Press release: IGWC-UE Members to Fund Local Sustainably Through New Dues System

The following press release was sent to the Bloomingtonian Wednesday:


IGWC-UE Members to Fund Local Sustainably Through New Dues System

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. [August 31, 2022] — This week, the Indiana Graduate Workers Coalition-United Electrical Workers enabled members to begin contributing monthly dues. Dues collection enables the local chapter of UE to sustain itself as a permanent representative of graduate workers on campus.

Dues fund operating costs for the union, including subscription services and social events. Most unions are funded through dues check-off, a mechanism by which workers give from their paychecks by automatic withdrawal every month. Until they have bargained their first contract, many unions, such as unions of grad workers at MIT and UChicago, sustain their organizing efforts through voluntary dues contributions.

The union expects to bargain for dues check-off in its first contract or in negotiations about settling the strike planned for September.

“Similar to HR 12-20, IU already has a policy in place allowing some workers to donate automatically to some places,” Erika Coe, a grad worker in Political Science, explained. “Faculty can give to United Way every month. We are asking for that same option to support a non-profit organization we believe in.”

At IU, the recommended donation is 1.44% of members’ income. For grad students making the new minimum stipend, $22,000 per year, this amounts to $36 per month. The new minimum stipends gave most grad workers a raise of several hundred dollars per month.

The IGWC-UE has been supported by a robust network of donors from the university, the local community, alumni, and members themselves. The strike fund soared to over $60,000 dollars last spring. These funds remain earmarked for the case of special circumstances.


“Donations have been invaluable in getting our organizing off the ground and solidifying our community support. At the same time, members run this union–we can count on them to make sure the union can operate even outside of crises and GoFundMes. We are striking for the ability to fund our union in perpetuity,” Denizhan Pak, a grad worker in Cognitive Science and Informatics, said.

The IGWC-UE continues to seek dialogue with the IU administration.

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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