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Boston University’s Residential Staff to Commence Strike This Friday

The second group of students, totaling 300 individuals, has initiated a concurrent strike at the university, aligning with graduate students who commenced their strike in late March.

Residence life employees declared on Thursday their intention to commence a four-day strike beginning Friday, standing in solidarity with graduate student workers who have been striking for almost three weeks.

Around 300 resident life students, comprising resident assistants, graduate resident assistants, and graduate hall assistants, will commence their strike with a rally at Marsh Plaza on the university campus at noon on Friday. Represented by SEIU Local 509, the group has lodged multiple complaints of unfair practices against the university during eight months of negotiations for a contract, as stated in a communication provided to by the union.

The group is advocating for a wage of $15 per hour, an expanded meal plan, in addition to the already provided free housing offered by the university.

Jasmine A. Richardson, a resident assistant at BU, expressed, “Housing as compensation does not acknowledge the critical role we fulfill around the clock at the university.”

Boston University was unreachable for comment on Wednesday afternoon.

Demands of Residence Life Workers

Residence life workers are tasked with programming in their halls, overseeing the on-call office, crisis prevention, conflict mediation, and enforcement of residential regulations, as outlined by the union. BU mentions that these workers supervise over 11,000 students in 150 residences, dubbing the program “one of the largest and most intricate residence life programs among universities nationwide.”

Richardson highlighted the challenges faced by many workers due to unpaid training time and managing high RA-to-student ratios. She emphasized, “BU has the resources to invest in us as workers, and settling a fair contract would bring us closer to a more equitable campus for all.”

Apart from enhanced training, including CPR and Narcan administration, residence life workers are seeking summer health and safety measures like air conditioning, backpay, and more.

Kira Levenson, a graduate resident assistant, stated, “We need training that more accurately reflects our duties so that we can foster a safer environment on campus for everyone.”

Ongoing Strike by Graduate Workers

Residence life workers mark the second group to strike within a month due to failed labor negotiations with the university.

BU’s Graduate Workers Union (BUGWU) engaged in eight months of discussions with the university for improved pay and comprehensive healthcare, among other requests. Represented by SEIU 509, BUGWU has filed over five unfair labor practice charges against the university.

The graduate student union accused the university of “reckless strike-breaking action” by introducing new payroll attestation forms for graduate students. Despite BU withholding pay from striking students, those who continued working but did not submit the form reportedly did not receive their pay, as mentioned by BUGWU.

Kenneth Lutchen, university provost and chief academic officer ad interim, expressed concerns regarding the lack of progress on crucial matters such as benefits and compensation despite some agreements with BUGWU. He emphasized the importance of resolving the contract expediently.

While residence life workers plan a four-day strike from Friday onwards, graduate student workers are determined to continue until their demands are addressed.

David Foley, president of SEIU Local 509, stated, “As they join forces with graduate workers on strike, our union’s message is clear: we demand respect, fair treatment, and dignity in the workplace for all workers at BU.”