BU Graduate Workers Union

Our wins

Being a union means collectively fighting for a better workplace, and we aren’t waiting for a collective bargaining agreement to start that fight. We already have already taken action together on key issues and won several concessions from the University. Click on an issue below to learn more about what we fought for and won.

In January 2023, the Provost announced that grad workers would not receive the standard 2.5% cost-of-living (COL) increase in September. Now that we have formed a union (official as of Dec. 7, 2022), it is unlawful for BU to change ‘the status quo’ as we enter into negotiations. Given that we have received a COL increase annually for years, withholding it is in violation of the status quo law.

In response, BUGWU representatives reached out to the admin asking them to reverse this decision (which they declined). We then filed an Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) with the National Labor Relations Board. In addition, hundreds of students, faculty, and community members organized and participated in a letter writing campaign on Giving Day to let alumni know about the situation before deciding whether to donate to BU this year.

Ultimately, our actions pushed BU to reverse their decision! BU stated that the minimum 12 month stipend for 2023-24 would be $39,401 (a 3% increase from last year’s $38,253)!

In late spring 2022, grad workers began a campaign for a 50% MBTA discount, the same discount that faculty and other employees at BU already receive. The high cost of commuting especially impacts grad workers who are required to come into campus every day, like PhDs in the laboratory sciences. We collected signatures, shared grad worker testimonials, and hand-delivered a petition to BU President Brown’s office. Over 600 grad workers, undergrad, faculty, and staff supporters signed the petition requesting the discount.

Our in-person action resulted in an immediate response by the administration: the following month, BU raised the salaries for all PhD workers by 1.5%, totaling well over $1 million. While we consider this a success, it is not enough, and we will continue to fight for transit equity as part of our ongoing unionization campaign.

In January 2022, as our city and our campus saw their highest COVID-19 case counts yet, several of our disabled organizing committee members led a campaign to demand better protections for BU instructors, researchers, students, and staff. Our primary actions included holding multiple Town Hall meetings and circulating a petition regarding BU workers’ safety needs. Over 400 BU workers and students signed our petition during the single week it was in circulation. This ultimately led to the administration making tens of thousands of free N95 masks available to all students, staff, and faculty.