ISU’s unionized graduate workers announced tonight at the Academic Senate meeting that they have entered a “strike readiness” phase of negotiations, following the most recent negotiating session with the federal mediator earlier today at 1 pm. Graduate teaching assistants voted overwhelmingly to form the Graduate Workers Union in October 2018 and have been negotiating with ISU for their first labor contract since October 2019.
At today’s negotiations, graduate workers presented a bold package to settle the contract and place ISU TAs squarely within the same salaries as the nearest unionized graduate workers at a comparable institution, SIU-Carbondale. ISU acknowledged the significant movement on the part of the Union but, three hours later, responded with more poverty proposals that would not provide all TAs a raise — and no break at all on exorbitant fees — even as fees are scheduled to rise this year.
ISU insisted on illegal language limiting TAs’ free speech rights to advocate legal union activities on campus and refused to allow non-discrimination language that would be enforceable through the contractual grievance procedure. The Union expressed disappointment that the University did not budge at all on key issues that keep graduate workers in poverty.
Graduate workers at ISU frequently visit the campus food pantry, while many are forced to give back large portions – in some cases all – of their monthly paychecks in the form of exorbitant fees, which the University charges them to work there.