BLOOMINGTON, UNITED STATES – 2021/10/26: A member of the Indiana Grad Workers Coalition holds a sign reading, “Grad Workers Are Unionizing,” during tabling at Indiana University’s Sample Gates on October 26, 2021, in Bloomington, Ind. The IGWC is currently trying to organize a union for graduate employees at Indiana University. (Photo by Jeremy Hogan/The Bloomingtonian)

The following press release was sent to the Bloomingtonian Friday:



Today, the Indiana Graduate Workers Coalition – United Electrical Workers (IGWC-UE) delivered to the Board of Trustees union cards signed by a majority of the approximately 2,500 graduate workers in Bloomington. We are asking the Board to set up a union election, and once the graduate workers vote for unionization, to begin a “productive bargaining relationship.” 

“The day after Starbucks workers made history by forming the first union at that company, graduate workers at IU are also making history. We will have a union here. It’s time for annual raises and to end the fees once and for all,” explained Cole Nelson of the Media School. 

After a semester-long union drive, IGWC-UE members submitted 1,584 union cards to the IU Board of Trustees. A representative group of 45 graduate workers from a variety of departments, led by Rachel Eplin from Chemistry and Pat Wall from Biology, delivered union cards to the Office of the Board of Trustees located in Franklin Hall along with a letter calling on the University to hold an official union election in accordance with their HR 12-20 policy. The letter formally requests “a meeting with representatives of the Board of Trustees to review and discuss how the Board of Trustees will implement the election process described in HR-12-20.” 

The HR 12-20 policy, titled “Conditions for Cooperation Between Employee Organizations and the Administration of IU,” stipulates that the University is obligated to hold an election after a petition is received by the University indicating that 30 percent of an employee unit favors an election. A majority of IU graduate workers have signed union cards with IGWC-UE, indicating their desire to be represented by the IGWC-UE in a bargaining relationship with the University. A union election will determine whether or not IGWC-UE will represent IU graduate workers through negotiations with the University. “Graduate workers have indicated their overwhelming support for a union at IU,” noted Drew Heiderscheidt, Geography student and member of IGWC-UE. “The University needs to honor that and hold a union election so that grad workers can finally represent their interests.”

10 December 2021 

Graduate workers are seeking increased wages, an end to mandatory and international fees, improved benefits, an external grievance procedure, and fairness for international students by forming a union. “Unionizing will give us an official pathway toward improving the working conditions and quality of education for grad workers,” stated IU Sociology student and IGWC-UE member, Anne Kavalerchik. 

Graduate workers are employed as Associate Instructors, Research Assistants, Graduate Assistants, and Faculty Assistants on the Bloomington campus. 

In the course of their union drive, IGWC-UE has gathered support from the Graduate and Professional Student Government (GPSG) as well as from a wide range of IU faculty. In November, the GPSG passed a resolution that iterates the rights of graduate workers to organize a union and calls on IU to refrain from intervening in the union process. Later in the month, a diverse array of IU faculty circulated a letter that further details graduate workers’ rights and insists on the University’s neutrality with regard to unionization. The letter gathered signatures from over 100 IU faculty members. 

Pat Wall (left) and Rachel Eplin (right) stand out front of the Board of Trustees Office.

10 December 2021 

Graduate workers stand out front of Franklin Hall. 

For further questions and correspondence, contact Indiana Graduate Workers Coalition media correspondent, Cole Nelson ([email protected])

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