Campus, News

Office of Provost changes payroll policy amid BUGWU strike

See more Daily Free Press coverage of the BUGWU strike here.

Boston University’s Office of the Provost issued an updated payroll policy in response to the ongoing Boston University Graduate Workers Union strike.

“Our graduate student workers have the right to strike, but the University also has a legal right to withhold compensation from striking employees for the days they are on strike,” the Office of the Provost wrote on its website. 

Members of the Boston University Graduate Workers Union march from Marsh Plaza to the Center for Computing and Data Science on March 25. BU’s Office of the Provost updated its payroll policy to withhold compensation from striking employees. MOLLY POTTER/DFP PHOTOGRAPHER

The Office of the Provost wrote that graduate student workers who receive a weekly stipend will be surveyed to confirm if they worked, while students on non-service stipend will not. The Payroll Accounting Survey is another requirement students will have to complete and BU may seek reimbursement if any students are overpaid for work that was not completed while on strike.

Graduate workers were advised not to fill out the form without speaking to their union representatives, according to a post on BUGWU’s Instagram.  

“BU’s current implementation of their strike payroll policy is a desperate scare tactic after failing to mobilize faculty and undergrads to report striking grads, and it’s already backfiring on BU,” BUGWU wrote in the Instagram post.

BUGWU began striking on March 25, demanding “higher wages, better benefits, child care funding for working families, manageable workloads, and more.” BUGWU said they will continue to strike even if their pay is withheld.

“We are on strike because our current working and living conditions have made fighting back a necessity, and we are prepared to face down BU’s threats, even if that means enduring the loss of pay together until we win the contract we deserve,” BUGWU wrote in the post.

Hannah Grace Howard, a student pursuing a doctorate degree and a member of BUGWU’s bargaining team, said the university asked faculty to fill out the form first and then “changed their tune,” implementing a new payroll policy.

“It’s looking mostly confusing,” Howard said. “A lot of the messaging and the kind of guidance we’ve gotten around self reporting in those emails has been really inconsistent.” 

Howard added that BUGWU filed an unfair labor practice charge against the university.

“We’re just mostly focused on using this time to fight back against misinformation that we feel they’re putting out and what appears to us to be retaliation,” Howard said. 

BU faculty and staff wrote an open letter to the administration this week criticizing the university’s bargaining approach this week.

“We think this is not the best way to run bargaining at a non-profit educational institution whose mission is to produce the creative and critical thinkers, civic-minded citizens, and even the university leaders of tomorrow,” the letter wrote.

The letter, which will be presented to the Office of the Provost at the next bargaining session on April 11, suggested that the university should take part in “a collective exercise in building the BU of tomorrow, rather than as a zero sum struggle between ‘management’ and ‘workers.’” 

The Office of the Provost wrote that Labor Relations, the Office of the Provost, the Office of General Counsel and the College of Arts and Sciences have increased the number of bargaining sessions with BUGWU “in hopes of reaching a resolution and averting a strike,” according to the Office of the Provost’s website.

Howard said BUGWU would prefer a more reliable schedule for future bargaining sessions.

“Throughout the semester, the scheduling of bargaining sessions has been pretty ad hoc and at the leisure of the university,” Howard said. “In our last bargaining session that happened on Monday, we asked for a more stable and consistent schedule.” 

As the strike hits its two-week mark, BU students are noticing cancellations of discussion sections and office hours. 

Yashiv Singh, a junior in the College of Engineering, said it is challenging to get “one-on-one” help because his professor is teaching labs while the TA’s continue to strike.

“It is a bit tough because the professor also has his office hours at the same time,” Singh said. “We don’t get the one-on-one with the TA, so we have to wait a lot more for help.” 

BUGWU wrote they are refusing to back down in their efforts to fight for better working and living conditions.

“We did not choose to strike lightly,” BUGWU wrote in the Instagram post.

More Articles

Comments are closed.