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BLOOMINGTON, Ind.–The graduate students on strike at Indiana University won’t be punished for expressing their concerns, says the school. But, some classes have been canceled because of the absence of graduate assistants who have been on the picket lines since last Wednesday.

“At our current compensation right now, we cannot survive the next year. That is clear, the inflation is insane,” said Quan Le Thien, an IU Research Assistant in the Department of Physics, talking to our newsgathering partners at WISH TV. “We think that union recognition for graduate workers is the only pathway towards a mechanism to protect us from mistreatment.”

Thien is one of about 2,000 grad students who have been picketing at various places on campus, asking for better pay and recognition as full-time workers.

As part-time employees they legally do not have the right to go on strike, and could be fired with no repercussions for the university. They are also asking for healthcare benefits and childcare, as well.

The students got a five percent raise this year.

One of the purposes of the strike is to get protections that would keep them from being able to be fired at the whim of the school. Some have also said they want to see the fees they pay each semester either reduced or eliminated.

Most IU grad students are paid about $18,000 per year for their work.At the same time, they are working on graduate degrees, which could entitle them to commensurate wages once they are part of the workforce, post-graduate school.