UPDATE: Striking staff reportedly block students from their dorms
Faculty reportedly shut down student move-in to protest working conditions and wages.
Students were advised to change their move-in to the following day to avoid the strike.
New American University students and their families were met with a blockade of protesters Tuesday afternoon as they attempted to move into their dorms to kickstart the fall semester.
The strike, led by the AU chapter of SEIU Local 500, began on Monday but intensified on Tuesday as strikers prevented students from entering their dorms, according to Sarah Mattalain, managing editor of the campus newspaper The Eagle.
— Sarah Mattalian (@sarahmattalian) August 24, 2022
The picket line blocked entrances to dormitories, according to coverage on Twitter. Strikers allegedly carried a large banner reading “SEIU Local 500 on strike,” as well as raised hand-made signs with the slogans “Change Can’t Wait,” “Settle a fair contract NOW!!!,” and “We CAN’T Eat on AU wages.”
It’s freshmen move-in day on AU’s campus and @austaffunion has successfully blocked entrances to dorms. Administrators, who walked away from negotiations, can be seen awkwardly explaining the situation to new students and parents. The staff union is demanding better pay. pic.twitter.com/YN4UacKAZH
— John Paul Mejia (@johnpaul_mejia) August 24, 2022
In response to the strike, an alleged email from Housing and Residence Life advised students to delay their move-in to the following day, Aug. 25. The union tweeted a photo of the email, bragging that it successfully “shut. [campus.] down.”
Our amazing student supporters sent us this email. Students who aren't on campus yet have been advised to move-in tomorrow because we SHUT. IT. DOWN.@SylviaBurwell have fun taking calls from angry parents/guardians (202)885-2121#UnionStrong #AStrikeReadyU #AUWelcome #AU2026 pic.twitter.com/FjJYLcN80O
— AU Staff Union #AStrikeReadyU (@austaffunion) August 24, 2022
As Campus Reform reported on Tuesday, hundreds of strikers and community members staked out the picket line on Monday after four months of negotiations with the university resulted in the union rejecting a 4% salary raise.
AU is scheduled to begin classes on Aug. 29. The strike, which is scheduled to occur through Aug. 26, coincides with the campus’ Welcome Week, which includes numerous first-year student activities including move-in, a resource fair, and orientation.
In total, the union and administration have undergone 30 bargaining sessions since May. The groups settled on non-compensation agreements that included a “just cause” disciplinary standard and a reporting system for “health and safety concerns.”
However, the union pegged the administration’s offer of a 4% salary raise as unfair, citing the pay gap between President Sylvia Burwell’s over $1 million salary and paid educators which range between $76-$172 thousand.
We're back at @AmericanU for #StrikeTwosday. Will we catch a glimpse of the impossible to reach @SylviaBurwell today? #WhereIsSylvia #AUChangeCantWait #AStrikeReadyU https://t.co/UbJHC522wI pic.twitter.com/rvCDMzXVe5
— AU Staff Union #AStrikeReadyU (@austaffunion) August 23, 2022
Campus Reform contacted the union, Housing and Residence Life, and AU for comment. This article will be updated accordingly.
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