Indiana University Grad Worker Work-In today at 2:30

The Indiana Graduate Workers Coalition are organizing a work-in today at 2:30 p.m. according to a press release sent yesterday, and a Facebook post:

“FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
GRADUATE WORKERS TO HOLD “WORK-IN”
The Indiana Graduate Workers Coalition – United Electrical Workers (IGWC-UE) will be hosting
a “Work-In” on Tuesday, February 15 in Franklin Hall to highlight the work that graduate
workers perform on a regular basis. Graduate workers will gather to grade, prepare for classes,
and engage in their research to demonstrate the variety of work they conduct on the University’s
behalf.
The Work-In comes in the wake of Interim Provost John Applegate’s February 1 letter to the
IGWC-UE denying their request for a union election. In the letter, Applegate asserts that
“graduate students are students first” and that, “although we recognize that they have
instructional, research, or other duties related to their education […] education remains the
primary goal.” Applegate’s statement underplays the dual role of graduate workers as both
students and workers, emphasizing instead their status as students. The Work-In, alternatively,
will emphasize the multiple roles that graduate workers perform for the University.
“Nobody denies that we are students,” says Hilary Warner-Evans, an IGWC-UE member and
graduate worker. “But the University wants to deny that we are also workers. We’re getting
together to demonstrate just how much we actually do work.”
As Student Academic Appointees (SAAs), graduate workers are employed as Associate
Instructors, Research Assistants, Graduate Assistants, and Faculty Assistants on the Bloomington
campus. Under such assignments, graduate workers are tasked with the work of grading and
instructing nearly 1,000 IU courses, conducting and facilitating original research, running labs,
assisting faculty research, and guiding discussion sessions, jobs which often don’t pertain to their
education or individual research. For this work, graduate workers are paid as low as $15,750 per
year, with the majority paid less than $20,000 a year.
The IGWC-UE also hopes that their public display of work allows additional opportunities for
the University to engage with them in an open dialogue. After an initial meeting between the Coalition and Vice-Provost David Daleke in January 2020, during which he promised further meetings, the Indiana University Administration has refused to meet with the Coalition for two years, refusing even to respond to approximately one dozen requests for meetings. “There is no indication that a cross-campus solution to the issues that graduate workers face is being implemented, despite claims otherwise,” states IGWC-UE member Moshe Stein. “Our union is fighting for this solution and we hope the University chooses to participate.” 

In a recent Herald Times article, IU Spokesperson Chuck Carney is quoted as saying “IU already has responded to concerns about graduate workers by implementing a stipend floor and lowering fees.” While many individual departments have implemented modest raises after years of wage freezes, oftentimes these increases have been at the expense of popular Fellowships or other programs already benefiting graduate workers. Coalition pressure on the IU Administration resulted in several Colleges eliminating the Non-Remittable Fee in 2021. However the Mandatory Fees continue to increase with each academic year. In the academic year 2020-2021, the Combined Mandatory Fee was listed at $703.19 per semester. For the current academic year, the Combined Mandatory Fee is $710.23 per semester. IGWC-UE member Charles Ault states that “graduate workers need to be involved in setting the conditions of our own work. We won’t be ignored or misrepresented.” 

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

Social Media: 

https://www.facebook.com/IndianaGrads/

https://www.instagram.com/indianagrads/

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