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Indiana University graduate student workers vote to extend strike another week

About 1,000 graduate workers have been on strike for almost a week now, after after the university administration refused to officially recognize the union.
Justin Hicks
/
IPB News
About 1,000 graduate workers have been on strike for almost a week now, after after the university administration refused to officially recognize the union.

Graduate students at Indiana University’s flagship Bloomington campus voted to extend their labor strike for another week. The student workers demand the university recognize their union and then begin negotiations for better pay and benefits.

Around 1,000 graduate workers have been on strike for almost a week now. It comes after the university administration refused to officially recognize the union.

Graduate workers point to IU's policy for staff which voluntarily recognizes staff unions when more than 30 percent of a unit vote to unionize. Earlier this year, they submitted a petition signed by roughly 1,600 of the estimated 2,500 graduate students who work on the campus.

The school said graduate students who perform tasks like grading papers and teaching class sections are classified as student academic appointees — not staff — and therefore can't be recognized as a union under the school's policy.

READ MORE: Indiana University graduate workers go on strike for union recognition

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But the school did announce Monday that a task force – comprised of administrators and faculty along with one graduate student – would be formed to study issues like wages and student fees.

Sam Smucker is with the Indiana Graduate Workers Coalition. He said union members see the task force as an unnecessary attempt to divide and distract people from the strike and described the school's provost as being "in denial."

“There’s plenty of mechanisms for input for graduate employees, most importantly, a union that’s on strike where a thousand members once again renewed the call to go on strike,” he said.

On Tuesday, 967 graduate workers voted to extend the strike until at least April 27 while just 27 voted to end it.

Contact reporter Justin at jhicks@wvpe.org or follow him on Twitter at @Hicks_JustinM.

Justin Hicks has joined the reporting team for Indiana Public Broadcasting News (IPB News) through funding made available by (IPBS) Indiana Public Broadcasting Stations. Justin will be based out of WVPE in his new role as a Workforce Development Reporter for IPB News. Justin comes to Indiana by way of New York. He has a Master's Degree from the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute at New York University. He previously earned a Bachelor of Music Degree from Appalachian State University where he played trumpet. He first learned about Elkhart, Indiana, because of the stamp on his brass instrument indicating where it was produced.