MTA disputes UMass Amherst's budget analysis

MTA disputes UMass Amherst's budget analysis

The following letter was sent to UMass Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy from MTA President Merrie Najimy and Vice President Max Page today in response to the chancellor’s claim that UMass Amherst is suffering a $170 million budget loss.

Dear Chancellor Subbaswamy,

We are dismayed by both the attitude and analysis expressed in your Sept. 16 letter to the UMass Amherst community.

You paint a dire financial picture that is more speculative than real, and you make painful job cuts seem like an inevitability when they are not.

The $170 million “budget loss” is a manufactured projection. Tuition figures are actually better than you expected – as you yourself acknowledged to the Faculty Senate a day later. State funding is steady through October and legislators are universally in favor of continuing that level-funding through the end of the fiscal year. Furthermore, federal aid is forthcoming, sooner or later. As we have been asking all along, you should join us in demanding sufficient assistance from Washington, D.C.

The UMass Board of Trustees created much of this problem by requiring that you assume a 10 % state budget cut. You have doggedly repeated that as if the Legislature as already enacted that cut, which it has not. Instead, you have used this invented state budget cut to make outrageous and damaging cuts to the campus. Your public and private statements that the legislature intends to cut us dramatically is both wrong and disrespectful of the efforts of our legislators.

In your letter you say that cost-savings have been exhausted. This cynically undermines the agreement just reached between your administration and the PSU and USA staff unions. That agreement hinges on a joint labor-management committee exploring the savings in several ideas that employees tried to bring forward during bargaining but were dismissed by your management team.

We will not allow you to divide us as workers. Staff and faculty are united in working to protect jobs, maintain the high quality of UMass Amherst and ensure everyone’s health and safety during the pandemic.

Again, we ask you to stop spreading an unfounded austerity narrative and instead be our partner in fighting for funding and creatively sustaining the mission of UMass Amherst.