Unions demand fairness for UMass employees
A long line of union members from UMass Boston and their supporters demonstrated near the State House as UMass administrators marched nearby to celebrate the school’s 50th anniversary.
More than 100 demonstrators calling for fair labor contracts for faculty and staff throughout the UMass system brought their message to administrators who gathered in Boston for the 50th anniversary of UMass Boston.
Members of MTA affiliates representing classified and professional staff, graduate employees and faculty at UMass Boston organized the October 7 rally. They were joined by MTA members of other higher education locals, MTA staff members and representatives of labor and social justice organizations in the city.
As administrators from the UMass system marched from the State House to Boston Common to celebrate the 50th anniversary, the demonstrators lined Beacon Street, carrying signs demanding respect for employees and highlighting the vast pay disparity between employees and management in the UMass system.
The demonstrators also highlighted the contradictory messages of the UMass administration, which publicly touts the success of UMass while claiming in negotiations with workers that it needs to take back benefits. “The UMass system provides incredible opportunities to students,” said MTA President Barbara Madeloni, who was among the demonstrators.
“Those opportunities are made possible by the staff and faculty that are well represented here today, and it is outrageous that they are being asked for givebacks and concessions while the president touts the prosperity of UMass,” Madeloni said. “These are dedicated professionals and educators who deserve to be treated fairly.”
The UMass Boston event was the first in UMass President Robert Caret’s annual “bus tour” around the state promoting the state’s flagship university. Faculty and staff, frustrated by months of contentious bargaining, have emphasized that the success of UMass is built on the work and dedication of the same staff and faculty who are being asked for dramatic changes in compensation and working conditions that were negotiated years ago.
A coalition of unions representing workers at UMass campuses in Amherst, Boston, Lowell and Dartmouth brought their concerns to the UMass Board of Trustees at the board’s meeting in September, but the unions report that little has changed at the bargaining table since then.
Tom Goodkind, president of the Professional Staff Union at UMass Boston, said that the unified locals on his campus will continue to organize demonstrations as long as negotiations drag on.