Twitter  Instagram

Boston Graduate Workers Union


Bargaining Session 10: Summary

🎉  On Wednesday, January 24th, BUGWU met BU at the table for our tenth bargaining session for a strong contract 🎉 

Going forward we do not have any more proposals to make from our side. We are still waiting for counter proposals on areas that are very important to us -- compensation, dental insurance, and international student issues, just to name a few. For the counter proposals that we've received so far BU is establishing a pattern of codifying the status quo rather than allowing for improvements in our working conditions.

Proposal Summaries:

We presented our Unit Boundaries/Recognition, Workload, and Discipline articles. We also presented a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) explaining Unit Boundaries/Recognition as a package deal, asserting that there should be no discrepancy of pay, benefits, professional development, etc. on the basis of service distinction. In line with previous bargaining sessions, The BU administration responded by saying that they will have lots of questions for us. Again, when these promised questions will be brought to the table remains unclear.

  1. Unit Boundaries/Recognition: This proposal defines the boundaries of our bargaining unit, which includes all graduate student employees enrolled in Boston University graduate programs who receive compensation in exchange for providing research, instructional, or teaching services. We also proposed a memorandum that there should be no discrepancy of pay, benefits, professional development, etc. on the basis of service distinction.
  2. Workload: This proposal includes workload limitations, ensuring that no graduate worker feels compelled or pressured to work more than 20 hours, and policies related to workload adjustments, workload stability, overbase pay. 
  3. Discipline: This proposal ensures that there is just cause for discipline, suspension, or discharge. We also propose proportional and progressive discipline, student/worker separation, and policies related to paid administrative leave, notice, and expedited timelines for international graduate workers.

BU's Counter Proposals

BU management presented four counterproposals: Assignments, Performance Evaluations, Professional Development, and Joint-Labor Management Committee. All four articles lacked specificity and substantive protections and/or benefits. It was made abundantly clear during this bargaining session that the management is insisting on codifying the status quo and refuses to move even an inch on many of these issues.

  1. Assignments: This is a counter to the union’s Appointment and Assignments article proposed in October. The management has rejected our request to receive job assignments at least 2 months before the start of any such assignments, and also requested a 3 year period to implement any standardized appointment system. Furthermore, the management refused a guarantee of reassignment for grad workers whose appointments are cancelled. 
  2. Performance Evaluations: This proposal is a counter to the union’s Performance Evaluations article. The management proposed that “performance evaluations of Graduate Workers are within the sole discretion and purview of the University’s Management Rights. The University will solely determine how it measures, evaluates, and determines the performance of all workers at the University, including Graduate Workers.
  3. Professional Development: This is a counter to the union’s Professional Development article. The management has categorically rejected BUGWU’s request for establishing a funding pool for professional development activities and materials not offered by the University.
  4. Joint-Labor Management Committee: This is a counter to the union’s JLMC proposal in October. As a fairly standard contract article, the management has not made much alteration to the union’s proposal except for explicitly stipulating that no participation on the grad workers’ side should be compensated and that each side (the management and the union) should only have 5 instead 6 members.

What is next in our fight for a fair contract?

  1. RSVP if you are attending our next bargaining session on February 14th from 12:30- 3:00 PM PM ET. (
  2. The Collective Action Team (CAT) has called for a hybrid General Membership Meeting on 2/15 from 5:30-7:30 PM ET, in GSU 228 and on Zoom. At this GMM, we will vote on the following: “I believe that negotiation thus far has failed to produce an acceptable tentative agreement, and we are sufficiently prepared as a union to call a strike authorization vote.”
  3. Attend our next Collective Action Team meeting. We’re meeting at a new time – Wednesdays at 4pm over Zoom.

Show Your Union Solidarity Across BU and the Greater Boston Area!

  1. The Boston University Graduate Workers Union (BUGWU) condemns Boston University for firing, evicting, and involuntarily relocating ResLife workers to high-cost housing. We echo ResLife workers’ demand for the reinstatement of all fired workers and the abolition of the 2.7 GPA requirement, and we affirm ResLife workers’ fight for increased pay and housing security. We encourage anyone able to host a displaced ResLife worker to complete our form.
  2. We remain in solidarity with the Newton Teachers Association (NTA) as they strike for the working and learning conditions Newton educators and students deserve. We encourage you to support the NTA strike effort if you can. You may have seen today's BU Today anti-union article on the Newton teachers strike. We are encouraged by the Newton parents and community members stating their support for their teachers in the comments section! We stand in solidarity - An injury to one is an injury to us all.

Thanks for reading!

= Updates

🎉 = Victory

Do you or someone you know have any interest in helping to create & edit this newsletter? Getting involved is easy, with no commitment level required. Everyone is welcome; we’re happy to have all the help we can get! Just search for the #communications-team channel in the BUGWU slack. (Not on the BUGWU slack? Reach out to any union rep to join!)