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.
Eve Weinbaum, President of the Massachusetts Society of Professors at UMass Amherst, highlighted the overall lack of equity, fairness, and basic respect the Board have shown to faculty and staff and asked why our proposed pay increases – 1% this year, and 2% for the two following years – are lower than the cost of living (they are also lower than the salary increases for staff in the UMass President’s Office).
Another concern was the amount of privatization being pushed on campuses. UMass Dartmouth Faculty Federation President and Chair of Department of Management and Marketing, Catherine Curran, argued that privatizing services doesn’t make sense on her campus given the area is small—lower pay means lower economic development. She also requested that the Board review the impact of privatization on campus and see whether the presumed savings are worth the consequences.
After the meeting, the unions met for the rest of the afternoon to strategize how to address concerns about specific campuses as well as the UMass system as a whole.
These discussions are ongoing, but we will alert members on how you can help our sister unions in the struggle to improve working conditions throughout the entire UMass system.
FSU President Marlene Kim was slated to speak at this meeting, but gave her time to CSU President Janelle Quareles so she could discuss the devastating impact of layoffs on CSU members. Her comments can be found here.
You can also find more information about this crisis in the following Boston Globe articles:
- “Why does no one care about UMass Boston?” – Joan Vennochi, 12/6/17
- “After 30 years, a beloved UMass Boston janitor losing his job” – Laura Krantz, 12/3/17
- “Caught in a financial crisis, UMass Boston begins to cut jobs” – Laura Krantz, 11/15/17