American University Students Support Striking Faculty Ahead of Fall Semester

Students at American University (AU) in Washington held a walkout on Friday, August 26, in support of striking faculty seeking better pay and healthcare benefits.

Union members penned an open letter to the university’s provost, Peter Starr, saying the decision to strike was a “direct response” to “unilateral changes” to their working conditions after Starr withheld annual merit increases.

The union’s demands included a guaranteed annual salary increases of at least 4 percent, investment in staff retention, and a restructuring of healthcare costs to make them more affordable to employees on lower salaries, according to the letter.

According to The Eagle Online, AU’s student newspaper, students walked out of convocation when Provost Starr invited President Sylvia Burwell to address the audience.

AU faculty and staff voted to unionize in 2020, according to a post on the Service Employees International Union’s (SEIU) website authored by AU faculty member Roshan Abraham. However, Abraham says there is still no union contract due to “union-busting tactics” from the university.

“The problem is that we are poorly paid and overworked, and our offices are frequently understaffed,” Abraham wrote.

Videos filmed by @ColinWechsler show students and faculty rallying outside AU’s Butler Pavilion on Friday, days before the official start of the fall term on August 30. Credit: @ColinWechsler via Storyful

Video Transcript

[CHEERING]

- The people here have unity.

- [INAUDIBLE] will not divide.

- [INAUDIBLE] will not divide.

- [INAUDIBLE] students, side-by-side.

[CROWD CHANTING]

[DRUMMING]

- The people here have unity.

- [INAUDIBLE] will not divide.

- [INAUDIBLE] will not divide.

- [INAUDIBLE] students, side-by-side.

[CROWD CHANTING]

[DRUMMING]

- The people here have unity.

- [INAUDIBLE] will not divide.

- [INAUDIBLE] will not divide.

- [INAUDIBLE] students, side-by-side.

[CROWD CHANTING]