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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Fight For Salary Increases Continues

University union activists distribute leaflets in McCormack Hall.
University union activists distribute leaflets in McCormack Hall.

Representatives with petition clipboards and yellow balloons went out in teams on Wednesday, October 16 to gather signatures and support for what has become a long and hard fight by UMass union members. Also, in the first floor of the McCormack Building at the information booth, Tom Goodkind and others were onhand to educate passersby about the contract dispute.

The effort was part of a statewide campus call-in effort that took place simultaneously at 29 campuses in the state college, university, and community college system across Massachusetts. Representatives wandered from office to office, asking people to sign the petition to fund the salary increases. They also asked people who their state representatives were, when people answered they consulted a list of reps who have come out in support of the contracts.

The reason representatives in the state legislature are being targeted in the call-in is because the legislature has the power to override Governor Swift’s veto of the raises, and according to the literature of UMass (Boston!) Unions United, “Speaker Finneran has not allowed the override of the veto of [their] contracts to come up for a vote.”

The two main demands of the ongoing campaign are for UMass President William Bulger to publicly state that he wants House Speaker Finneran to bring the legislature into formal session and for Finneran to follow Bulger’s public request. The UMass unions hope that sequence of events will lead to an ovverride veto of Swift’s original veto.

Because of a recent comment by Shannon O’Brien made at the Mass AFL-CIO convention in support of funding and renouncing the current tactics in the state house UMass Unions United had a specific interest in O’Brien voters. O’Brien, during the course of her speech said “A deal’s a deal”, one of the main slogans of the higher ed unions. At the McCormack info booth one of the secondary questions people were asked was, “Are you an O’Brien voter?” If the person answered yes, then they were given a form postcard to sign and fill in their name, thanking O’Brien for supporting the contracts and reminding her to keep her promise if elected.

Tom Goodkind of the SEIU said that the Higher Ed Unions United are trying to get the contract issue out of the way before January 1, 2003, but also said that “if elected [Swift] would support re-submitting the contracts.”

Another union member at the info booth pointed out the fact that people who accepted the early retirement incentive at the end of the 2001-2002 academic year saved the university $8 million, and “those people haven’t been replaced, where’s the money going?”

Another question that will no doubt be at issue in the upcoming weeks is the Acting Governor’s recent veto of an additional $6 million from the Commonwealth’s Higher Education System.

About the Contributor
Natalia Cooper served as news editor for The Mass Media the following years: 2001-2002; *2002-2003 *News writer Gin Dumcius filled in as news editor for Spring 2003 before returning to their writer position. Disclaimer: Years served is based on online database and may not detail entire service.