UMass and unions reach agreement on honoring contracts

University of Massachusetts President Martin Meehan has agreed to pay the back wages owed to thousands of employees who settled labor contracts with UMass but were shortchanged by Meehan’s predecessor, Robert Caret.

UMass union members protest on Boston Common

UMass Boston union members and supporters rallied for a fair contract at the school's 50th anniversary celebration on Boston Common in October, 2014.

MTA members in the seven faculty and staff unions spread across the UMass system mounted organized actions over several months to protest the delay in receiving negotiated wages for bargaining agreements settled late last year and earlier this year. The state Department of Labor Relations issued a complaint against UMass in response to unfair labor practice charges brought by the MTA and joined by other unions representing UMass employees, further bolstering workers’ arguments that the university had sufficient funding to pay employees their negotiated wages.

Meehan has indicated that UMass will pay all retroactive wages due. If agreed-upon timelines are met, the MTA and other unions will withdraw the DLR complaint, for which a hearing has been set in November.

“Our members and members of the other unions on UMass campuses are finally receiving the money owed to them,” said MTA President Barbara Madeloni. “Throughout this process, they demonstrated solidarity with each other and to union principles and ultimately prevailed. This type of solidarity and strength works for our students, our schools and colleges, and all working people.”

"Our members and members of the other unions on UMass campuses are finally receiving the money owed to them.”
— MTA President Barbara Madeloni

MTA members in the seven faculty and staff unions spread across the UMass system mounted organized actions over several months to protest the delay in receiving negotiated wages for bargaining agreements.

Prior to Meehan taking office, several labor unions settled contracts with UMass covering a period that began in July 2014, when previous contracts expired. Former UMass President Caret did not pay the full retroactive salaries owed to employees once the contacts were implemented. Caret maintained that the Legislature did not supply sufficient funding for the contracts. Meehan, however, made clear when he was named Caret’s successor that he would honor the settled contracts.

“President Meehan made clear that he respects the power and validity of labor contracts, and he kept his word to us that he would resolve this issue as quickly as possible,” Madeloni said. “He and I are both pleased that we could resolve this issue at the start of the new school year, and the MTA looks forward to working with President Meehan on securing the necessary funding from the Legislature in the years ahead to make UMass both accessible and top quality.”

Earlier Coverage of UMass Contract Struggle