What is the Indiana Graduate Workers Coalition-United Electrical Workers (IGWC-UE)?
Statement on the organization from the IGWC-UE website: “We are a multidisciplinary group of graduate workers fighting for better working conditions for graduate student workers at IUB. Everyone is welcome regardless of race, class, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, nationality, or political affiliation. In the summer of 2021, the Graduate Workers Coalition decided to affiliate with the United Electrical Workers (UE) in order to gain union recognition for graduate workers at IU.”
Mission statement from the IGWC-UE website: “It is our goal for graduate workers on the IUB campus to have good working conditions, including adequate pay, benefits, and freedom from discrimination. Graduate school is supposed to be an intellectually rigorous time of academic growth, but we refuse the myth that grad school is ‘supposed to be hard’ regarding the conditions of our labor. As a united coalition of graduate student workers from across departments, we are dedicated to improving these conditions.”
What are graduate students seeking?
Graduate students are seeking an end to mandatory fees, a livable wage and improved benefits, among other demands.
Primarily, they are frustrated that wages for administrators have increased, while their stipends have remained mostly stagnant.
Graduate workers want a seat at the table and to be involved in administrative decisions about how to create the best working and living conditions for graduate students.
What does unionization mean?
“A labor union or trade union is an organized group of workers who unite to make decisions about conditions affecting their work. Labor unions strive to bring economic justice to the workplace and social justice to our nation,” according to Union Plus.
What has the IU administration said?
IU administration claims graduate workers are first and foremost students, so they do not consider them to be staff employees.
This designation as non-staff members have stifled graduate workers’ unionization efforts.
Under Indiana state law, public sector employers have the capability to recognize a union or begin bargaining with one that represents its employees. However, they are not required to do so.
Graduate workers at private institutions, such as Columbia University, were allowed to unionize due a National Relations Labor Board ruling in 2016. However, since IU is a public university in Indiana, the administration is under no legal obligation to recognize the IGWC-UE.
Is striking prohibited under Indiana law?
No. Under Indiana law, only certain employee organizations, such as state educational institutions like IU are not prohibited from striking.
A strike is considered a work stoppage and an abstinence from work-related duties.
What does this all mean for undergraduates?
Some classes may be canceled, moved online or moved to some other format due to the strike.
Picket lines may extend around buildings, meaning students and faculty may have to cross the picket line to get to classes or other activities.
Graduate students in IGWC-UE and others are planning to be outside picketing each day, with events planned each day for people to participate in.