You are here: American University Provost Communications August 19, 2022

American University Office of the Provost

MemorandumAugust 19, 2022

AU Community
Peter Starr, Provost and Chief Academic Officer

Seth Grossman, Vice Provost, People and External Relations and Counselor for the President
Fanta Aw, Vice President for Undergraduate Enrollment, Campus LIfe, and Inclusive Excellence

Update on Union Negotiations

As the community comes together for move-in, orientation, and the start of classes, we want to update you about negotiations with the union representing staff in the Provost’s and Enrollment divisions. The union has announced a plan to strike during the week of August 22–26 despite significant progress in negotiations. While we are disappointed the union has chosen to strike, we are prepared to support our community and continue Welcome Week activities, WCL classes, and student services.

The university has negotiated in good faith since last May after staff members in the bargaining unit voted to organize a union. Through more than 30 bargaining sessions we resolved all the non-compensation issues the union raised and provided safeguards and guarantees they sought. These include agreements on a “just cause” standard for all disciplinary actions; a grievance process with appeals to outside arbitration; a joint labor-management committee for ongoing dialogue; a revised reporting system for health and safety concerns; a process to ensure newly hired employees do not receive a higher salary than current employees for the same work; and enhancements to the annual leave benefit, among other updates.

The university also provided a fair, equitable, and comprehensive compensation offer that addressed the substantive issues raised by the union, aligns with significant investment in the compensation framework in the most recent two-year budget, and advances our overall commitment to equity. The offer included a 4 percent salary increase (consisting of a 2.5 percent across-the-board increase for all unit members and a 1.5 percent performance pay pool this year). This is in line with the increases provided to AU staff and faculty this year. We advised the union’s negotiating committee that across-the-board increases are unprecedented in the university’s history. The university also offered to make the across-the-board increases retroactive to July 1. These proposed increases are consistent with the significant compensation framework investment in the most recent two-year budget, which is the largest increase in compensation in almost a decade.

The university also offered additional base salary increases between 1 and 3 percent to reduce salary compression for long-serving employees; elimination of the lowest two pay bands, which will result in additional base salary increases for staff currently below the minimum pay of their new band; and increased university contributions to health insurance costs for the lowest-paid employees. The wage increases alone average 4.6 percent in the first year, compared to the union’s demand for a 5 percent guaranteed wage increase. It is disappointing that the union still plans to strike given the closeness of these positions.

Despite this forward movement, the union rejected our best and final offer and intends to strike during this important week for our students and families. The union’s position is that a strike can only be avoided if the university fully meets the union’s guaranteed wage increase demands, which exceed what other members of our teams will receive. A principle for the university is to fairly address specific concerns of unit members and resolve issues in an equitable manner for staff both inside and outside the bargaining unit.

Although we are disappointed that the union is choosing this path rather than the cooperation that has characterized our relationship with other campus bargaining units for the past decade, we recognize and respect their right to engage in legally protected union activity. We also support our community members’ right to freedom of expression and dissent in accordance with university policy. However, picketing or any other strike activity cannot interfere with the normal flow of people or vehicular traffic into and from buildings or parking structures. This includes interfering with other employees reporting to work, visits by the public, students attending classes or moving into the residence halls, business operations, or deliveries. We will maintain all conduct expectations during strike activities.

While bargaining sessions continued as recently as yesterday, the university concurrently prepared to support our community in the event of a strike. We have implemented procedures to support our students as they return to campus, maintain our operations and activities, and address any potential impacts as this process moves forward. Importantly, we are ensuring that move-in proceeds without interruption, classes begin as scheduled, and student services are available. We identified points of contact in each service area to make sure urgent questions and issues can be addressed in a timely manner. AU Central’s one stop student resources are available at, by calling (202)885-8000, or by online chat during business hours at Student workers will have supervision and support if their direct manager is not working during the strike. There are additional resources and FAQs available on our website.

While it is unfortunate that the union still apparently intends to ask our employees to strike and has dismissed the sizable gains we have made together, we hope that it will reconsider and agree to the favorable terms for a first contract that we have offered. We value the work of the staff in the unit, which is reflected in the university’s good faith commitment to bargaining and comprehensive and generous proposals. As this process proceeds, we are excited about the upcoming semester and look forward to welcoming Eagles back to campus.