The Indiana Grad Workers Coalition – United Electrical union members held a strike pledge rally Tuesday as the Indiana University board of trustees met in Henke Hall on the North end of Memorial Stadium in Bloomington, Indiana. The grad workers said they will vote to begin a strike on September 27, 2022, during the fall semester, if the university does not recognize their union, and other demands.
After striking last semester, workers were recently given a raise, and some fees were waived, but the university has refused to recognize the grad worker union. During the rally, the workers said the reason they received raises was because they unionized, but the university could take away the raises anytime without recognition of their union.
Grad worker Joshua Pascal said the workers want the university to either recognize the union, or set forth a path for recognition. While grad worker Nora Weber said the grad workers fought the university administration for five years just to get a small raise, and get fees waived.
The strike authorization voting will begin September 25th, and if workers vote to strike will begin on September 27, 2022.
The IGWC-UE sent the following press release to the media Tuesday after the rally:
“FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Graduate Workers Pledge to Strike Outside Board of Trustees Meeting
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. [August 11, 2022] — Graduate employees at Indiana University held a
strike pledge launch rally on Bloomington campus today outside a meeting of the Board of
Trustees. The rally celebrated recent victories for graduate workers, including a raise in
minimum pay and the elimination of most mandatory fees. It also signaled an enduring
commitment to union recognition.
An official strike authorization vote will not occur until at least September 25th, but as of today,
graduate workers have begun to sign pledges indicating their continuing commitment to strike
after a “yes” vote if Indiana University does not formally recognize the Indiana Graduate
Workers Coalition – United Electrical Workers as the graduate employee union.
So far, despite majority support among both graduate employees and Indiana University faculty,
upper administration and the Indiana University Board of Trustees have declined to recognize the
union. Workers emphasize that recent raises show real progress, but a union is needed to ensure
that, in the long-term, money is sent to labs, classrooms, studios, and the employees that teach in
“We call on IU to respect its principle of shared governance and its commitment to excellent
undergraduate education,” Alex Shannon, a graduate worker who spoke at the rally, explained.
“We are here today because the Board of Trustees has the ability to avert the crisis on campus
that another strike will cause this fall.”
Six of the Big Ten universities have graduate employee unions, as do elite universities like MIT,
Princeton, and Harvard. In many states, recognition of a union is legally required after
employees vote to form one. Indiana, however, allows employers like IU to refuse to bargain
with an employee union, hence the ongoing labor dispute on campus.
-moreSwasti Singh, a graduate worker who attended the rally, said, “These recent raises by IU are a big
deal, but it should not take years of organizing and even strikes to get raises. We just want what
anyone would want, an opportunity to negotiate on the terms of our employment with IU to
ensure all interests are taken into account.”
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).