Indiana Daily Student

Graduate workers promoted Thursday picket lines, community solidarity at virtual meeting

<p>Signs are laid in front the auditorium stage at an in-person vote for the graduate students to go on strike April 10, 2022, at the Monroe County Public Library. The Indiana Graduate Workers Coalition-United Electrical Workers held two Zoom meetings to talk about the strike Wednesday.</p>

Signs are laid in front the auditorium stage at an in-person vote for the graduate students to go on strike April 10, 2022, at the Monroe County Public Library. The Indiana Graduate Workers Coalition-United Electrical Workers held two Zoom meetings to talk about the strike Wednesday.

In a virtual meeting Wednesday, graduate organizers addressed faculty and student support for the strike, promoted sign-ups for picketing Thursday and invited students to speak on why they were striking.

The meeting was moved to a virtual format after inclement weather affected picketing in Bloomington on Wednesday. 

The Indiana Graduate Workers Coalition - United Electrical Workers’ platform focuses on five main issues: ending student fees, securing a living wage, gaining benefits including time off, health care and child care, achieving fair fees and conditions for international students and establishing a grievance procedure. The coalition also wants union recognition.

IGWC - UE organizer Valentina Luketa said the union was grateful for the Bloomington Faculty Council’s decision to formally support graduate students’ right to strike. She thanked undergraduate students and the undergraduate student government for their support too.

Luketa also serves as the president of Graduate and Professional Student Government.

Related: [Everything to know about the IU graduate worker strike]

Addressing the provost, Luketa described the IU administration’s divisive actions, saying the administration is unsuccessfully trying to split the IU community apart.

“What the faculty very clearly affirmed yesterday, and something that we already know, is that we are united in a common mission for a better IU,” Luketa said.

Organizers allowed time during the meeting for attendees to sign up to picket. Around 700 students were signed up to picket at the time of the meeting, and IGWC-UE’s goal is to reach 1,000 people. People volunteered to bring their pets to Thursday’s picket lines, and the Zoom chat was filled with messages expressing excitement for the picket line.

“You don’t want to miss this when this goes down in history,” IGWC-UE organizer Maddie Dery said.

The schedule for tomorrow will remain the same as planned for Wednesday. The IGWC-UE is encouraging students who already signed up to picket Wednesday to now sign up for a picket line tomorrow where more people are needed.

IU graduate students participating in the strike spoke about the goals of the picket line, which ranged from obtaining lower mandatory fees to a seat at the table with IU administration. They said they were encouraged by the support they’ve seen from the community and nationwide, including from graduate students at the University of Michigan, Harvard University and MIT. 

Related: [Graduate workers plan to strike starting Wednesday after 97.8% of voters said yes]

Koby Ljunggren, a graduate student in the biophysics Ph.D. program at Harvard, said the community’s rally around the graduate student movement was extraordinary. They also expressed their solidarity, saying a win for IU’s graduate program would open doors for other graduate programs’ demands. 

“Fight hard,” Ljunggren said Wednesday. “Win your union, give ‘em hell.”

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