Boston, MA—After a spirited meeting at the Brookline Holiday Inn,hundreds of custodians, mailroom operators, groundskeepers and skilled trades workers who maintain and repair nearly 300 buildings throughout the BU campus voted to authorize their union’s bargaining committee to call a strike if they don’t reach an agreement with Boston University by Friday. 32BJ SEIU and Boston University still remain far apart on any new agreement involving healthcare and wages.
“We don’t take the possibility of a strike lightly but the workers who make BU strong are ready to do what it takes to protect their families,” said Roxana Rivera, Director of 32BJ SEIU District 615.
Negotiations for a new, multi-year contract began last August between Boston University (BU) and 32BJ SEIU District 615, the largest property service union in the country. Major issues include fair wage increases to keep up with the rising cost of living and maintaining affordable family health care.
“The cost of living keeps getting higher. When you go to the supermarket, it’s not like it used to be. Everything is more expensive,” said Chanda Jones, a custodian and mother who hopes one day her daughter will attend BU. “This is not easy for us but we want to be able to support our families in the same way we support BU.”
Boston, according to the Brookings Institute, is now the 4th most unequal city in America and the 10th most expensive while Boston University’s financial outlook is strong. BU has $2 billion in capital assets and an additional $2 billion in reserves.
“The future of the middle class in our city depends on preserving good jobs,” said Councilor Tito Jackson.“The 700 BU workers deserve a fair contract, not rollbacks that risk throwing them into economic insecurity. I urge BU to negotiate in good faith towards a contract that preserves these vital quality jobs.
With more than 145,000 members in 11 states and Washington DC, including 18,000 members in the Boston Area, 32BJ is the largest property service workers union in the country.