Boston University Graduate Student Workers Strike For Better Pay, Improved Healthcare, and Childcare Subsidies


Boston University graduate student workers launched a strike on Monday, demanding better pay, improved health care coverage, and guaranteed childcare subsidies, among other essential needs.

Boston University Graduate Student Workers Go on Strike

(Photo : WIKIMEDIA COMMONS / Cmcnicoll)

Union Negotiations and Strike Initiation

The Boston University Graduate Workers Union (BUGWU), affiliated with Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 509, has been in negotiations with the university for the past eight months. After failing to reach a satisfactory agreement, grad workers voted two weeks ago to authorize their bargaining team to call for a strike.

BUGWU represents approximately 3,000 grad workers. The strike commenced with a noon rally, marking the beginning of a collective effort to address the longstanding grievances faced by graduate student workers at Boston University.

The key issues driving the strike include demands for fair and livable wages that reflect the high cost of living in Boston. Many graduate students struggle to make ends meet on stipends that fall below the city's living wage standards. Additionally, there is a pressing need for comprehensive healthcare coverage to ensure that graduate student workers have access to essential medical services without facing financial hardship. Moreover, the demand for guaranteed childcare subsidies highlights the challenges faced by graduate student parents in balancing their academic pursuits with family responsibilities.

READ ALSO: California State University Faculty Strike Ends Same Day with Gains in Paid Leave and Other Benefits

Worker Demands and University Response

David Foley, president of SEIU Local 509, expressed frustration with the university's stance in a news release, stating, "BU’s conduct continues to signal that they do not value the contributions of the workers that keep this university running." The statement underscored the necessity of providing equitable compensation and sufficient assistance to graduate student workers, pivotal in advancing the university's educational and research missions.

Reacting to the strike, the university released a statement recognizing the indispensable role graduate students play in enriching the university community. However, it also expressed concerns about the potential disruptions caused by the strike and its impact on teaching, research, and student life. The university reiterated its commitment to engaging in constructive dialogue with the union to address the needs of graduate student workers while minimizing disruptions to campus operations.

As negotiations between the union and the university continue, there is hope that both parties will reach a mutually beneficial agreement that addresses the concerns raised by graduate student workers. However, the duration of the strike remains uncertain, and it is essential for both sides to remain committed to finding a resolution that ensures fair and equitable working conditions for all graduate student workers at Boston University.

Increasing Trend of Higher Education Worker Strikes

The strike at Boston University is part of a broader trend of labor activism within the higher education sector. In recent years, there has been a significant increase in strikes among higher education workers, with many workers demanding better wages, improved benefits, and greater job security.

According to a fall report, there were 20 reported strikes among higher education workers between January 2022 and the first half of 2023, representing nearly one-third of all strikes in the past decade. This trend underscores the growing dissatisfaction among workers with the prevailing labor conditions in academia and highlights the need for meaningful reforms to ensure fair and sustainable working conditions for all higher education workers.

RELATED ARTICLE: NYU's Instructors Elect Union, Forming the Largest Non-Tenure Faculty Union in Private Higher Education

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