Indiana University Bloomington graduate students rally for union recognition, living wage

Graduate students from the Indiana Graduate Workers Coalition (IGWC) rallied for “more say, more pay” in front of the iconic Sample Gates at Indiana University (IU) Bloomington on Thursday. After striking in May of 2022, the IU administration conceded to many of the IGWC’s demands for graduate students outside of official union recognition, but inflation and other concerns have led to a new wave of protest activity. 

The IGWC’s goal was to get student signatures for union cards, requesting that the group be recognized “as the exclusive bargaining representative of graduate employees at IU” and that graduate student pay “meet the living wage minimum,” which is between $27,973-$33,568. 

Over 500 students signed cards during the almost-two-hour event. 

[RELATED: Why small government and free markets demand the UAW strike]

The Students’ Concerns

Concerns of the group include that the promised 3% pay increase excluded first-year graduate students who received a fellowship the previous year, according to their website. 

Courtesy of Indiana Graduate Workers Coalition (Twitter)

Their website also mentions that the median rent for a single bedroom unit has risen 28% in Bloomington over the past year. 

“A 3% increase is neither commensurate with inflation nor does it get graduate workers on our campus to a living wage in Bloomington,” the IGWC said in an open letter to David Daleke, Dean of the Indiana University Bloomington Graduate School. “The raise excludes incoming first-year graduate workers and graduate workers who received fellowships last year, in effect, punishing fellowship recipients for their success.”

Affiliation with United Electrical Workers (UE) and left-wing stances

The IGWC is affiliated with the United Electrical Workers (UE). From their website, the students refer to themselves as a “militant, democratic union.” The UE is affiliated with numerous graduate student unions across the country, partially because of the level of autonomy it grants its member organizations. 

Both the IGWC and the UE have taken stances on other political issues outside of organizing for representation and a living wage.

For example, the UE recently condemned the Supreme Court’s ruling against affirmative action and the ruling protecting the right of a religious web designer to refuse to design a website that violated her religious beliefs.

“Centuries of economic exploitation have resulted in a major racial wealth gap and, consequently, an uneven playing field for most Black students,” the group’s officers said in a statement, also claiming that in deciding 303 Creative LLC v. Elenis, the Supreme Court  “endorsed the right of a web designer in Colorado to flout that state’s anti-discrimination laws and openly discriminate against LGBTQ+ couples.”

The IGWC platform also advocates for “protections for reproductive rights.” Whether that refers to birth control or abortion access is unclear, although Indiana recently instituted a partial ban on the latter. 

[RELATED: Who will enforce Indiana’s partial abortion ban?]

This is an ongoing investigation. The Collegiate Commons has reached out to the IGWC and Dean of the IU Bloomington Graduate School David Daleke for comment, and this article will be updated accordingly. 

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