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    Lecturers reach contract agreement with BU

    Over the BU move-in weekend in September, lecturers, including Jessica Kent, held banners and distributed fliers outside dormitories.
    Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff
    Over the BU move-in weekend in September, lecturers, including Jessica Kent, held banners and distributed fliers outside dormitories.

    Lecturers at Boston University struck an agreement Friday afternoon with the school administration for a first-ever contract that grants them higher wages and better job security, according to the lecturers’ union.

    The contract comes after a year of tense negotiations and averts a strike the lecturers had planned for mid-October.

    Lecturers are full-time faculty members who are not tenured or on the track toward tenure. Unlike adjuncts, who are part-time workers, lecturers are eligible for health insurance through the university and have some benefits, such as parental leave, but are paid less than their tenure-track colleagues.


    According to the union, the new contract grants lecturers pay increases each year of the three-year contract, including about 15 percent the first year.

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    BU will also create a fund to pay for professional development opportunities for lecturers. Until now, many have had to fund research and conference travel themselves, several lecturers said.

    “This contract is a clear way to make sure all of us are compensated and treated fairly,” said Seaghan McKay, a lecturer in BU’s College of Fine Arts, in a press release sent by the union.

    The agreement is not final until the entire union votes to approve it, the union said. That is expected to happen in the next two weeks.

    In a statement Friday, a BU spokesman called the agreement “one that keeps BU students first by promoting excellence in teaching, meritorious performance, and robust management rights for the university.”


    Negotiations began after about 250 lecturers unionized with the Service Employees International Union Local 509.

    In February, the union filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board that alleged the school was not being transparent in negotiations with lecturers by withholding data about professors’ salaries and workloads.

    That board in August issued a notice that BU must respond to the union’s complaint about not providing the information. It also scheduled a hearing for January 2018 in the event BU did not respond.

    Over the BU move-in weekend in September, lecturers held banners and distributed fliers outside dormitories in an attempt to tell parents and students that the price those families pay — $67,000 per year for tuition plus room and board — is more than many lecturers’ annual salaries.

    Lecturers teach courses, publish papers, serve on committees, and mentor students, but they are paid less than half the salary of full professors, wages that hardly cover the cost of living in a city like Boston. Lecturers have individual contracts, but the union found that the contracts and requirements for promotions and raises varied widely between departments and colleges within BU.


    The average salary of a BU lecturer was $66,000 in 2015, according to the latest data available from the Chronicle of Higher Education, which tracks such rates at many colleges. That rate rose from $50,000 in 2005. The average salary of a professor grew at a faster rate, data show, from $117,000 to $169,000 over the same time period.

    Laura Krantz can be reached at