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Bloomington Faculty Vote In Support Of Graduate Student Employee Union

The following press release was sent to the Bloomingtonian Wednesday:

Bloomington Faculty Vote Overwhelmingly in Support of Graduate Student Employee Unionization Efforts in Historic Vote of Entire Faculty—Results Announced May 23.

American Association of University Professors—Indiana University Bloomington Chapter.

An electronic vote of all Bloomington faculty has expressed overwhelming support for efforts of the Indiana University graduate student employees to seek union recognition.

Between April 13 and the end of the spring semester, graduate student employees at Indiana University Bloomington, organizing with the United Electrical Workers, struck for campus recognition. The strike was temporarily suspended on May 10th for the summer, with plans for broader and deeper participation should the strike resume in the fall. Faculty on the Bloomington campus were galvanized to support graduate employees by the anti-union response by the campus administration which refused any dialogue with representatives of the union, the Indiana Graduate Workers Coalition-United Electrical Workers (IGWC-UE). The standoff between the graduate organizers and the administration led to increasing involvement by faculty over the course of the 2022 spring semester. A resolution calling on the provost and administration to begin dialogue with the union was passed with a roll-call vote at a special meeting of the Bloomington Faculty Council (BFC) on the first day of the strike. With no response to the resolution after two weeks, members of the Graduate Faculty Council and the Bloomington chapter of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) convened an emergency faculty town hall meeting at which faculty organized a petition calling on the BFC Executive Committee to convene, in accordance with the rules of the faculty constitution, a special all-Bloomington faculty meeting, the first one since 2005. The petition, which had four times the required number of signatories, proposed resolutions that would discuss, among other things: voluntary union recognition by the administration; faculty authority over associate instructor appointments; no retaliations against graduate students for participation in the strike; and a potential no-confidence vote in the provost for failure to engage graduate employees. The faculty council executive committee convened the meeting for May 10th, the day after campus commencement. Despite the late date, the meeting, held in the cavernous IU Auditorium, had a turnout of over 722 faculty members. Although the no-confidence item had been removed, two resolutions from the town hall petition appeared on the agenda, one reasserting faculty authority over graduate instructor appointments and emphasizing existing due-process protections (and for calling for an immediate end to the provost’s non-reappointments) and the other calling on the Board of Trustees and the Provost to set up the framework for voluntary union recognition and to begin immediate negotiations. At historic May 10th meeting, the administration-friendly items were either withdrawn or voted down, and the two resolutions supporting the graduate employees passed 683-39 and 623-75 respectively. Although there was a quorum for conducting business, at least 800 faculty members had to be present to ratify the resolutions, so they sent out to all faculty for an electronic vote the following week. The results, reported by the BFC on Monday, May 23rd, confirmed the clear will of the faculty to see the union recognized, with the first resolution passed with a vote of 1605 in favor to 308 against (83.8% yes) and the second passed with 1404 in favor to 508 against (73.4% yes). Faculty expect clear steps from the Board of Trustees and senior administration to establish a framework for graduate employees at IU to elect union representation for collective bargaining. The IGWC-UE has indicated that its members are prepared to strike in September unless the Bloomington administration demonstrates it is willing to work with them to improve graduate education at Indiana University.

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