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The Indiana Daily Student

campus administration student life

LIVE UPDATES: Scenes, news from the IGWC strike picket line

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The Indiana Graduate Workers Coalition began its “Three Days for a Raise” strike at 10 a.m. Wednesday outside Ballantine Hall.  

During the strike graduate workers will picket outside different academic buildings for three days, and some will cease paid instructional work like teaching, grading, holding office hours and proctoring exams. Wednesday, when the strike began, is IU Day, a fundraising opportunity for the university. 

The strike comes after over five years of fighting for better working conditions and higher pay. The IGWC previously went on a month-long strike in Spring 2022, which resulted in wage increases. 

This year, the IGWC delivered 1,300 signed union cards and a letter to IU President Pamela Whitten, urging a union election, negotiation and a living wage minimum Jan. 17. The IGWC said in a press release this week despite multiple follow-up attempts, there was no response.   

The IGWC said on their website many graduate workers make $22,600 for a 10-month contract. According to a document from the Office of the Vice Provost for Finance and Administration, the minimum stipend for a 10-month graduate worker appointment is $22,000. In the press release this week, the IGWC said the living wage for a single person living in Bloomington, based on the MIT Living Wage Calculator, is $41,441.   

The strike also comes after IU Bloomington faculty overwhelming passed votes of no confidence in IU President Pamela Whitten, Provost Rahul Shrivastav and Vice Provost for Faculty and Academics Carrie Docherty on Tuesday. 

The Indiana Daily Student will bring you live updates, scenes and news from the picket line this week. 

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Aaron Shinn, a graduate worker at IU, shouts into a megaphone April 19, 2024, outside of Woodburn Hall. The Indiana Graduate Workers Coalition has been picketing as part of its “Three Days For a Raise” strike.

April 19 

11:30 a.m. outside Woodburn Hall 

Members and allies of the IGWC started their final day of picketing at 10 a.m. Friday. The workers circle in front of the building, chanting and holding signs.  

“IU works, when we do!” the members chant.  

David Garner, the IGWC’s communications chair, said the energy on the picket line has been high over the past two days. Since most graduate workers teach classes on Friday, Garner said, the IGWC expects it to be their biggest day. 

“We've gotten a lot of positive feedback from faculty, from staffers,” Garner said. “A lot of undergraduates have been joining us on the picket line.” 

IU administration, Garner said, refuses to talk with the IGWC. Until the administration responds, he said, the IGWC will plan larger collective actions, though there is no potential for continued strike action this semester after Friday.  

We’re asking all universities in the state to come join us for a collective action down the road,” Garner said. 

Liam James Kingsley, a doctoral candidate in history, said many undergraduates have joined the picket line or expressed their support. 

“We're every day in the classroom with undergrads and getting to see that back and forth in that positive relationship has been really awesome,” Kingsley said.  

Maggie Fitzgerald, a graduate student who was at IU during the IGWC’s first strike in 2022, said this time the IGWC has more faculty support up front. The strike falling after faculty’s vote of no confidence, Fitzgerald said, has given the strike more urgency. The IGWC has asked faculty to cancel classes in support, she said, which the group did not do in 2022. 

“It's very enriching to see the momentum increase again, for the explicit reason to have a union that will give us like a more long-lasting structural support in case inflation changes and we need to keep fighting for a living wage,” Fitzgerald said. 

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Graduate worker Katharina Schmid-Schmidsfelden holds a megaphone April 19, 2024 in front of Woodburn Hall. Being an international student, she has been limited to working 20 hours a week by her visa.

April 18

3 p.m. outside Global and International Studies Building 

IGWC members walked to 10th Street one more time before returning outside the Global and International Studies Building and dispersing for the day. 

The picket line is scheduled to restart at 10 a.m. Friday at Woodburn Hall. 

2:30 p.m. outside Global and International Studies Building 

Light clouds dot the sky as IGWC members return to the sidewalk west of the Global and International Studies Building.  

They take another 10-minute break before Michael Martin, cinema and media studies professor at The Media School, appears before them. 

“You are not alone,” he said to them. “History is on our side.” 

Martin said he attended the vote on Tuesday, voting no confidence in Indiana University President Pamela Whitten, Provost Rahul Shrivastav and Vice Provost for Faculty and Academics Carrie Docherty. 

“The institution is increasingly distancing itself from the social as well as intellectual mission of the university,” he said. “This is a development certainly not unique to IU; it's happening across the nation.” 

IGWC members cheer for Martin and continue walking laps and chanting outside the building. 

1:30 p.m. outside Global and International Studies Building and Herman B Wells Library 

IGWC members take a break from picketing, seeking refuge in the sliver of shade provided by the Global and International Studies Building. 

They split into informal small groups, drinking water and talking to one another. 

After 10 minutes, the picket continues in a different direction. Nearly 50 IGWC members leave the sidewalk outside the Global and International Studies Building and walk in front of Herman B Wells Library toward Eagleson Ave. They chant, “Pamela lies!” and “Union now!” 

They make their way to Tenth Street and are met with honks from passing cars before stopping and walking laps on the sidewalk between the library and the O’Neil School of Public and Environmental Affairs. 

“We're workers united, we'll never be divided,” they chant. 

They continue down Tenth Street and cross the street at the crosswalk in front of Hodge Hall before circling back toward the library. 

1 p.m. outside Global and International Studies Building 

The sun shines on the second day of the strike. IGWC members picket on the sidewalk east of the Global and International Studies Building, chanting identical messages from yesterday. 

Members are stationed outside several entrances to building and Herman B Wells Library’s south entrance, telling students passing by, “Don't be a nerd. Skip class.” 

An IUPD car is parked in the parking lot outside the building. 

Banners and a tent with veggie wraps, chips and water are set up on the grass nearby as both the outside temperature and the strike’s shouts rise. 

April 17

2:20 p.m. outside Ballantine Hall 

The picket took a short break to take a group picture on the stairs of Ballantine. Chanting, “This is what a union looks like!” The group held up a fist in solidarity for the photo. 

Picketers continue to stand in front of every entrance of Ballantine, asking students to skip class in support. 

“Honk for the union!” graduate student Bryce Greene yells through a megaphone at cars passing by.  

The picket line is scheduled to end at 3 p.m. 

1:50 p.m. outside Ballantine Hall 

The strikers continue to picket Ballantine Hall, accompanied by chants criticizing the administration.  

Two IUPD officers spoke to some picketers, requesting they keep the staircase clear, as some of them were previously sitting on the entire staircase. The union instead left one picketer on the staircase with their largest sign, reading, “IU works when we do.” 

“We’re workers united, we’ll never be defeated,” they continue to chant.  

1:20 p.m. 

IU Student Government expressed support for the strike in an Instagram story post featuring a photo outside of the Ballantine Hall picket. 

“IUSG SUPPORTS @indianagrads!” the post reads. 

The 2023-2024 Student Body Congress passed CEA 1035 in March reaffirming our support for the Indiana Graduate Workers Coalition, and their effort of seeking union recognition by the IU administration,” IUSG Press Secretary Aidan Chism said in a statement to the IDS. IUSG as an organization supports the workers right to unionize, along with support for a union election. These policies were transmitted to the Board of Trustees in March. The post on our Instagram story is a statement of organization wide support of the Coalition.” 

1 p.m. outside Ballantine Hall 

After an hour lunch break, the IGWC has returned to picketing Ballantine Hall. Chanting “Class is canceled,” a group of around 70 graduate workers blocked the East Kirkwood Avenue entrance. The coalition also has students posted at every entrance of Ballantine, asking students to not attend class in support of the strike.  

“Ask your instructors why class is canceled,” one picketer said to a student walking into the hall.  

Graduate student Bryce Greene continued to lead the chants on a megaphone, calling out IU President Pamela Whitten and Provost Rahul Shrivastav following the faculty vote of no confidence that passed with 93.1% Wednesday. 

“Can someone tell me exactly what the provost does?” Greene said. “When I say ‘Pamela,’ you say, ‘Good riddance,’” he added. 

Several cars honked in support as they drove by, with drivers waving and shouting with the group. 

Greene addressed multiple groups of students walking by, asking if they knew why the union was on strike and continuing to ask them not to attend class.  

Several students stalled outside the building, unsure of whether they could attend class or not. Students continued to trickle into the building despite the strike.  

Editor’s Note: Bryce Greene previously worked as an opinion columnist at the Indiana Daily Student.

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IU graduate student Ann Campbell holds an Indiana Graduate Workers Coaltion shirt reading "United We Bargain, Divided We Beg" April 17, 2024, outside Ballantine Hall in Bloomington. Campbell tried to sell these shirts to tour groups as they walked past the building.

11:30 a.m. outside Ballantine Hall 

Graduate student Ann Campbell sells red, white and black shirts in front of Beck Chapel with “United we bargain, divided we beg,” printed on the front. She holds a clipboard with QR codes to donate to IGWC’s GoFundMe and pay union dues. 

IGWC members hoist two banners on the steps leading to Ballantine Hall. One reads, “IU works when we do,” and the other reads, “Grads work! Unions support, protect and unite!” 

Katharina Schmid-Schmidsfelden, a graduate student in the German Studies Department, said the reason for the strike is to fight for union recognition and a living wage. 

Schmid-Schmidsfelden, who is from Austria, cannot work more than 20 hours a week and can only be paid by IU because of her F-1 Visa. 

“Bloomington is one of the most expensive cities in Indiana,” she said. “It is very hard to make a living, especially as an international student.” 

The sun that shone on the strike at the beginning is replaced by a series of dark clouds and sporadic raindrops, and the members marching in front of Ballantine has grown to north of 70 members. 

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Picketers hold signs reading "Let Us Vote for Union Recognition" April 17, 2024, outside Ballantine Hall in Bloomington. The Indiana Graduate Workers Coalition approved a motion for a three-day strike in a vote concluding on April 15, 2024.

10:30 a.m. outside Ballantine Hall 

The strike has begun with passionate and urgent chants of “What's appalling? Admin stalling,” “Union now” and “Give us a raise,” echoing outside the main entrance of Ballantine Hall. 

More than 50 members of the Indiana Graduate Workers Coalition walk laps in front of the building, complete with signs reading “Let us vote for union recognition.” 

“We started a card drive, and we submitted over 1300 union cards to President Whitten in January,” IGWC Communication Chair David Garner said. “We submitted the letters several times, asking to negotiate with us and we got zero response from the administration.” 

A tent is set up covering two tables with snacks and drinks outside the main entrance, with an Indiana University Police Department car parked nearby outside the Chemistry Building. 

Other members occupy entrances to Ballantine Hall, handing out flyers and telling undergraduate students to skip class. Some students stop to listen, while others either walk in or ignore the members. 

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Vanille wears pins reading "We are the majority" and "Ready to Strike" on her collar as she sits with her owner, Ph.D. student Hicham Bouhlal, on April 17, 2024, outside Ballantine Hall in Bloomington. "She's striking with us," Bouhlal said.

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