Grinnell College Sent Backpedaling After Successful Student Demonstration

Press Release

GRINNELL, IOWA — On Friday, December 14, the Union of Grinnell Student Dining Workers led a demonstration and occupation of Nollen House, Grinnell College’s administration building. Over 120 union members and allies crowded into Nollen House, singing labor songs, sharing stories, and showing Grinnell what strength in numbers really looks like. In doing so, we sent a clear, ever-powerful message: We are going nowhere, and our voices will not be silenced.

Union members occupy Grinnell's administrative building.

On Thursday, December 13, in recognition of the national consequences of our fight and the slim possibility of a fair ruling before the Trump labor board, UGSDW’s Expansion Committee filed a request to withdraw its NLRB petition with the regional office in Minneapolis. Grinnell college’s lawyers told the NLRB early Friday that they objected to our withdrawal, but college officials communicated just the opposite, saying they would accept it. As our show of power in Nollen House came to a close, Grinnell President Raynard Kington reached out to UGSDW, and reiterated that the college does not intend to challenge our withdrawal. Kington added that although the college’s position on unionization has not changed, he is finally open to meeting with us, ending a months-long communications drought on the college’s part. Clearly, student action and student power achieve real-world results. We are excited at the prospect of continuing our demonstrations indefinitely in order to promote further awareness and change.

Time and time again, we see that labor rights advance not through bureaucracy, but through the collective power of working people. As the semester draws to a close, we reaffirm our commitment to bettering the student experience at Grinnell College for everyone and look ahead to a new chapter in the UGSDW story—one in which we bring the fight away from the legal world and back to home turf, right here in Grinnell, Iowa. Standing together with student supporters, alumni, the labor community, and all who stand in solidarity across the nation, we can win ourselves a union. Fight on!

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