Press release: Indiana University Grad Workers suspend strike until fall semester

The following press release was sent to the Bloomingtonian by the Indiana Grad Workers Coalition Tuesday:

“05092022 Suspend Strike


After Special Faculty Meeting, IGWC-UE Members Vote to Suspend Strike until September 26th; Project Bigger Strike In Fall

Union Members Vote to Move Courses off of Canvas, the Electronic Class System, for Fall 2022 Semester; Establish Research Assistant Strike Committee

IGWC-UE Members have voted to suspend their strike for the summer and to submit grades for Spring 2022 classes. They are preparing for a more comprehensive and disruptive strike in the Fall of 2022.

“As always, we are ready to dialogue with the IU Administration about union representation over the summer. Up until this point, we have lacked a competent and willing partner in the IU Administration with the courage to show up,” explained Cole Nelson, a PhD Student in the Media School.

Additionally, at their Union Membership Meeting on Monday evening, Union members voted to move all courses off of the online courses system called Canvas for the Fall of 2022. This will ensure that graduate employees have full control of the grades and assignments in the hundreds of classes that they teach. The IU Administration asserted control over the graduate employee-taught classes through the Canvas system in recent weeks.

“We will spend the summer moving off of Canvas and assisting our members in moving their courses off of Canvas,” explained Anne Kavalerchik, a PhD Student in Sociology.

Further, graduate employees will create a Research Assistant Strike Committee. The Spring 2022 strike only covered instruction and some administrative work.

“We want to expand the next strike to include research assistants. Many research assistants do research for grants and labs that have little to do with their own research. Many expressed disappointment that they didn’t get to strike this time. We want to make sure they are included in the Fall,” explained Quan Le Thien, a research assistant in Physics and a member of the bargaining committee.

10 May 2022

Graduate workers engaged in a four-week strike resulting in an outpouring of support from the campus and the Bloomington community.

Faculty demonstrated their opposition to the handling of the labor dispute by IU President Pamela Whitten’s Administration through an extraordinary Special Faculty Meeting which insisted that the Board of Trustees change course in its approach toward the graduate employee’s union.

IGWC-UE members initiated the process of setting up their own local union. At their membership meeting on Monday evening, they were addressed on Zoom by UE National President Carl Rosen who welcomed them to the union. “We are inspired by your militancy and your commitment to UE. We are behind you 100% and will assist you in whatever way you need to establish your local union at Indiana University. Welcome to UE.”

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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