Press release: Indiana Graduate Workers Coalition Initiates Strike Pledge for Three-Day Strike

The following was sent to the Bloomingtonian:

Indiana Graduate Workers Coalition
[email protected]
BLOOMINGTON, Ind.—The Indiana Graduate Workers Coalition (IGWC) sent out a
strike pledge to its members on Monday, March 25th. The strike pledge asks members if
they would participate in a three-day strike, from Wednesday through Friday, April 17th,
18th, and 19th.
The strike goal is to gain a wage increase for graduate students. Organizers are calling
the collective action “Three Days for a Raise.” IGWC members are asking for a
university-wide raise for all graduate employees as the only way to prevent the strike.
At a Friday Town Hall at the Monroe Public Library, union members enthusiastically
endorsed a strike plan. Over the weekend, more than fifty department organizers across
Indiana University voted to approve the strike pledge through an online vote.
“We have no other choice but to ask our members about striking. We have tried all year
to engage this administration in dialogue to no avail. Over 1,300 graduate employees
signed union cards and asked for a meeting with them. They have even refused to
answer our emails. While we love our classes and would much rather teach than strike,
we need to make it clear to the university that this kind of disregard and disrespect is
unacceptable,” said Katharina Schmid-Schmidsfelden from the Germanic Studies
Organizers said that they would only call a strike if 500 associate instructors agreed to
it. Associate instructors teach undergraduate courses at IU.
“We won’t call for a strike unless our members pledge to do this together. We are going
to have a powerful strike or no strike at all. It’s up to our members,” explained Sabina
Ali, a PhD candidate in Religious Studies.
Organizers are also asking research assistants and other graduate employees to cease
any work not related to their academic progress during those three days.
“We desperately need a wage increase. Our members are pushed to the edge of
survival. Our entire paychecks go to food and housing, if they even cover that,”
explained Ann Campbell, a PhD candidate in History and Philosophy of Science and
The MIT Living Wage Calculator for Bloomington, Indiana, for a single person is now
$41,441 per year.
IGWC carried out a successful strike in 2022, which resulted in the elimination of all
student fees for graduate employees and a $7,000 increase in the minimum yearly
wages to $22,000. The IU Administration recently announced a $1,000 raise in the base
rate to $23,000 starting next Fall, although most SAAs were already making $22,600 or
Meanwhile, at peer institutions like Northwestern University and the University of
Chicago, graduate employees will make a minimum of $45,000 per year by the end of
2024—after successful union negotiations and strike threats during this last year.
“At the heart of the issue is that this administration refuses any dialogue with its
employees. These are deeply anti-democratic and against any form of dialogue, which
does not bode well for the future of our university,” opined Elijah Beaton, a PhD Student
in History.
ABOUT IGWC (—The IGWC was founded in 2019 to advocate
for graduate workers with the primary purpose of eliminating exorbitant fees and
increasing pay. IGWC actions, including a massive four-week strike in the Spring of
2022, successfully brought an end to the fees and forced the IU administration to shift
funds into graduate education, significantly improving the lives of graduate employees in
Bloomington. There are approximately 2,400 SAA graduate employees on the
Bloomington campus. Graduate workers are employed as associate instructors,
research assistants, graduate assistants, and adjuncts. Others are employed on an
hourly basis. They teach hundreds of courses as primary instructors, conduct research
in labs, and perform as artists and musicians.
For further questions and correspondence, contact Indiana Graduate Workers
Coalition media correspondent David Garner ([email protected]).
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