Boston, MA–On Thursday, November 10, Boston University’s over 700 custodians, carpenters, and other tradespeople represented by 32BJ SEIU voted overwhelmingly to ratify a 4-year agreement with raises of 14 percent over the life of the contract, plus a service recognition stipend of $1,000, which BU will pay all the workers in December.
These raises are the highest these workers have ever settled with BU, and are hard-won after months of difficult negotiations that culminated in the workers’ bargaining committee and BU management reaching a tentative agreement just before midnight on October 31, the date the previous contract was set to expire. In the midst of inflation and due to being essential workers during the COVID pandemic, these members and their families needed and deserved a more substantial raise than during previous bargaining cycles.
“The BU bargaining committee fought long and hard for the contract these frontline men and women need and deserve,” said Executive Vice President of 32BJ SEIU Roxana Rivera. “During the 2020 shutdown and beyond, these professionals were commuting daily to BU and BUMC, risking their lives and the health of their families to keep campus clean and functioning. Now, with the cost of living in all of metro Boston skyrocketing, strong contracts like the one we settled at BU are more important than ever to the financial health of our communities.”
“We all have our pandemic stories because we were all working and keeping campus running when so many at BU were staying safe at home,” said custodian and member of the BU bargaining committee Matt Banks. “As an overnight custodian, I work primarily in solitude, silence and isolation, removing trash, sweeping, mopping, and making BU sparkle and shine for the community every morning. I did this invisible work throughout the pandemic, and so did my co-workers. I’m proud that we stood strong and united to win the kind of contract we need during these difficult times.”
The contract runs from November 1, 2022 through November 1, 2025. Wage increases include an immediate 4 percent raise retroactive to November 1, 2022, and raises of 3.75 percent, 3.25 percent, and 3 percent in November 2023, 2024, and 2025, respectively. In addition to these raises and the one-time stipend for all, second and third shift differentials for custodians went up to 6 percent per hour. Union members were also able to maintain their healthcare and other benefits.
With more than 175,000 members in 12 states, including 19,000 in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire, 32BJ SEIU is the largest property service workers’ union in the country.