The United Labor of Tufts Resident Assistants (ULTRA), represented by the Office and Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU) Local 153, are set to begin a strike on Tuesday, August 29, after months of negotiating with university officials who refuse to make any response to their demand for wages as compensation for their work.
Eighty-nine percent of ULTRA members voted on the afternoon of Wednesday, August 23 to authorize a strike if the university fails to meet the union’s demand for wage compensation in the form of a stipend. Up to this point, the only form of compensation RAs receive is on-campus housing during the academic year.
In last week’s bargaining session, the university made threats of a lockout, of replacing members of the unit, and of charging them for their rooms, thereby threatening the housing security of the student workers. Also during this session, the administration sent an email to the entire student body threatening retaliation against union members for engaging in their right to collective action. In response to this email, the union has filed an Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) charge with the NLRB. On Sunday evening, the members voted unanimously to authorize a ULP strike.
"I work overnight shifts at the hospital in addition to holding three other jobs on campus and being an RA,” says Aria Ma, an ULTRA member and a junior in the Tufts dual degree program. “I spread myself too thin and I am still barely getting by. It's disappointing to see that Tufts doesn't care enough about us to provide a living wage."