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2018/2019 FSU Executive Committee Elections – Candidate Profiles

The FSU Elections are taking place from March 2nd through March 9th. You will receive your ballot through your umb.edu email.

In addition to candidate statements, we have invited candidates to participate in the online forum.  Continue reading

A Victory for Public Employees – MTA Gets GIC to Reinstate Health Care Plans

Almost one month ago, the Group Insurance Commission (GIC) voted to drastically limit the health care plan options to both current and retired public employees.

The Massachusetts Teachers Association (MTA) immediately announced it would hold an emergency meeting, and urged members to speak at GIC public hearings in Boston, Lowell, Cape Cod, and other locations, send comments to the GIC online, and to attend a Senate Committee on Ways & Means hearing regarding this issue.

Now, thanks to the organization and rapid response of the MTA and others who helped in this fight, including members of the public, state representatives, and more, the GIC has voted to undo their disastrous decision.

This is a great victory not just for the public employees who don’t have to worry about losing their health care plans, but for anyone who cares about such major decisions being open to public debate. That, after all, was what shocked so many, the secrecy surrounding the initial vote.

Thankfully, the GIC seems to have gotten the message. As Melvin Kleckner noted, “I don’t think it takes a political expert to conclude our process was flawed.”

But whether or not the GIC decides to use a “flawed process” (i.e., deliberately try to prevent the public from having time to voice their concerns) in the future, the MTA has proved that they, along with other unions and everyone  who cares about people having access to health care, will always be ready to defend our state’s public employees.

GIC Restricting Our Healthcare Options: What You Need to Know and What You Can Do

On January 18, 2018, the Group Insurance Commission (GIC) voted to drastically restrict health care plan options to both current and retired public employees. The only remaining options for current employees are UniCare, Neighborhood Health Plan, and Health New England, while the options for retirees are even more limited – UniCare or Tufts Health Plan.

This news came as a shock to everyone, thanks to a complete lack of transparency. The GIC didn’t give any advance warning that this vote was even taking place. In fact, the Commissioners themselves did not even receive the proposed changes until the night before the vote.

In a Letter to the GIC sent to the GIC Chair, Ms. Valerie Sullivan, State Representative Robert M. Koczera expressed, “concern over the process the [GIC] employed,” and argued that these proceedings, “should [have] been conducted in the open with an opportunity for public input and with full transparency.” Noting that this decision affects nearly half of all MA public employees, Koczera continues by agreeing with MA Attorney General Maura Healey that the $20 million in savings is, “insufficient to justify the widespread disruption that  will be caused,” and concluded by urging the GIC to reconsider its decision.

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UMass United at Board of Trustees Meeting in Lowell

The four UMass campuses united at the December 4, 2017 Board of Trustees’ meeting in Lowell.

Tom Goodkind, President of the Professional Staff Union, and Janelle Quareles, President of the Classified Staff Union, excoriated the Board for absolving themselves of all responsibility for approving UMB’s construction plans that have slid UMB into debt and prompted budget cuts that risk destroying UMass’s “diversity flagship campus”.  They also emphasized how the Trustee’s actions have led to dedicated UMB employees losing their jobs. What’s particularly galling is that many of these former employees are near retirement-age and unlikely to obtain other jobs in the future.

The Lowell adjunct faculty has suffered as well from low pay and a lack of healthcare benefits. In fact, UMass Lowell is notably the only campus in the UMass system that does not provide adjuncts health care benefits. Communication Director of the UMass Lowell Union of Adjunct Faculty (part of the United Auto Workers Local 1596) Teresa George pilloried the Board for their treatment of these adjuncts, which has resulted in faculty members dying from preventable causes. Forty adjuncts attended the meeting in solidarity, holdings signs demanding “Adjunct Justice” during her talk.

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Upcoming Actions – 12/7/17 State House, 12/8/17 UMass Lowell Inn and Conference Center

On Thursday, December 7th at 11:30 am, UMass Boston campus community members will have an opportunity to give testimony at the State House about why some of the debt should be shifted to the state as well as the impact of the recent cuts.

Contact Anneta Argyres at anneta.argyres@gmail.com for more information.

On Friday, December 8th at 9 am, FSU will work with PSU and CSU to keep pressure on the Board of Trustees during their next meeting at the UMass Lowell Inn and Conference Center at 50 Warren St., Lowell, MA in the Main Ballroom, 1st Floor.

Join your colleagues to demand that the Trustees back our proposal that the state pay for the utility corridor, the substructure, and the new buildings at UMB.

 

Fixing the Faulty Foundations of UMass Boston’s Budget Cuts

In part one of this series on UMass Boston’s budget crisis, we reviewed the causes of this deficit. Now, we’ll look at the various ways the FSU has been fighting these cuts by working with our sister unions, the Classified and Professional Staff Unions (CSU and PSU) and our state affiliate, Massachusetts Teachers Association, and offering alternative solutions that wouldn’t hurt the students, faculty, and staff.

In April 2017, over 200 protestors came together outside the Board of Trustees meeting at UMB to protest the cuts. FSU President Marlene Kim spoke to the Trustees, telling them how the cuts were harming students and faculty, and that CAPS courses were being cancelled that summer which many students needed to graduate. UMass system President Marty Meehan told the Trustees that they had no intention of cutting these courses, since they were profitable. But they were wrong: CAPS courses had been cut, without their knowledge. The courses were reinstated that afternoon.

The FSU wrote a petition to protest these cuts, the lack of faculty input, and the lack of transparency in the budget cutting process. This petition garnered over 500 signatures and was presented to the Trustees at this April meeting and to Interim Chancellor Barry Mills. We also put out a call to faculty to report to us any problems in their departments  that resulted from these cuts. The FSU reported these problems to the administration so they could be resolved…but they were not, and the administration continues to insist there have been no problems affecting students or faculty whatsoever.

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The FSU Stands with the PSU and CSU on 11/29/17

The FSU is concerned about the cuts to the staff and stands in support of our UMass Boston coworkers who have been hit with layoffs. Let’s show our solidarity and be there to back the PSU and CSU at the Board of Trustees’ Administration and Finance Committee meeting on November 29 at 8:15 at One Beacon Street. If you can come, please RSVP to this site:  http://tinyurl.com/NovSolidarity

Below is content from a PSU email with information on the recent layoffs and upcoming action:

Last week our campus administration delivered a body blow to our UMB community, laying off numerous dedicated employees—both union and non-union—who have many, many years of service.

Here are a few facts about both the classified and professional unit layoffs:

  •        The average years of service of classified staff slated for layoff is 15.5;
  •        The most senior person on the CSU layoff list has 37.5 years of service;
  •        Employees on PSU’s layoff list have over 24, 26, 32, 34, and 35 years of service;
  •        61% of PSU members being laid off have 15+ years seniority, while only 31% of PSU’s bargaining unit has that much seniority;
  •        84.6% of PSU members being laid off are women, while women make up 62.8% of the PSU bargaining unit.

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Upcoming Action – 11/29/17 Protest to Protect Our Campus from Cuts We Can’t Afford

The Classified and Professional Staff Unions will be protesting these cuts at the Board of Trustees’ Administration and Finance meeting (1 Beacon Street from 8:15 to 9:45 a.m.) on Wednesday, November 29.

We hope you’ll be able to join to show your support.

 

Understanding the Faulty Foundations of UMass Boston’s Budget Cuts

The administration has cut faculty, staff, and classes. The FSU is concerned that these cuts threaten the educational mission of our university and has been working on campus to mitigate this outcome.  This two-part blog will examine the cause of the deficit, what the union has been doing about these cuts, and how you can help.

Barry Mills, in a recent November 9 email to the UMass campus community, stated that the deficit was caused in part by the cost of substructure-related construction projects.  Why?  Because back in the 1970s, when McKee/Berger/Mansueto (MBM) was contracted to build the substructure upon which the UMass campus rests, rather than creating a solid foundation, MBM was so negligent and irresponsible that an engineering report in the mid-90s determined the substructure below all UMass campus buildings were in “imminent danger of collapse.”

Temporary fixes like repairing expansion joints, propping up wooden supports, filling potholes – none of these changed the fact that the substructure was a danger to the entire campus. Fire trucks can’t even drive onto the campus plaza due to the risk of falling through. The danger was deemed so great that the substructure — which used to serve as our campus parking facility — was shut down in 2006. Also, because the substructure houses campus utilities like electricity, air conditioning, water, and heat, the utilities must be moved, adding even more to the overall cost of repairs – costs which the UMB campus is being forced to pay.

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Welcome to the UMass Boston Faculty Staff Union Blog

Welcome to the new FSU Blog! We have launched this blog as a more flexible alternative to our newsletter. Instead of waiting for a newsletter in your campus mailbox twice a year, you can now visit our blog to find up-to-date posts several times a month. We believe that this is a more effective way to inform and build active membership.

You can look forward to reading posts about the budget crisis, contract issues, FSU initiatives, member activism, the workings of the grievance process, union struggles and victories beyond our campus, analysis of news coverage, profiles of members, Q&A with union leaders, and much more.

This blog is managed by the FSU Communications Committee. The Communications Committee encourages member involvement. Please email us at fsunionblog@gmail.com if you would like to get involved with the blog, have an idea for a post, or want to submit a guest post.

 

In solidarity,

Members of the FSU Communication Committee: Tina Mullins (chair), Sofya Aptekar, Linda Liu, Marlene Kim

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