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Tuesday, May 28
The Indiana Daily Student

campus administration

UPDATED: Indiana Graduate Workers Coalition to strike starting Wednesday

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The Indiana Graduate Workers Coalition approved a motion for a three-day strike in a vote concluding Monday. Following a general meeting Sunday, union members voted on the motion. 92.4% of members voted in favor of authorizing the strike and 7.6% opposed.  

The call to strike follows the proceedings in January where the IGWC delivered 1,300 signed union cards and a letter to IU President Pamela Whitten, urging a union election and negotiation, as well as a living wage minimum based on the MIT Living Wage Calculator, which amounts to a minimum of $27,973 for 10-month graduate workers and $33,568 for 12-month graduate workers. The IGWC said in a press release despite multiple follow-up attempts, there was no response.  

The organization held a town hall meeting March 22 to discuss a strike proposal. Zara Anwarzai, organizing coordinator for the IGWC, said at the meeting the proposal entails a three-day shutdown of campus activities from April 17-19.  

She said the days of action leading up to the strike would involve various activities such as picketing in front of administrative offices and aiming to gather support from members, faculty and students. She said the IGWC expect some professors to cancel classes on the strike days and estimate 400 members to participate in picket lines during the days of the protest. 

Anwarzai said the university's refusal to recognize the union has led to a relationship defined by the threat of a strike and until the union is recognized, their plan is to continue striking for better wages.  

IGWC draws inspiration from successful strikes like the California Faculty Association's five-day strike in January, Anwarzai said, which settled after just the first day of striking.  

She said the group is confident that a short, focused strike will demonstrate their influence over campus and push university administrators to respond and hold them accountable while also preparing for future strikes. 

Mark Bode, IU Executive Director of Media Relations, referred to IUB Graduate Dean David Daleke’s Jan. 12, 2024 message this year regarding enhanced financial support for Student Academic Appointees when asked for comment.  

“The campus has taken steps in recent years to improve funding for student academic appointees through raising minimum stipends and eliminating fees, while prioritizing efforts that reduce time to degree,” the message reads. “As announced in the fall of 2022, the Provost has charged me with regularly benchmarking stipends against our peers to ensure that minimum stipends for student academic appointees remain in the top half of public Big Ten institutions. Based on preliminary data, I have recommended, and the Provost has approved, a new minimum stipend of $23,000 for a half-time (20 hours/week) 10-month appointment, effective July 1, 2024. We will continue with additional benchmarking this spring in collaboration with the Bloomington Faculty Council SAA Affairs Committee and IU Institutional Analytics. Results will be presented in fall 2024 to the Provost and the Bloomington Faculty Council.” 

This article was updated to include comment from IU.

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