were instances where the SGA contract would directly conflict with the grievance procedure, such as in cases of impeachment. The teams did not reach an agreement on grievance procedures or who would be included under them. 

The next collective bargaining session will take place on Thursday, Dec. 8.

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.