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Boston University graduate student workers began striking Monday, calling for better pay, improved health care coverage and guaranteed childcare subsidies, among other demands.

The Boston University Graduate Workers Union (BUGWU), part of Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 509, has been negotiating with the university for eight months. Two weeks ago, grad workers voted to authorize their bargaining team to call a strike; the university and union failed to reach an agreement to avert the start of the walkout.

BUGWU represents around 3,000 grad workers. The strike kicked off with a noon rally. A university spokesperson said it was too early Monday afternoon to assess how many workers are withholding their labor.

David Foley, president of SEIU Local 509, said in a Monday news release that “BU’s conduct continues to signal that they do not value the contributions of the workers that keep this university running.” The release said the workers are paid annual stipends ranging from $27,000 to about $40,000.

In an emailed statement, the university said “we value our graduate students and their many contributions to teaching and research and will continue to address their needs through the collective bargaining process. At the same time, we are concerned about the strike’s impact on teaching, research and the lives of thousands of other students, and we are working to minimize that disruption.”

A fall report noted a surge in higher education worker strikes, with 20 from January 2022 through the first half of 2023. That period alone represented almost one-third of all strikes in the past decade.