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Season 3, Episode 94

Indiana graduate students fight for union recognition

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Guest Name:

Cole Nelson

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Indiana Graduate Workers Coalition (IGWC) Union Representative Cole Nelson joined the America’s Work Force Union Podcast and discussed his group’s efforts to be recognized as a union by the administration at Indiana University.

Affiliated with the United Electrical Workers, the IGWC wants to represent 1,800 graduate workers at Indiana University. In April, the union held a strike-authorization vote with 97.8 percent of ballots cast in favor of striking. The strike lasted four weeks and has since been put on hiatus, but the Union may re-engage the strike in the fall, he said.

Nelson said the graduate workers were striking for higher pay and union recognition. He said graduate students are forced to make “a deal with the devil,” where they assume the work and responsibilities of what amounts to a full-time job for a stipend that falls about $15,000 below the estimated cost of living. Graduate workers are therefore entrenched in a life of poverty, he explained. Every semester, the university also charges exorbitantly high student fees, $700 for domestic graduate students and $1,000 for international students, that further increases the financial burden these workers carry, he added.

During the strike, the administration threatened to fire graduate workers in mass, Nelson said. The Union is currently writing its constitution and preparing to possibly re-engage the strike this fall, he added.

Listen to the entire episode to learn more about these topics.

America’s Work Force is the only daily labor podcast in the US and has been on the air since 1993, supplying listeners with useful, relevant input into their daily lives through fact-finding features, in-depth interviews, informative news segments and practical consumer reports. America’s Work Force is committed to providing an accessible venue in which America's workers and their families can hear discussion on important, relevant topics such as employment, healthcare, legislative action, labor-management relations, corporate practices, finances, local and national politics, consumer reports and labor issues.

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