American University (AU) faculty and staff assembled on the campus quad Tuesday to protest low wages and unsafe working conditions.
The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 500, a labor union representing the school’s adjunct faculty, graduate students, and staff, organized the protest against unfair wages and poor leadership because of allegedly lax COVID-19 safety protocols.
The Eagle reported that protesters chanted “change can’t wait” outside President Sylvia Burwell’s office and demanded the administration address inequities in on-campus presence requirements. Protestors are also asking AU to provide protective equipment to the entire campus upon request.
Flyers were passed around at the protest explaining the conditions AU employees face, claiming that 20 percent of full-time workers cannot sustain themselves with the salaries they earn, while 70 percent of part-time workers earn less than minimum wage.
SIEU Local 500 noted that adjunct professors do not earn enough even if they take on a full-course load of 24 credits. AU faculty and staff decided to unionize last fall and have since begun negotiating a new employment agreement.
In an email to The Eagle, assistant vice president for community and internal communication, Elizabeth Deal stated the institution’s position: “American University continues to negotiate in good faith with the SEIU under the procedures set by the National Labor Relations Board.”