UGSDW Considers Multi-Union Affiliation

Press Release

On Saturday, May 1st, 2021, the Union of Grinnell Student Dining Workers started the process of officially considering a multi-union affiliation agreement between a national labor union and student worker unions at Grinnell College, Vanderbilt University, the University of Chicago, the University of Maryland, and Washington University in St. Louis.

UGSDW President Ryland Rich Speaks at May Day Event

Since 2016, UGSDW has made waves specifically because we won recognition, a strong contract in the dining hall, and protections for student workers while remaining independent from any national union. At the same time, we know that workers are stronger together, and building a structure of solidarity across campuses is extremely important work. The pandemic and stagnation in our fight for expansion have also prompted us to consider all of the resources at our disposal. Affiliation is one option that could lend us the resources and infrastructure needed to fight effective battles for higher wages and better workplace protections while cementing our place in a coherent and progressive national labor movement.

With input from student workers, members of the Executive Board worked with student organizers at the aforementioned institutions to put together a draft affiliation agreement, which you can read here. This coalition takes a unique and groundbreaking form — instead of approaching a national union on our own, we have the opportunity to join forces with like-minded undergraduate and graduate worker unions across the country. Our combined strength in numbers puts us in a strong position to bargain for local autonomy and access to resources.

At the May Day celebration and general meeting this Saturday, UGSDW membership approved opening a vote to determine whether UGSDW will sign on with our fellow student worker unions to bring this proposal to a national union. Members who have not yet voted are encouraged to vote using this link.

Over 30 members present at the general meeting have already voted; additionally voting will be conducted online and remain open through May 21st. In order to move forward, we will require at least 75% approval from a minimum of 150 members. This vote, while not not a hard commitment to affiliation, will enable us to gauge member interest and begin determining whether affiliation will benefit student workers at Grinnell. If you are interested in learning more about affiliation and what it would mean for UGSDW, we encourage you to consult this cheat sheet and reach out to with any questions you may have.

Regardless of any future decisions regarding affiliation, UGSDW remains fully committed to democratically representing and advocating on behalf of all student workers at Grinnell.

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