Boston education workers roll the union on!

Boston University resident life workers rally at George Sherman Union for union recognition, Feb. 8, 2023.


In metropolitan Boston, where 44 institutions of higher education employ over 42,600 workers, unorganized workers have announced new union campaigns nearly every week since the new year.

Over 500 Boston University (BU) resident advisers, graduate resident advisers and graduate housing assistants rallied Feb. 8 to demand immediate recognition of their new union, the BU Resident Life Union of Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 509.

Accompanied by a tuba, a trombone and a tap-dancing duo of resident-adviser organizers, student workers took the microphone, provided by the Boston School Bus Drivers Union, Steelworkers Local 8751. They told their stories of poverty-level compensation; food insecurity; lack of medical, dental and mental health care; and unaffordable housing at BU, one of Boston’s largest landlords. The workers demanded immediate union recognition, reporting overwhelming support from the campus community.

The BU Resident Life Union joins 3,500 members of BU Graduate Workers United, who electrified the city Dec.7, 2022, with a historic 98.1% vote to unionize with SEIU Local 509 in a National Labor Relations Board-supervised election. (

Over 6,000 postdoctoral, research, adjunct and nontenured faculty at Harvard University rallied Feb. 14 in Harvard Yard on the Cambridge campus and at the Harvard Medical School campus in Boston to announce their campaign to form Harvard Academic Workers, part of the United Auto Workers.

 With rousing professions of enduring Valentine’s Day love for their co-workers — most of whom are treated by Harvard bosses as temporary, disposable contractors, with a maximum of eight yearly contract renewals — lecturers, laboratory workers and lifesaving public-health researchers denounced the precarity of their jobs at the most prestigious and wealthy university in the country. Solidarity from USW Local 8751, Alphabet (Google) workers and local politicians highlighted the rally.

The BU Resident Life Union and Harvard Academic Workers join thousands of other newly organizing workers at Northeastern, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Tufts universities. In recent months they have taken on these giants of Boston’s “nonprofit” educational-military-real estate-industrial complex. 

Mostly young Generation Z workers are teaching these global corporations — which pay no taxes for local social services but charge students upwards of $60,000 per year tuition, leading to their lifelong debt — the class lesson. 

Loudly bouncing off their centuries-old, hallowed halls at every rally is the slogan, “When We Fight, We Win!”

Harvard Academic Workers rally at T.H. Chan School of Public Health to announce their union card-signing campaign, Feb. 14, 2023.

Steve Gillis

Published by
Steve Gillis

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