The following was shared with the Bloomingtonian over the weekend:

American Association of University Teachers Indiana University Bloomington Chapter
The Web: E-mail: [email protected]
Indiana University graduate workers strike
1. Why are Indiana graduate workers planning a strike?
Graduate employees have worked hard for more than three years to end fees and bring their allowances in line with the cost of living in Bloomington. A 2019 College report demonstrated how far below the living wage average benefits were. Read the Graduate Employee Strike FAQ.
2. Is striking legal in Indiana?
Yes. Strikes are recognized in state, national and international law as the necessary accompaniment to the right to collective bargaining. Over the past few years, Indiana workers at John Deere, GM, Hostess, BP have gone on strike.
3. Can public employees unionize in Indiana?
Yes. Public school teachers, for example, are unionized with ISTA, and the police are unionized with ISFOP. As IU Policy HR-12-20 recognizes, “The right of employees to independently associate, whether that association be known as a union or otherwise, is recognized in the Indiana, and there is no legal prohibition on collective association.” presentation of their employment interests to public officials responsible for setting terms and conditions of employment (Indiana Attorney General Opinion #55). Also note Indiana AG’s Notice No. 22 on Collective Bargaining Rights Effective for Public Sector Employees.
4. What about here at IUB? Are there other unions on the IU Bloomington campus?
Yes. IUB has at least three unions on campus (CWA, AFSCME, IATSE).
5. But can public employees strike?
There are some limitations, but yes, Indiana University workers can strike legally. The Indiana Code (4-15-17-1) explicitly exempts public educational institutions from the strike ban. In fact, interfering with the work organization is a violation of the Indiana Code (22-7-1-3).
6. Is it legal for teachers to support a strike? Is it a breach of contract to support a strike?
Yes, it is your first amendment right to support a strike; and, no, it’s not a breach of contract. Supporting a strike falls squarely within the protection of academic freedom.
7. How can I avoid crossing a picket line or performing “scab” work?
The Supreme Court and the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) protect your right to refuse to cross a legal picket line. The decision not to cross a picket line or do the work of a striker is a matter of ethics and loyalty. Refusing to cross shows your support for the picketing workers, the union and the labor movement as a whole. Crossing a picket line shows support for the employer in the dispute.
8. What about teaching my class on Zoom or in another location? What about scoring AIs on strike? Graduate workers ask you to define what it means to support their strike. This may mean modifying your program to include an ‘independent learning module’, for a day or for a few weeks; this may mean teaching a unit on labor history; this may mean taking your course elsewhere or online. Talk to the AIs in your department to help you determine what supporting the strike means. Regarding striking AI scoring – scoring for an instructor
striking record is the replacement workforce. If you’re the assigned instructor working with AIs, check them out. Certified instructors care about their students; at the same time, strikes must be disruptive to be effective. Communication is key to finding the right balance.

American Association of University Teachers Indiana University Bloomington Chapter
The Web: E-mail: [email protected]
9. What should I tell my undergraduate students?
That there is a labor dispute between the graduate employees and the administration. That you urge the administration to reach a fair settlement with the graduating employees so that each can be taught by fairly compensated instructors and make timely academic progress. Consider adding a unit on the labor movement.
10. What about teaching my grad class?
The IGWC-EU stressed that the strike is not intended to interfere with academic progress. If a grad student interprets attending class as crossing a picket line, consider making other arrangements to ensure academic progress. Suggest ways these students can meet independently to keep pace with the reading.
11. Would a graduate union conflict with faculty academic freedom?
No. AAUP has been the leading organization defining and defending academic freedom in the United States for more than 100 years. In an amicus brief filed with the National Labor Relations Board in the Columbia University case (NLRB 2016), the AAUP argued that “academic freedom is promoted through collective bargaining.” Further, the AAUP argues that collective bargaining does not harm mentorship relationships between faculty and students, rather reflecting the reality that employed students perform the work of the university in the performance of their duties.
12. Would a graduate contract conflict with BFC policy?
No. A graduate employee contract is negotiated to conform to existing policy. NLRB (2016) ruled in only
this question: “there is no good reason to doubt that unions and universities will be able to negotiate contractual language to delineate mutually satisfactory limits of their respective rights and obligations”.
13. Does a union of graduate employees lower employee morale?
An empirical study cited in the 2016 Columbia decision says no. Recent reports in The Chronicle of Higher Education and the Economic Policy Institute also say no. New graduate student unions have been certified at Harvard, Tufts, Columbia, Brown, The New School, Brandeis, NYU, American University, and Illinois State. These new unions—plus a 50-plus-year history of graduate employee unions at public universities, beginning with the University of Wisconsin in 1969, and including Michigan State University, the institution where the provost and president have both been full professors – demonstrate that unionization is compatible with the highest academic ideals.
14. By joining the United Electrical Workers (UE), do graduate students bring a third party to campus? Union locals affiliate with a national organization for the same reason you are probably affiliated with others in your insurance policies or retirement accounts – mutuality allows a small group to pool resources with a larger group, so he can better deal with weather disturbances and better exercise his voice (which is why we leave the TIAA-CREF and Anthem groups on campus). The EU will help the IGWC to formulate negotiating positions, provide legal advice, share communication infrastructure and resources for organizing.
15. Who are the United Electrical Workers?
The EU is a democratic, member-driven union, founded in 1936 specifically to oppose widespread racial and gender discrimination in the AFL. It is widely regarded as one of the most democratic and progressive unions in the country. It represents graduate workers at the University of New Mexico and currently organizes graduate workers at MIT. The EU approach to collective bargaining is based on local autonomy and member participation.
16. There is already a Graduate and Professional Student Government (GPSG), what does a union do?
The GPSG has been a major university-sponsored organization for graduate students since 1983 and has lobbied the administration on important issues ranging from library fines and health benefits to the creation of G 901 courses. But it does not It is not an independent organization recognized as a bargaining agent for graduate employees, responsible for negotiating salaries, benefits and working conditions with the administration. The GPSG unanimously passed a resolution supporting the unionization of graduate workers.

American Association of University Teachers Indiana University Bloomington Chapter
The Web: E-mail: [email protected]
17. What will help graduate employees? Sign the Non-Retaliation Pledge. Urge your ministry to join other ministries in issuing such a commitment. Join a picket line or a solidarity day. Participate or organize a seminar. Add an independent learning module to your program, for a day or for a few weeks. Do not rate the work of an assigned instructor who is on strike. Do not teach sections of your RNs. Donate to the strike fund.
18. What will hurt them?
Cross physical picket lines. Assess the work of striking AIs. Teach the sections of your RNs. Share the names of the strikers with the administration. Grant or request administrative access to your AI’s Canvas sites. Any kind of retaliation in counseling, mentoring, or letters of recommendation, or in the evaluation of work or academic work.

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