This Day in History

April 5, 1979: Boston University Strike

Time Periods: Post-Civil Rights Era: 1975 - 2000
Themes: Labor
BU on strike.

Boston University staff/faculty strike, 1979. Howard Zinn is standing near the front. Included in the photo are students Kateri Gasper, Lee Brotherton, Daniel Kimmel, Jim Melville, and Mark Gursky, Source: Boston Public Library. Photographer: Spencer Grant.

On April 5, 1979, the Boston University faculty union called a strike. Howard Zinn wrote in You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train:

[Boston University President John Silber’s] employees had difficulty getting raises in their wages or their benefits. In self-defense, they organized into unions: the faculty, the secretaries and staff, the librarians. And in 1979, with various grievances not met, all these groups, at different times, went out on strike. For the faculty, the provocation was the university reneging on a contract at first agreed to by its negotiating committee.

I was one of the co-chairs of the strike committee of the faculty union (officially called, in the cautious language of college professors, the Postponement Committee). My job was to organize the picket lines at the entrance to every university building, to establish a rotation system among the hundreds of picketers. The faculty was admirable in its tenacity, showing up day after day, from early morning to evening, to walk the picket lines. Continue reading at HowardZinn.org.