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UMass Boston's independent, student-run newspaper

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

Negotiations-When Will the Gloves Come Off?

Almost a year ago, in November 2000, the Graduate Employee Organization (GEO) here at UMass Boston voted to join UAW 1596. At that time, after speaking with Lisa Davis, a Union Organizer with Local 1596, The Mass Media reported that the GEO was expected to propose that graduate stipends be increased, graduate student fees be remitted and that the University contribute to graduate student health care packages.

Those were the primary goals going into the GEO’s first contract negotiations. This week, in the final line of our cover article, JP Goodwin reports that “none of the issues related to graduate assistant salaries and benefits have been settled.”

A spokesperson for UAW Local 1596 states that talks are “moving very slowly…no money issues have been discussed.” A spokesperson for the University states that they are “wrestling with some difficult issues in trying to put together a fair proposal.”

It is obvious that negotiations aren’t going well.

It is impossible to tell if it is a conscious tactic, or just inherent in the nature of state bureaucracies, but stalling appears prevalent at UMB.

And stalling is effective.

Since the minimum annual salary at UMass Amherst is $12,000 for a master’s candidate, and the minimum at UMass Boston is $2,000, it is possible to imagine that UMass Boston has managed to save at least $10,000 per graduate assistant. It is equally easy to imagine that each master’s candidate graduate assistant at UMB has lost $10,000.

How many times have the students and employees here at UMB seen this type of situation? The University implies, all but admits, that the present circumstances are not fair. And then embarks on a year or two of “negotiations,” only to make no progress in the year or two that transpires, letting those that are being exploited remain exploited, and a year or two older. A year or two more tired. A year or two closer to graduating or retiring. A year or two closer to when they may possibly disappear and stop instigating trouble.

How long is too long? The GEO originally joining the union could have been interpreted as stating, “enough is enough!”

Now a year has passed since the GEO stood up and stated that they would not accept a sub-standard wage any longer.

Yet another year has passed.

Stalling seems to be one of UMB’s strong points.

This prevalence of stalling as a tactic is a disincentive to negotiate in good faith. As people learn to see this pattern of behavior, they will perhaps decide to skip the step of negotiation and go straight for the jugular-whether through a strike or a lawsuit. When one side perceives that the other is playing dirty, the gentleman’s rules end: the gloves come off.

Negotiations may be delayed, but the stalling is reaching full speed.