The Indiana University Grad Workers Coalition sent the following press release to the Bloomingtonian Wednesday:
“FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
IU BOARD OF TRUSTEES REJECTS FACULTY VOTE, UNDERMINES SHARED GOVERNANCE AT INDIANA UNIVERSITY
BLOOMINGTON, Indiana [June 1, 2022] — In a statement released today, the Indiana University Board of Trustees rejected the vote by faculty members endorsing a pathway to unionization for graduate workers. As a result of a Special Meeting of the Bloomington Faculty, faculty members voted overwhelmingly, 1404 to 508, insisting that the Board initiate a dialogue and a unionization process. The Board rejected both.
The move comes after more than 1,000 graduate workers at the IU Bloomington campus went on a four-week-long strike during the recent spring semester. Last December, the IGWC-UE submitted 1,584 union cards, representing a supermajority of graduate workers, asking for a union election. The IU Board of Trustees also rejected that effort.
Sam Smucker, a Ph.D. student in the Media School, said the IGWC-UE points out that this is a complete rejection of the shared governance system. “The faculty have spoken. The Board is not listening.”
Smucker said the IGWC-UE is asking the Board of Trustees to meet with graduate workers active in the IGWC-UE to hear their concerns. “Right now, we don’t have any way to communicate with the Board or the IU Administration except through striking. They have shut down every pathway to meaningful dialogue,” he said.
Graduate workers are preparing to go on strike again in the fall.
Smucker is also concerned the Board is not getting the information necessary to make a knowledgeable decision. “Many universities, public and private, operate systems of shared governance that include unions,” he said. “The Board’s response makes clear they are unaware of this reality.”
Furthermore, the Board’s response suggests it is deeply disconnected from IU’s flagship Bloomington campus and the concerns of those who teach and research here every day, Smucker said. “It is evident the Board hasn’t seen the research on unionization within higher education and the realized positive effects on students’ academic outcomes, but instead have been presented only with an ideologically driven anti-union message,” he added.
Anne Kavalerchik, a Ph.D. student in Sociology, said the IGWC-UE knows the Board is committed to the educational and research mission of the university. She believes the Board should listen to the constituencies who are committed to that mission on the campus.
“Shared governance means listening to all voices and acting according to the university’s best interests,” Kavalerchik said. “Students and faculty have spoken. Over 1,800 graduate students have signed union cards asking to be represented by IGWC-UE and 1,100 SAAs went on strike for four weeks this spring. Almost 75 percent of faculty members voted in favor of a grad workers’ union.”
“The Administration is simply refusing to listen to the two core groups that enable the excellent daily operations at IU,” Kavalerchik said.
About the IGWC-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 more than 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 Katie Shy ([email protected], 919-622-8648).
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