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Indiana University graduate workers vote against strike

The strike vote began Sunday and continued until results were tallied Monday at 5:00 p.m.
Devan Ridgway
The strike vote began Sunday and continued until results were tallied Monday at 5:00 p.m.

Following a recommendation by their coordinating committee, members of the Indiana Graduate Worker Coalition – United Electrical Workers (IGWC-UE) voted against striking Monday.

Evan Arnet, external grievance officer for the coalition, said that vote signals the union belief that the administration might be ready to negotiate.

“In the weeks up to the strike, for the first time ever, there started to be dialogue between members of the coordinating committee and people at the university,” Arnet said. “With this going on, it wasn’t going to fit the timeline of the strike. Part of the recommendation was that this was an opportunity to engage in good-faith negotiations, to see if the university actually is being forthright when it says it wants to work constructively with these problems.”

The coalition has said that its strike vote this fall was meant to pressure the university for certain quality of life concessions, which the university made this summer and fall. However, one of its main demands, union recognition from the Board of Trustees, was denied.

“Long-term, everybody is still committed to union recognition and to meaningful engagement between our elected representatives and representatives of our employer,” Arnet said. “But this does provide constructive steps to take going forward.”

In the meantime, the coalition has said it’s pursuing a path of “partial recognition”. That includes more direct dialogue with certain administrative offices and organizations.

The Graduate Student Professional Government (GPSG) formally recognized the IGWC-UE Friday, and offered it a seat on the GPSG executive committee. The GPSG meets periodically with the Bloomington Faculty Council.

“It’s not quite clear what the internal representation is going to look like, and I think the idea is that there’s a path for constructive dialogue about making sure that IGWC representation, that representation for graduate workers as workers, is not just relegated to committees,” Arnet said.

The coalition said in its statement that future steps also include securing sustainable funding for graduate worker stipends, which partially came out of departmental budgets this year.

In addition to rejecting the strike, union members accepted the coordinating committee’s recommendation to allow it to set a future strike date if negotiations with the university break down.