The Indiana Graduate Workers Coalition – United Electrical Workers released the following press release Monday:
“7/31/22_Task Force Wins_Press Release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Provost’s Task Force on Graduate Education Echoes Longstanding Indiana Graduate Worker Demands in New Recommendations
In Spring 2022, with a graduate employee work stoppage looming, the Provost of Indiana University Bloomington convened a Task Force on Graduate Education. The task force has now submitted its recommendations, which echo long-standing demands from the Indiana Graduate Workers Coalition – United Electrical Workers, the graduate employee union movement on campus.
Key recommendations include covering the mandatory fees for graduate workers, tying graduate employee stipends to other Big Ten universities, and increasing the minimum stipend to $21,000 per year. The Indiana Graduate Workers Coalition has been advocating for pay increases and the elimination of the mandatory fees since 2018.
The Task Force declined to weigh in on the specific issue of union recognition. Supporters of the graduate union say they are heartened to see their concerns reflected in Task Force demands but worry about follow through. Nora Weber, a Coalition member and graduate employee in Sociology, said, “This progress represents nearly 5 years of collective, organized efforts by the graduate workers at IU and our allies, including our spring strike. It is encouraging to see a campus-level task force taking graduate conditions seriously, and IU should recognize our union to ensure this commitment is long-term.”
The Task Force’s recommendations are not binding. The Indiana Graduate Workers Coalition has released a statement supporting these recommendations as well as asking Indiana University President Pamela Whitten and Bloomington Provost Rahul Shrivastav to publicly commit to following through on Task Force recommendations.
Not every Coalition demand made it onto the Task Force’s recommendations. Excluded items in addition to union recognition include a neutral grievance procedure, elimination of international student fees for graduate employees, and yearly cost of living increases.
Anne Kavalerchik, a Coalition member and graduate employee in Sociology and Informatics, said, “These recommendations are a good start, but graduate workers shouldn’t be forced to go on strike to get raises. I am more committed than ever to union recognition to keep university upper administration accountable. We need better pay, but we also need a seat at the table.”
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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