78°
UMass Boston's independent, student-run newspaper

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Unions fighting for better working contract conditions

In the past few weeks, unions have been drawing a lot of attention to the University of Massachusetts Boston’s proposal to cut benefits for their employees. The unions and management have been over the conditions of the new contract in force as of spring 2014 but no solution has yet been reached. 
Accordingly, the university is planning on reducing sick and vacation benefits for new hires, weakening overtime provisions for the lowest paid staff, eliminating compensation time for professional staff (including those who are required to be on-call), limiting access to family medical leaves and Sick Leave Banks, eliminating the Salary Administration Program (which pays for equity), and eliminating contract language.
At the last Undergraduate Students Government (USG) senate meeting, Anneta Argyres of the Professional Staff Union explained how these planned cuts will have a negative affect on the quality of life of the staff and faculty members, and on their work.
Members of the different unions criticized the increase of salary at the higher management level of UMass Boston, including President Caret and Chancellor Motley. They also showed their disapproval of these changes by holding a rally at the Boston Common at the 50th anniversary celebration on Oct. 7. 
Another concern that the Graduate Employee Organization (GEO) Organizing Committee expressed was that, with all those cuts made, the university will not be able to compensate the faculty and will therefore resort to cheap labor, i.e. graduate students. It was also pointed out that, on the contrary, UMass Amherst, which is part of the same university system, provides their employees with better health benefits that require the faculty to take on far less financial responsibility.
Some weeks ago, UMass Boston made an offer to the unions at the bargaining table: they can choose to either accept a 3% increase in salary to adjust to growing living expenses, or to have the $1,700 cap from their health insurance removed. However, because the union representatives have been refusing either so far, negotiations are at a holding point right now.
Argyres urges UMass Boston community to petition against the university’s proposal to cut benefits for workers. She explained that when employees are affected, the education and the quality of services offered on campus will eventually suffer too. As she puts it, “our working conditions are your studying conditions.” The petition can be signed via this link: www.tinyurl.com/q27qqns.