Board of Trustees Convenes, Passes Resolution In Support of Unions

Gin Dumcius

The UMass Board of Trustees last Wednesday held a meeting at UMass Boston, passing a resolution in support of the unions, who have long been lobbying for salary increases.

The resolution was taken care of right away, near the beginning of the meeting. The resolution stated that the Board of Trustees “reiterates its support for the negotiated salary increases,” calling it a “matter of disappointment, for all parties concerned that negotiated salary increases have not been funded and that the University’s hard working employees continue to await expected wage increases.” The wage increases, numbered at an average 5% a year, had been vetoed by Acting Governor Jane Swift last summer

UMass President William Bulger said he was “heartened” by all the dialogue between his office and the faculty and staff, stating that the faculty and staff has been “sailing against the wind, yet persevered and made heading.”

Tom Goodkind, a member of UMB’s Professional Staff Union, Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 509, spoke on behalf of the union at the meeting in the small Chancellor’s Conference Room on the third floor of the Quinn Administration Building. “We are more important than a new building; we are more valuable than new administrative software. And resolving the infrastructural crisis of our contracts should be the number one budgetary priority of this board and of each campus administration,” he said. Later he added, “We are glad they passed the resolution,” but that he would like to see some action now.

Prior to the meeting, an estimated 60 to 75 union members lined the walls of the catwalk outside Healey Library, waiting for the Board of Trustees to come down from a private breakfast. Assorted faculty and staff chanted, “We demand to be heard, now is the time, keep your word,” while holding up signs which said the same. Flyers were passed out, instructing the gathered throng to cheer and chant “Keep your word, help make UMass greater,” if the resolution passed, and to jeer and chant “Fund our contracts or we can’t work” if it didn’t.

An article ran in The Boston Globe the next day, with a top legislator and a spokesperson for Governor Mitt Romney saying that the raises are unlikely. House Ways and Means Chairman John H. Rogers (D- Norwood) was quoted as saying, “There is no way we will be able to fund these contracts,” and Romney spokesperson Jodi Charles stated that there was “no money” for the raises.

Goodkind says that the union was going to keep doing whatever it takes in the legislature and on campus to get university funding. “It’s going to be a long struggle, and part of a larger struggle for the university,” he said.