Highlights from the April strike #1

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Over the next months, we’ll post our favorite fragments from April’s IU-wide strike.

Strike out, but ‘crimson flu’ coming

By Bryce Smedley.  Special to the H-T April 8, 2013.

*This guest column was submitted by Bryce Smedley of Bloomington, former CWA 4730 union president and IU support staff.*

A general “strike” is being organized by Indiana University students who feel the brunt of an unfairly priced higher education system that forces upon them years of student loan repayment and debt. Support of this action by Indiana University support staff is warranted despite the fact that official staff strikes, even by the representative union, CWA 4730, are prohibited by the board of trustees under the mutual agreement of cooperation.

As the former president of CWA 4730 and no longer an employee of Indiana University, I finally have the freedom to speak my mind without putting my former union colleagues and other support staff in jeopardy. So, let me take the bold step to call upon all Indiana University support staff to strike alongside our students and stand up for a meaningful and symbolically important cause rather than allow this opportunity to slip by.

Here is why you should strike if you work for Indiana University as support staff:

You are some of the lowest paid Big Ten university employees and barely receive annual raises while the top income earners on campus receive huge pay raises each year. In fact, you have been asked in some years to forgo a raise — to sacrifice for the university. As loyal and hardworking employees, you do this, thinking that everyone will sacrifice together. Unfortunately, while this thinking appears to be fulfilled for a short time, top administrators eventually receive raises retroactively, but not you.

Most of the support staff is now doing the jobs of two or three people. The university has failed to maintain adequate staffing for the work required, and in addition, has failed to offer raises for the additional compensatory work conducted by current support staff.

As existing support staff, you end up paying more for health insurance. Almost every year, you are asked to pay more and more. And while you can complain or call upon your union to advocate for you, you can never strike as a means to a just end as this action is forbidden by the IU Board of Trustees.

Thus, you suffer year to year. At times, you can’t make ends meet; you struggle to pay the bills; and you remain an afterthought while top administrators line their pockets with higher raises on the backs of your children who each year pay higher tuition to attend Indiana University.

Now let me be clear: On April 11 and 12, you cannot strike or you could be fired. But you have accrued sick days, and I hear that a bout of the “crimson flu” has spread about the campus. If you don’t stand up for your own job and for the injustice faced by students and staff alike, then who will?

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