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Letter to the Editor: press release from the St. Olaf Student Union of Workers


On behalf of the St. Olaf Student Union of Workers


Dear Editor,


On April 23, 2024, the St. Olaf Student Union of Workers (STUW) publicly launched, with the aim of creating a more just and beneficial workplace for all of campus. This letter is intended to share information beyond the brief conversations that can be had during tabling, to our fellow students and beyond.


– Roxi Wessel and Ari Cunningham, on behalf of the St. Olaf Student Union of Workers


Who We Are:

We are an organization of student workers dedicated to fighting for the interests of all student workers on this campus in alliance with non-work-award students and community members. Our efforts began in the fall of 2022, when we began working to support Bon Appétit payroll workers in their efforts to unionize, and for the last several months, we’ve been preparing to form our own union — a union of student workers in all departments across St. Olaf. In doing so, we join the ranks of colleges like Macalester and Grinnell, who have seen great success in their own efforts to fight for better conditions for their student workers.


Our Goals:

Our college has many, many issues in its employment system that are detrimental to the students it employs. Through unionization, we aim to change that: to collectively bargain with the administration for better wages, better training, better scheduling, and everything else that our workers currently lack. We do not intend to limit ourselves only to the minutiae of the workplace. The union is a vehicle for students’ voices that does not require an invitation from the college to make ourselves heard, and as such, we have the capability to fight for all campus issues. We all saw the power of a unified student body when we came together against the administration’s attempt to sell off the Pause — imagine what change we could make if that unification was permanent.


The Future:

The first step in becoming a full-fledged union is having the members to do so. Right now, we’re working towards more of the student workforce having signed union cards, after which we’ll be filing with the National Labor Relations Board to be legally recognized. Ideally, St. Olaf will choose to voluntarily recognize its students’ decision to unionize as Bon Appétit did for its workers earlier this year, and pledge not to interfere with the organization process. It’s more likely, however, that administration will require us to hold an election, in which a simple majority of workers must vote again to unionize. After that point, we move on to negotiations, where our demands for better conditions are signed into contract, and we as students reap the benefits.


Get Involved:

No matter your role at St. Olaf, you can help support the union. If you’re a worker through the college, sign a union card — you can sign online at our Instagram @stolafstuw or through our QR code posters across campus, or look out for our tabling in Buntrock. Signing a union card is protected under federal law, including for international workers. If you’re not a student worker, are on payroll, or are a community member, you can sign a support card/petition in the same places. The most effective way to help out right now is simply spreading the word — grab a few extra cards and talk with your friends and coworkers. Finally, if you want to get further involved  with committee organizing and eventual elections, all you need to do is reach out via our Instagram or email to join in. Oles can and Oles will fight for our rights as workers!

Roxi Wessel
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Ari Cunningham
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