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Indiana University faculty brace for graduate worker firings after meetings with administration

Justin Hicks
/
IPB News
Several faculty members independently said IU Provost Rahul Shrivastav has intimated that the university is prepared to not reappoint or fire graduate student workers involved in a labor strike.

Half a dozen faculty at Indiana University said they’re bracing for striking graduate student workers to lose their positions. They said their concerns stem from information they’ve learned at closed-door meetings with the Provost and other campus administrators.

Several faculty members independently said IU Provost Rahul Shrivastav has intimated that the university is prepared to not reappoint or fire graduate student workers involved in a labor strike.

One said during a meeting where picketers audibly chanted outside, Shrivastav cited actions at the University of California, Santa Cruz where dozens of students lost their jobs following a strike. Some were reinstated months later, after negotiations with the union.

READ MORE: Indiana University graduate student workers vote to extend strike another week

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The university confirmed it will support departments to pay professors extra money to complete the work not done by striking graduate students. Several faculty expressed surprise at hearing that in meetings, and said the money could have gone towards further raises that the striking workers are demanding.

A spokesperson for the school said Shrivastav reiterated policies that faculty approved several years ago and student academic appointees agreed to when they took their positions.

The spokesperson also confirmed the provost had been “examining” issues of concern to graduate students before he began his role officially, but held meetings this semester with students and faculty to learn more specifics. In a written statement, the spokesperson said the result of those conversations include a 5 percent wage increase, a minimum stipend of $18,000 and further tuition waiver flexibility.

Many graduate student workers said that's not nearly enough and that they'll remain on strike until the administration recognizes their union as an official bargaining unit.

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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.