Indiana Graduate Workers Coalition-United Electrical Workers are set to vote on Sept. 25 to decide whether to continue last semester’s strike which was suspended over the summer.
Quan Le Thien is an international graduate worker, who is a second-year physics PhD student. Thien is also an organizing officer and chair of the faculty committee with IGWC-UE.
If the vote for the strike goes through, Thien said it will last for two weeks.
After the two weeks, IGWC-UE will give IU’s administration time to have a conversation with them, Thien said. If that does not happen, there will be another vote to continue the strike.
“Throughout the summer we have been consistently sending email after email to the provost, to the Board of Trustees, to the task force, asking for us to participate in a meaningful dialogue with them,” Thein said.
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IGWC-UE did not get any responses back from the emails they sent. IGWC-UE only wants to have a dialogue with the administration, however they continue to refuse, Thien said.
“We do not want to go on strike, but they push us into this position,” Thien said.
The IGWC-UE's fight for union recognition is still an ongoing issue even with stipends being increased and mandatory fees waved.
Nora Weber, a sociology PhD candidate and IGWC-UE research committee chair, said they were very excited to see the end of the mandatory fees.
“It has been one of our large platform items since as early as 2017, 2018,” Weber said.
Weber said it was also thrilling to see the raise of the minimum stipend being $15,600 increasing up to $22,000.
“We always want to be clear that that is still not the cost of living in Bloomington,” Weber said.
Weber said they have been trying to work with the university for years to end mandatory fees and increase stipends, but these changes were not addressed until the strike in the spring.
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“They try to say it was a task force that did it,” Weber said. “Well, that task force recommended several of our own platform items that we’ve had out there for several years.”
Chelsea Brinda, the coordinator of the general assembly in IGWC-UE and a PhD student in teacher education and curriculum studies, said the administration has not made any comments to IGWC-UE about the vote to strike.
The plan for the vote to strike will stay unless the administration communicates with IGWC-UE which could have an effect on their plans, Brinda said.
Union recognition is important to ensure that graduate workers’ needs are fulfilled and protected, Brinda said. They would attain the ability to bargain over their conditions and certain departments would not have to wait another 10 years for a pay rise, Brinda said.
“I’m motivated and I believe that it will result in more positive changes for grad workers on campus,” Brinda said.