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IU grad union: without recognition, strike will resume September 25

The Graduate Workers Coalition says union recognition is needed to avoid a strike.
The Graduate Workers Coalition says union recognition is needed to avoid a strike.

Earlier this month, after striking and protest by graduate workers, IU’s Task Force on Graduate Education recommended raising pay and eliminating fees. The Indiana Graduate Workers Coalition heralded the decision as a victory for its movement but say without union recognition from the trustees, the strike is likely to resume this fall. 

The Coalition chose Sept. 25 for the vote on whether to strike. That day also is the add/drop deadline for semester-long classes. If a strike were to resume after the Sept. 25 deadline and continue until the end of the semester, the effect on classes could include cancellation if professors didn’t cross the picket lines.

Katie Shy, a member of the Coalition’s Bargaining Committee, said there are other reasons why the union is waiting until late September to vote. “This date was chosen to give the administration a good portion of the fall semester to come to the table with us,” Shy said. “Striking is the last resort, and we’d prefer to negotiate with them before that point.” 

Shy and other coalition members believe only the union can ensure gains for graduate workers are maintained. She pointed to a recent dispute over SAA contracts to illustrate the point.

“We’re looking for the start of a meaningful conversation that would lead to the union having input into what our contracts look like before we sign them,” Shy said. 

In a Herald-Times op-ed, graduate worker Jeff Moscaritolo said recognition would be the “least painful way” to accomplish the Coalition’s other objectives: future raises, protections for international students, and elimination of future fees.  

The Board of Trustees and IU administration have shown little indication they would recognize the union. President Pamela Whitten and Provost Rahul Shrivastav said improvements in graduate compensation were the result of conversations between the Task Force on Graduate Education and students, faculty and staff.  

In a joint statement, Whitten and Shrivastav wrote that the recommendations “reflect the principles of collaboration, co-creation and equity that shaped the charge to the task force.”

Last spring, graduate workers suspended their strike in time to submit final grades for the semester.