Moving Backward: Statement on May 7 Student Campus Memo

Press Release

Trustees Suspend Discussion on Partial Expansion at Last Minute

On May 7, Grinnell College announced in a Student Campus Memo that the Board of Trustees directed the administration to suspend any talk over partial expansion of union representation with UGSDW “pending further discussion by the Board at its October 2019 meeting.” We are shocked, disappointed and concerned.

Following the Feb. 21 Special Campus Memo, in which President Kington indicated the administration’s openness to “possible selective expansion,” UGSDW representatives have engaged in a series of productive conversations with the administration throughout the semester, and made significant concessions regarding the scope of formal union representation. On May 5, after lengthy debate and deliberation, UGSDW members voted in favor of a partial expansion proposal offered by the administration themselves, only to be told two days later that the administration was unable to enter any agreement, or even negotiate, any more.

UGSDW Members Protesting to Demand Conversation on Expansion

This unfortunate development underscores the serious confusion within the leadership of Grinnell College. During our conversations, President Kington repeatedly communicated that the Board was fully supportive of a bargaining unit agreeable to the administration. Not only does the recent directive from the Board of Trustees belie his claim, but also the directive is deeply troubling in its own right. The Board claims that it needs more time to deliberate the complex issue of union expansion, but, at the same time, it bars the administration from engaging in any discussion with UGSDW. The blanket refusal of conversation is obviously inconsistent with the stated objective of the Board, and Grinnell’s coveted values of civil discourse, free expression, and thoughtful dialogue.

The Board’s abrupt order is extremely counterproductive and deeply troubling. We hope that Grinnell will choose to honor its promise with regard to partial union expansion. Regardless, UGSDW remains open to dialogue with the administration and the Board, and stands steadfast in our mission to fight for a better and fairer campus workplace for all student workers.

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