Press release: Indiana University Grad Workers vote 97.8% to strike

The following press release was sent by the Indiana Graduate Worker Coalition to the Bloomingtonian Monday:


1,008 Grad Workers Vote to Strike 

Strike Authorization Passes with a  97.8% Yes Vote

Strike to Start Wednesday

Union members of the Indiana Graduate Worker Coalition – United Electrical Workers (IGWC-UE) voted 1,008 to 23 to authorize a strike in support of their request for union recognition from the Indiana University Administration. The IGWC-UE Strike Strategy Committee reviewed the results and agreed by consensus that strike plans should move forward.

Graduate workers are striking for union recognition. After years of the Administration neglecting graduate education, the IGWC-UE is demanding a permanent bargaining relationship with the IU Administration. IGWC-UE seeks a relationship that will guarantee that graduate worker voices are heard.

For years, Indiana University has focused on funding Administrative salaries while neglecting educational programs. The result is that most departments have provided only two raises to graduate instructors and researchers in the last decade. Some departments have not raised wages in over ten years. 

“The Administration’s priorities just seem to be wrong. They are funding all kinds of prestige projects and high administration salaries and meanwhile neglecting the educational mission of the university,” explained Valentina Luketa, President of Graduate and Professional Student Government.

Administration salaries are skyrocketing. The salary of the IU Foundation President increased by over 54% between 2010 and 2019. During the same period, salaries for the IU President and Provost increased 124% and 47%, respectively. The IU President was paid $888,000 in 2020. President McRobbie was provided over a $500,000 bonus payment in his final months in office in 2021. Meanwhile, between 2010 and 2019 tenured faculty salaries increased by just 6%.

“The IU Administration is systematically defunding education and instead shifting those funds to a class of high-paid administrators whose job it seems to be to cut educational programs,” explained Sam Smucker from the Media School.

Graduate workers are employed as Associate Instructors, Research Assistants, Graduate Assistants, and Faculty Assistants on the Bloomington campus. They teach hundreds of courses as primary instructors, conduct research in labs, and perform as artists and musicians.

IGWC-UE submitted nearly 1,600 union membership cards to the Board of Trustees requesting a union election in December of 2021. The Board rejected that request. The union now claims nearly 1,800 members among the 2,500 graduate employees. 

The United Electrical, Radio, and Machine Workers of America (UE) is an independent, democratic union representing some 30,000 employees in a variety of industries.  The UE’s  motto is: “The members run this union.”

For further questions and correspondence, contact Indiana Graduate Workers Coalition media correspondent, Sam Smucker ([email protected]).

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