Teachers at Boston University Children’s Center voted unanimously to unionize with Service Employees International Union Local 888 on Aug. 8 to address understaffing and low wages.
According to the BUCC website, the center is a nonprofit, university owned and operated child care center in Brookline for BU families for children ages eight weeks to five years old.
Kendra Bucklin, a lead preschool teacher and union member, said the educators are looking for a variety of improvements regarding time to prepare curriculum, write assessments and other required preparation.
Hersch Rothmel, the director of external organizing for the SEIU, said by unionizing, the educators are stronger together.
“Now the university as their employer is obligated to negotiate over wages, benefits and working conditions that affect their lives,” Rothmel said.
Throughout the process, the SEIU provides resources and expertise to support educators. Rothmel said he works as an organizer, and the group works with a negotiator, but the workers are “in the driver’s seat.”
Bucklin said the process of unionizing has truly united the teachers and made them more of a team.
“It’s really united the staff to come together in order to form the union which really helps me get to know my coworkers better,” Bucklin said.
Following a collective letter, Bucklin said the university responded in a much bigger way than they have before, by giving them a major pay raise and “proves that collective bargaining works and it’s something that we want to continue doing.”
Despite BUCC conditions being better than other early childhood centers she has worked at, Bucklin said working conditions are still a major concern.
“Having worked in early childhood for decades now, I’ve cared for other people’s children and loved them as my own,” Bucklin wrote. “But I haven’t been able to afford to have my own children due to the low wages in the industry.”
Now that they have unionized, they have submitted a request for bargaining, and the timeline is decided by the employer, but they hope to come to an agreement as quickly as possible.
“It’s contingent on the employer’s willingness to agree to those demands,” Rothmel said. “We will work tirelessly in order to achieve what the educators have achieved, working together with them in negotiations.”
Campus News Editor Sangmin Song contributed to the reporting of this article.