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Seeking union recognition, Indiana University graduate student workers begin strike

Justin Hicks

Indiana University graduate workers in Bloomington are on strike starting Wednesday in search of union recognition. Due to potentially dangerous weather conditions, in-person events were postponed to Thursday.

Instead, graduate workers met on Zoom to kickoff the strike.

Organizers hope to have 700 people, including undergraduates and faculty, on the picket lines Thursday at multiple places on campus.

Graduate student Valentina Luketa says the picket line will show the university that graduate workers are willing to fight for their rights.

“They want us to remain quiet," Luketa said in the Zoom meeting. "They want us to remain in line. And they want us to remain separated from each other. What we’re doing, what we have been doing and what we’re going to do on those picket lines tomorrow is come together.”

The strike will currently last a week but could be extended.

READ MORE: Indiana University rejects graduate student worker request to hold union election

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In a statement, Indiana University spokesperson Chuck Carney said the school is "disappointed" by the decision to strike. After holding over a dozen listening sessions, IU recently gave graduate workers a 5 percent raise. However it has no plans to recognize the graduate workers’ union.

In February, Indiana University rejected a request from about 1,600 graduate student workers to hold a union election contending that graduate workers were primarily students, not employees. Under state law, public employers may voluntarily recognize and bargain with unions, but aren't required to do so.

In an op-ed published by the school on April 9, dean of the graduate school James Wimbush argued against unionization.

Graduate workers have been fighting for an end to mandatory fees, a living wage, other benefits and protections for international graduate students for more than three years. Unionization efforts started in 2021.

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Phyllis Cha