Press release: “Faculty initiate Special Faculty Meeting in an attempt to resolve the labor dispute between IU Administration and graduate employees”

The following press release was sent to the Bloomingtonian by the Indiana Grad Workers Coalition Sunday, May 8, 2022:

“05-07-22 Faculty Meeting Press Release



Faculty initiate Special Faculty Meeting in an attempt to resolve the labor dispute between IU Administration and graduate employees.

Hundreds of Indiana University Bloomington faculty members will meet on Monday to consider resolutions affirming the faculty’s authority to appoint graduate employees and supporting a pathway to graduate employees’ unionization.

A group of over 200 faculty signed a petition calling for this Special Meeting. This is an extraordinary moment: the last time such a meeting occurred was in 2005, and it helped precipitate the ousting of then IU President Adam Herbert.

A Special Faculty Meeting requires a quorum of 800 faculty to enact resolutions and 200 to conduct business.

This Special Faculty Meeting was called by faculty upset about how the administration of President Pamela Whitten and Provost Rahul Srivastav has handled the ongoing graduate employee strike. The administration has refused to meet with striking graduate employees, drawing a hard line against working with the Indiana Graduate Workers Coalition, and threatening retaliation against graduate workers participating in the strike.

“A Special Faculty Meeting is an exceptional event,” explained Sam Smucker, PhD student in the Media School, “and only occurs in a moment of crisis on the IU campus. This administration seems to have precipitated such a crisis through their clumsy intransigence toward long-standing graduate employee demands for better representation.”

In January, the administration rejected a request for a union election by graduate employees, leading to an instructional strike that has shuttered hundreds of classes and touched almost every department on campus.

A resolution (No. 1) asserting the power of departments to appoint graduate employees responds to the fact that the Office of the Provost has refused to confirm hundreds of summer

8 May 2022

appointments for all graduate employees. It is unclear if courses starting on May 10th will have instructors appointed to them.

Resolution 3b provides a pathway for union recognition for IGWC-UE.

The Bloomington Faculty Council Executive Committee has taken strategic actions to undermine the intent of the meeting. The petitioners presented four resolutions for discussion, but the Executive Committee removed two and then added four additional resolutions which strongly contradict the original intention of the meeting.

Over the course of their strike, graduate workers have gathered the support of IU student government, various departments and schools across campus, and state representatives, along with hundreds of faculty, undergraduate students, and alumni, all of whom recognize the central role of graduate workers in providing high quality education at Indiana University. 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 Cole Nelson ([email protected], 951-235-7897).

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