American University reaches tentative agreement with union before classes begin

American University reached a tentative agreement with faculty union to put an end to a nearly three-month strike.

'Today’s developments will help us start the semester with focus on our scholarship, learning, and community,' AU President assured.

After nearly three months of negotiations and strikes, American University (AU) reached a tentative agreement with its staff union just in time for the first day of classes, AU President Sylvia Burwell announced on Friday.

I am pleased to announce that we have reached tentative agreements on contracts for both the adjunct faculty and the Provost and Enrollment division staff unit,” Burwell wrote. “The union has now called off its strike and the unit members will vote on ratification of the agreements in the coming days.”

Faculty members are represented by SEIU Local 500, an organization that works across DC and Maryland to organize and help employees negotiate wages.

Proposal details have not yet been made publicly available as union members are expected to cast their votes in the “coming days,” Burwell explained. Regardless, the union wasted little time in celebrating the victory.

After 468 days at the bargaining table, we’ve made history because WE HAVE A CONTRACT!,” the AU Staff Union announced on Twitter.

The group further bragged that it reportedly shut the campus down to reach the agreement:

[RELATED: Striking workers union, Columbia University reach tentative agreement on $140 million demand]

The strike’s end came on the heels of intense demonstrations that interrupted new student events last week—picketing conflicted with student move-in day and Welcome Week activities. 

As such, incoming students were recommended to avoid moving to Thursday as the picket line moved to occupy the quad outside Letts and Anderson Halls, which collectively host the largest first-year population.

Rather than be discouraged, new AU students were quick to link arms with the union by staging a walk-out during freshman orientation Friday morning. Students left the gymnasium in droves as Burwell took the podium to speak, a video taken by Abby Turner, Investigative Reporter for The Eagle, shows.

[RELATED: Union extends strike after policing demands aren’t UMich turns to court]

Deliberation between the faculty and the union began in May over working conditions and wages. While Burwell insists the university negotiated in “good faith,” the union rejected its original offer to increase salaries by 4% because it would not equate to a “living wage.”

Picketers were quick to accuse Burwell of underpaying faculty while pocketing more than $1 million per year, the Chronicle of Higher Education reported.

With AU scheduled to begin classes on Monday, Burwell concluded her statement with optimism for the fall semester.

“Today’s developments will help us start the semester with focus on our scholarship, learning, and community,” she assured.

Campus Reform contacted the union, Burwell, and AU for comment. This article will be updated accordingly.

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