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There are 15 comments on BU, Lecturers Agree on First-Ever Contract

  1. Please keep in mind that SEIU (an AFL/CIO union) is first a political organization. They spend the majority of the dues that members pay not on negotiating working conditions but on political candidates and lobbying. You can follow some of the money on OpenSecrets (

    I am opposed to unionization of educators,the and I am opposed to a significant number of politicians that SEIU hands money to. I am 100% opposed to money changing hands when lobbying our elected officials. In short, I oppose the SEIU.

    However, as a salaried lecturer I have no choice about whether I am a member or not. I voted against unionization, and yet every month SEIU will take a percentage of my paycheck and use it for endeavors that I am fundamentally against. In many contexts this would be labeled extortion.

    Please keep this in mind when you read news about the SEIU at BU. Not all of us are at all happy with this arrangement. Unfortunately we are currently in the minority.

      1. Most of my conversations were prior to the unionization vote several months ago. The union’s messaging was nearly entirely around salary and, to a lesser extent, contract duration. There was zero information being offered about the political activities of the union. My advice to colleagues to research the SEIU was met for the most part with a bit of apathy; maybe that was dissonance caused by the opposing messages. I think there was a fair amount of confusion about the process, at least among those I spoke with.

        Union members can notify both SEIU and BU HR in writing that they object to the use of dues for political purposes. The membership fee is reduced to cover only representational activities. I believe the deadline is the first week of November for such letters. The data that I have available ( indicates that SEIU spends roughly half of their revenue on lobbying and donations, but SEIU claims it it is a much smaller number, so don’t expect your dues to be cut in half.

    1. I agree with Perry above. As a summer-term adjunct, I was not even afforded the opportunity to vote for or against unionization of part-time adjuncts a couple of years ago. Yet, I was forced into the union and told that I must either contribute dues to the SEIU or alternatively make a mandatory contribution to one of four Boston charities. I was told that I could not negotiate salary levels with BU because even if I opt-out of the union, the salary is set by the union contract.

    2. SEIU does support progressive candidates, but not with dues. Dues go toward bargaining, organizing, and enforcing contracts. However, members can authorize to voluntarily give additional money to the union in order to support political action. I think this is an important distinction.

      Also, it is worth noting that of those who voted for the contract – 100% voted in favor.

      1. Either you have been misled, or are deliberately making a false statement regarding the use of dues by the SEIU. If what you state is true, why did the union distribute a four-page letter explaining the process to opt out of paying for non-bargaining activities? are you claiming that SEIU is not a political entity?

        Regarding your second statement, you left out the fact that only those who chose to “join” the union by signing a union card were allowed to vote on the contract. I refused to sign and so was barred from voting on a contract that I am involuntarily bound to.

  2. Then, I would like to ask, what sort of alternatives were available in order to negotiate with the BU Administration in order to receive a fair compensation for our work? My monthly take-home salary was barely $3,000 and the rent of my apartment is $2,200. There are colleagues who are forced to have second jobs.

    1. I acknowledge that many lecturers make less than what they would like to. However, that is not uniformly true across the university. My compensation is no longer tied to my value to my college and to my own negotiations; instead I am stuck with a least-common-demoninator solution that limits my career growth. I’m happy that you probably are going to bring home more in your paycheck, but it’s at the cost of me probably bringing home less in the future.

      How is that fair?

      1. If you are unwilling to make sacrifices in order to ensure a more equitable working environment for your colleagues, what incentive do they have to acknowledge your concerns about fairness?

        Boston University is also a political organization, as are most corporations. Employees seldom have any say in the political activities of the corporations that employ them. They have the option to work for a different corporate entity, but if all the corporations in a region engage in similar political activities their predicament is no different from yours.

        1. Sorry, Anonymous, but BU is not taking money out of my pocket to promote their own political agenda as is the SEIU. And, by your argument, if an employee here is unhappy with the wage they earn, they have the option to work for a different corporate entity.

          I might in fact be willing to make sacrifices for my colleagues, given a choice. I had zero choice in this matter.

          1. If BU reduces your compensation in order to fund its political activities, it very much is taking money out of your pocket. Your objection seems to be about the stage at which this occurs, but the end result is the same.

            What choices had you made to promote equity for your colleagues in the past? How many years of opportunities did you (or others across the university) have you had? If this was an issue that has been neglected over time, then the consequences of that neglect affect everyone (including, as you point out, yourself) in a potentially unfair way.

      2. It sounds like you are making a lot more than we make, but that is not generally true across the university. Even though YOUR compensation is tied to YOUR own negotiations, we do not have that sort of luxury. Why WE have to suffer in order to make it possible for you to have a fancy life?

        How is that fair?

      3. IIRC, as with other union contracts I’ve voted on, the pay scale is a minimum, not a maximum. All of us can negotiate a higher salary, we just can’t negotiate below the minimum.

  3. As far as I can tell, there is a 2.5% raise. Dues are 1.5%. So the union gets more from this deal than the lecturer. And if a lecturer is not making a living wage, making $60-80 more a month (1% of a 60-80k salary) *before* taxes is certainly not going to suddenly make that lecturer’s wage a “living wage.” I’d be happy to be corrected on my math–my questions to a union rep about this were met with silence.

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