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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

2-26-24 PDF
February 26, 2024
An inside look at Bobby B. Beacon’s insides. Illustrated by Bianca Oppedisano/ Mass Media Staff.
Bobby's Inside Story
February 26, 2024

No End in Sight

The UMass Board of Trustees convened a meeting September 26, 2008 to discuss on-going contract negotiations for University of Massachusetts Boston faculty, administrators, and service workers after their umbrella union’s contract expired in June 2007.

Shauna Manning, the President of the Classified Staff Union that represents a majority of those employed at UMB, was one of the representatives to speak before the Trustees. Manning echoed economic concerns voiced by unionists.

“Employees have told me, ashamed and in tears, that they have had to take personal days prior to payday because they could not afford to pay for gas and parking to get to work,” she said. “A new mailroom employee pays 4.5% of his salary to park here while he works.”

The Faculty Staff Union represents tenure track and non-tenure track professors at UMass Boston. The Vice President for the FSU, Larry Kaye, who was not at the meeting, later said there exists a gap between traditional contract increases and this year’s de-facto lack thereof.

“Faculty don’t have levels or steps […..] faculty receive a flat increase each year, [which is] determined in contract.”

In the last two weeks, the Office of Employee Relations, or OER-under the Human Resources Division of the Massachusetts state government-has proposed a 0.5% increase from 2% to the ‘seniority’ component of the FSU contract.

The OER made the offer on the terms that any contract would not take effect until January of 2009-seven months after the previous contract expired. Both Kaye and the FSU Vice President, Catherine Lynde-who was also not in attendance at the meeting-said the offer was unsatisfactory.

Lynde said she asked for a “full offer” from the administration, saying that ‘piecemeal discussion’ of possible contract components is not viewed as progress by the union, instead asking for the administration to place “a full offer” on the table.

Kaye and Lynde also said that the upcoming Question 1 referendum-which aims to repeal the Massachusetts state income tax-could have a detrimental impact on the negotiations process.

Both officials emphasized that a ‘Yes’ voting result on the question would cause dire changes to public spending. Providing figures calculated by the Massachusetts Teachers Association, Lynde and Kaye estimated that the future yearly cost to attend UMass Boston would increase by $4,272 if the Question were passed.

The FSU compared their experiences under the Romney Administration to the current Patrick Administration. Although contract discussions were marked by lack of respect from the Romney administration, acknowledgement was given in contract wage increases and benefits.

Alternatively, FSU representatives said that while the Patrick administration speaks at length of the invaluable assets and importance of the faculty, it is unwilling to put any of the talk into contract writing.