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Massachusetts Society of Professors

The Union of Faculty and Librarians at UMass Amherst

Campaigns

MSP at the 2017 March for Science in Boston

The MSP is an activist union. When problems come up on campus, we mobilize our members to speak up, and we work together to find solutions. We know that our strength is in our collective action and our strong membership. We fight for “bread-and-butter” contractual issues including salary and benefits, and we also work on social justice issues that are important to our members.

Faculty and librarians are committed to our students and the wider community, and we work to make UMass the best university it can be. To that end, we advocate for public higher education at the state and national level. The MSP is committed to:

If there is an issue that aligns with MSP's values that you would like to work on and think MSP should be a part of, contact the office to talk about starting a new campaign.

Fair Share Amendment

The Fair Share Amendment would amend the Massachusetts constitution to include "an additional tax of 4 percent on that portion of annual taxable income in excess of $1,000,000 (one million dollars)" which would be spent only on transportation and public education. This would in turn provide a recurring $2 Biillion to the MA budget for education and transportation. The Fair Share Amendment will be on the November 2022 ballot. 

In order to win this ballot election, MTA members need to organize. That is why the MTA is holding a Summer Member Organizing Program, with paid positions, to mobilize the MTA membership of 115,000. This involves canvassing and calling other members and the community to help pass the Fair Share Amendment ballot initiative in the November general election. 

MTA Fair Share Amendment Presentation

 

Contract Bargaining

RATIFICATION OF 2020-2023 SUCCESSOR AGREEMENT (voting open 4/6-4/11/22 at 5 pm)
Summary of tentative agreement
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
The MSP resumed negotiations for our 2021-2023 successor contract in March 2021.  

Please see our list of 2021 bargaining principles. Our priorities remain:

  • Salary and benefits (across the board raises, merit, better dental and vision)
  • Issues pertaining to Non-Tenure-Track faculty (expanding the Professional Improvement Leave program, introducing a Teaching Tenure Track, calculating continuing appointment by semesters not FTE)
  • Online education (defining multi-modal as two courses, payment or workload adjustments for developing online courses)
  • Gender and racial equity (more equitable workload processes, increasing pathway hires)
  • Climate justice and sustainability (closing campus the week of thanksgiving and between Christmas and New Year’s, reducing food waste, eliminating plastic water bottles from campus)

The Contract Bargaining Team consists of Eve Weinbaum (Labor Center), Asha Nadkarni (English), Jacquie Kurland (Communication Disorders), Marc Liberatore (Computer Science), Kate Zdepski (Libraries), Heather LaPenn (MTA), Mickey Gallagher (MSP) and Lori Reardon (MSP).

Contract Bargaining Update Archive

3/25/22 Membership Meeting (PowerPoint Presentation)
1/31/2022
4/23/2021
4/16/2021
4/2/2021
3/26/2021
11/18/2021 (NTT Bargaining Update Meeting)
11/19/2021

 

COVID-19 Response

 

Memorandum of Agreement Pertaining to COVID Vaccinations Series (executed 8/6/21)
 

Memorandum of Agreement Pertaining to Misc. COVID-related Matters (aka Fall 2021 Reopening Agreement) -- executed 5/21/21
 

Memorandum of Agreement Pertaining to Fall 2020 Reopening of Campus (executed 8/19/20)

 

MSP FAQ About Reopening Campus

 

The MSP is continuing to collect and answer questions from members.  Many questions require significant research, and often advocacy, before we can offer definitive answers.  If you have a question that has not yet been answered, please check back soon or email us at msp@umass.edu.

 

The FAQs below were updated on 7/17/2020 and cover the following topics: Teaching Face-to Face, Teaching Online, Workload Adjustment Eligibility, Workload Adjustment Options, Technology Assistance Funds, Intellectual Property Rights and Academic Freedom, Childcare and Eldercare Assistance, Dealing with Illness, Health and Safety, and Parking.

 

 

Teaching Face-to-Face (F2F)

 

I said I would teach a face-to-face course in the fall, or do lab/library work on campus, but I am in a high-risk category and don’t feel safe.  What should I do?

Start by talking with your chair/head.  If you can move your course online, or switch with a colleague who is happy to teach on campus, great.  Otherwise, the HR Department has a centralized portal where you can request to work remotely rather than teach/work on campus.  You should fill out this form if you or someone in your household is in a high-risk category, or if you expect to have young children at home and you cannot come to campus: https://www.umass.edu/humres/flexible-working-arrangement-form.

 

What happens if some of my students might not be able to return to campus -- because they are out of the country or at high risk of getting sick -- but are registered in my face-to-face course?

The Campus Reopening Plan says that students who cannot be on campus "should meet remotely with their advisor so their schedule can be adjusted to only include fully remote courses." Anyone who will not be on campus (for any reason) should not be enrolled in face-to-face courses.

 

I am hoping to teach some of my classes F2F. Do I have a choice about this or did I miss a deadline for indicating this to my Department Chair or Dean?

Departments were surveyed about which courses were “essential” for face-to-face or hands-on learning. Only those courses identified as essential F2F are being offered online. If you want to teach your course F2F, and you know that your students will be on campus, tell your Chair or Dean -- they may be willing to make it happen.

 

My course is online but I’d like to meet with my students at least once this fall -- can I do that?

If you’re teaching a small class and you’d like to meet in person with your students who are on campus, ask your chair/head about that possibility.  As long as it is safe -- e.g., outside, with face coverings and appropriate distance -- students would appreciate being able to get together with each other and with you.  If you need an indoor classroom space, that may be more difficult -- it is up to your college and EH&S. 

 

What happens if a significant number of students in my F2F course can't attend classes in person because they are in quarantine or sick?

The same rules apply as when students get sick during any semester: faculty will be expected to be compassionate, to give students a chance to complete the required coursework if possible, and to give incompletes if necessary. If it becomes necessary to move the course online because students are not on campus, discuss that with your chair/head as soon as possible. 

 

If students enrolled in an essential F2F class can't attend in person for a significant amount of time, will they need to withdraw or take an incomplete?

Yes, if a student cannot do the work that is required for the course, they should withdraw or take an incomplete.

 

Teaching Online

I want to teach a great online course in the fall.  How should I start?

Many resources are available on campus -- we encourage you to start early and take advantage of these opportunities.  Here are some ways to get started now:

  • Request your Moodle Course in SPIRE here. You can do this right now.
  • Once you’re in Moodle, you'll see that there's a "Flex Forward" course on the left-hand side. All faculty are encouraged to use this resource to help with course content.
  • Use this central web portal to get resources to develop courses. 
  • The Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) has resources for Flexible Course (Re)Design (this is mostly about pedagogy)
  • University Without Walls (UWW) has a central web portal for developing online courses (this is mostly about how to use online technology).
  • Ask for help or a consultation through the central help request using this help request form.
  • IT is offering a series of Instructional Technology Workshops, starting immediately. Register here.

 

I see that the MSP negotiated “workload adjustments” for converting to a high-quality online course. 

In the past, the MSP negotiated compensation for the effort required to create an online course.  This year, the state would not agree to financial compensation, so we negotiated workload adjustments to compensate faculty for our additional effort this summer.  If you create a high-quality online course, you will have your choice of three possible adjustments for each course:

  1. A future course release – timing to be determined with approval of the Chair in one of the following seven semesters;
  2. one year of sabbatical credit; 
  3. one year of credit towards continuous appointment (for NTT only without altering the contractual review process). 

 

Will my course qualify for the workload adjustment?

In general, if you are teaching a three-credit or four-credit course, with more than 12 students, and you had to put in significant effort to convert it to an online course, your course will qualify for the workload adjustment.  If your class is very small and discussion-based (e.g. most graduate seminars), or if it is a one-credit or two-credit course, it typically would not be eligible for a workload adjustment.  There are circumstances where the instructor has to put in extraordinary effort to convert a small class to high-quality online, and the administration will evaluate those situations on a case-by-case basis.  Some intensive classes, such as clinical courses that require simulation software, or community engagement courses that require entire new curricula, will be eligible for the workload adjustment even if there are fewer than 12 students enrolled.

 

How is a “high-quality online course” defined and who determines if a course meets this definition? 

MSP is working with the administration to agree on a definition and some guidelines for faculty. For now, instructors should think about what technologies and/or instructional materials will work for their students, and should have a well thought-out plan for teaching in a way that engages their students and clearly explains their workload and expectations. Anyone who puts in the effort to convert a traditional face-to-face course to online, or to create a new online course, should get the workload adjustments that MSP negotiated.

 

Do we need to document our efforts for how we have engaged with IDEAS and CTL? How much engagement is required for a workload adjustment?

In general, it is always a good idea to document everything around here. But we do not expect engagement with IDEAS or CTL to be mandatory -- some faculty have other resources to create excellent online activities, and that's fine. You know best what constitutes a "high-quality" course in your field, and you should do what works best for your subject and your students.  We do encourage everyone to take advantage of existing resources on campus, to make the transition to online teaching easier and more satisfying.

 

How is one year of sabbatical credit defined?

One year of sabbatical credit means that you get two semesters in the sabbatical "bank" toward your next sabbatical. You can see details in Appendix C of the MSP contract.

 

As a new NTT faculty member, I would normally be eligible for review for continuous appointment after 3 FTE years. With a workload adjustment of credit towards continuous appointment would I be eligible after only 2 years?

Yes!

 

I am worried about the impact the workload adjustments are going to have in my department. There could be a large number of faculty qualifying for multiple course releases. 

The administration was concerned about this too. Because the MSP recognized that too many course releases would be hard on certain departments, we agreed that course releases could only be used during a semester approved by the department chair/head, and we also agreed to spread them out over seven semesters so that everyone can't take their course release at once. Sabbaticals similarly must be approved by the administration and the chair/head or dean may ask you to delay by a semester or a year to meet student/program needs. But you are entitled to the credit in exchange for putting in significant effort this year.

 

When should we start discussing our workload adjustment with the department chair/head?

There will be a new field in the APWS system that will allow you to select your workload adjustment. Your selection will be officially documented, and you should keep a record of the course release, sabbatical credit, or credit toward continuous appointment. 

 

Workload Adjustment Eligibility

If I transitioned a class online for the second half of Spring 2020 and am now converting that class fully online for Fall or Spring 2021 would it still count as a new conversion and qualify for a workload adjustment?

Yes. What we did during spring break was considered an emergency move to "remote" teaching -- we were not expected to create "high-quality fully online" courses (and we were not compensated to do so). If you teach the same course as a high-quality fully online course during 2020-2021, you will receive a workload adjustment for the additional effort required this summer.

 

How will one-credit honors seminars or first-year seminars work?

As far as we know, all of these courses will move online. We do not expect a full course release to be granted for these courses, which are small and discussion-based -- although we have asked for some type of additional compensation. We encourage faculty who are teaching first-year seminars to utilize existing resources, including external modules and campus librarians and staff, to supplement the curriculum and to make your life a little easier.

 

If my course is already multimodal or fully online, would I qualify for a workload adjustment? 

Sorry, no. You should have received compensation for converting to multi-modal or fully online when you did that work, so you won't be entitled to additional compensation now.

 

If I have previously taught a course online, but it was substantially different (for example a few students through UWW versus now transitioning to a large university course online), would I still qualify for a workload adjustment?

If you are putting in significant additional effort to create a high-quality online course, you will receive a workload adjustment. If you taught a hybrid course before, or a course that was very different from the course you will be teaching this fall, that should count as a new high-quality online course. But we may have to look at the details and discuss these courses with the administration on a case-by-case basis.

 

I’m teaching a class I have never taught online -- however another faculty member has taught it online before.  I am not reusing their materials -- I am generating a substantial amount of new, original content.  Would I get a workload adjustment?

Yes. It doesn't matter if the course has been taught by someone else. If you are creating a new course, or converting a new course to fully online, you are eligible for the workload adjustment.

 

I am not converting a F2F course -- I am teaching a class for the first time.  Will this count towards the workload adjustment?

Yes. If you are putting in the effort to create a high-quality fully online course, you are eligible for the workload adjustment.

 

I am converting a course to online and teaching it this summer (it was previously taught face-to-face last spring, but will not be taught in the fall). Can I get a course release?

Sorry, no. Summer courses are not "University session" and will not be eligible for workload adjustments.

 

Are there any class sizes that would not qualify for this workload adjustment? (e.g., small graduate seminars?)

Yes, small courses (grad or undergrad) with 12 or fewer students that are run as discussion-based seminars -- the same as you've taught in person, except on Zoom rather than in a classroom -- are not eligible for a workload adjustment. The principle is that if you do not have to put in significant additional effort to create new curricula, you are not entitled to a course release or sabbatical credit.  If you do have to put in major effort to create the online course, that would make it eligible for the workload adjustment. 

 

Workload Adjustment Options

If I am converting two classes to a high-quality online course this semester, will I receive a workload adjustment for each course? 

Yes! The workload adjustments are per course. If you are planning to teach more than two courses, however, we would be concerned that it is a huge amount of work to convert three or four courses to high-quality online courses. If that is your situation, the department/college may want to cancel one of your courses and negotiate other ways of adjusting your workload. The MSP will be happy to talk with you if that is the case.

 

If I am unable to use one of the workload adjustments being offered (because I am leaving the university after next year) how much money would I receive? 

Anyone who chooses the course release option and then leaves the university will receive $7,000 per course release. This is the minimum pay for one course according to the MSP contract.

 

Are there any provisions for workload adjustments for Visiting Professors, NTT faculty with short-term appointments, or NTT faculty with appointments ending this Fall or Spring, who would not be able to use a course release or time towards continuing appointment?

Yes, everyone in the MSP bargaining unit is eligible for a workload adjustment if you do the work to create a high-quality online course. If you plan to leave the university, you should choose the course release option -- and if you cannot use the course release before you leave, you will receive $7,000 per unused course release when you leave UMass.

 

Can NTT faculty get a year of credit toward a sabbatical?

No. NTT faculty are not eligible for sabbaticals so they cannot receive that credit. NTT faculty are eligible to apply for Professional Improvement Leave after six years at UMass; this provides a semester of paid leave but the process is not the same as a sabbatical. NTT faculty should choose either the credit toward continuous appointment (for newer faculty) or the course release option.

 

Clinical faculty have transitioned our clinic to telepractice. How can we receive adjustments for the immense change in workload and how does this compare to converting a course to online?

We're working on it! We have discussed this issue with the administration and we will let you know as soon as we have a solution for our clinical faculty.

 

Technology Assistance Funds

I have an old computer on the verge of death -- how can I get a replacement?

The MSP has negotiated a significant fund that includes computer replacements (the old MSP-negotiated computer replacement fund) as well as new technology needs. The announcement and request for applications will be posted next week (week of July 20, 2020)-- don't miss it!  Priority will go to people who need a new computer/tablet for remote teaching and research.  If you also applied for the computer replacement fund during the 2019-20 year, you will also have priority for these funds this summer.

 

I have very low speed internet access that will need to be updated to teach online in the fall.  Can I get support for better home internet? 

Yes. You can submit an application to the technology and computer replacement fund for enhanced internet at your home. This may be paid as a grant or stipend rather than a reimbursement; in that case it would count as taxable income. Watch for the application coming soon. 

 

How do I access technology funds in order to address some computer software and/or hardware needs that will allow me to do my job better?

The technology funds will be announced shortly, and the application will be online. There will be a choice of computers and tablets. If you choose one of the pre-existing options, the university will purchase it and you can pick it up on campus. If you need a specific type of hardware/software, you can put in a special request and it will take a bit longer. As with any computer purchase with university funds, UMass will own the equipment, but you can use it at home. 

 

Intellectual Property Rights and Academic Freedom

What intellectual property rights do I have when I am teaching over Zoom or remotely?

You retain the rights to all of your creative contributions to your courses, whether you are using Zoom, Blackboard, Moodle, or any other platform.  You cannot be asked to give your course shell or any course materials to anyone else.  No one may use any of your materials without your express permission.  MSP members have strong intellectual property rights whether you teach on campus or online.

 

Does the MSP have guidelines for online course syllabi and copyright?

Yes. Please read our guidelines which cover course materials, recordings, steps to protect your materials, copyright of others and guidelines for specific content.

 

Do I have to teach my course synchronously? Do I have to use Zoom?

No. You don't have to use any specific software -- faculty should teach in the way that works best for your students. Faculty are encouraged to have some synchronous meetings to meet and engage the students.  If you teach synchronously, you must use the time slot you were assigned, so that students do not end up with conflicting schedules. If you decide to hold just a few synchronous meetings and to use other methods to engage your students in between classes, that is fine. Consult with experts and use your best judgment in designing a great course.

 

Do I have to hold synchronous office hours? What if 50 percent of my students are in Asia or in another time zone?

Many faculty would rather hold a couple of synchronous office hours per week, so that you are not expected to be available to your students online 24/7. If you have many students in other time zones, it might work to hold some asynchronous "office hours." If you prefer other methods for responding to students and engaging with their ideas, and it works for you and for them, by all means go for it!

 

Childcare and Eldercare Assistance

What options are available for childcare or eldercare assistance?

The MSP has expanded our Childcare Assistance Funds to support faculty and librarians. For the first time, the administration will support elder care as well as childcare needs, for any faculty (tenure-track or NTT) or librarian. We know that the funds will not be sufficient to cover all childcare needs but we are pleased that the administration has created this pool of funds for our colleagues who have young children at home.  Funds will be available at the end of Fall 2020.

 

What options are available for childcare leave, especially since there is insufficient availability of daycare and K-12 schools might be closed or operating on different schedules?

If you have young children at home because of COVID-19-related closures, you have two options. First, you can do your work from home. If you’re unable to work from home, your second option is to take a leave for the semester.  You do not have to take an unpaid leave; you can use the FFCRA (below).

 

How does the FFCRA work and how much compensation will I receive?

FFCRA will provide ⅔ of your regular pay for 12 weeks, up to a maximum of $12,000, if your children’s daycare/school is closed because of COVID-19 and you have no alternative care.  This is not enough, but it is better than taking an unpaid leave.  You can learn more about the program here: https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic/ffcra-employer-paid-leave.  If you need to take the FFCRA leave, the MSP can help you navigate the process. 

 

If we choose to not send children to school because of the high-risk environment will there be pushback from the university if the child’s school is in fact open? What about people who have nannies or other childcare providers?

If you have children at home, you will have the option of working from home.  You will not be eligible for FFCRA paid leave unless schools are actually closed and you have no suitable alternative. If you have a nanny or other childcare provider, you are eligible for subsidies from the MSP-negotiated childcare and elder care assistance funds.

 

How can we set reasonable expectations given caregiving needs at home? 

The MSP is consistently advocating for reasonable, humane expectations for all members of the UMass community during this difficult time.  The provost is in full agreement and has written standards encouraging personnel evaluations to take into account the challenges of the pandemic. We have negotiated automatic extensions for tenure and reappointment clocks last semester, and the elimination of SRTIs for last semester and the coming year -- we hope that these provisions will go a long way in relieving stress for many MSP members.  At the same time, we urge faculty to remember that students are also facing extraordinary challenges.  By setting reasonable expectations for our students, we can also reduce the burdens on ourselves. 

 

Dealing with Illness

What should I do if I am sick with COVID-19?  

Any students, faculty or staff who are concerned about potential exposure to COVID-19 should contact the University Health Services Triage Advice Nurse at 413-577-5229 for further guidance. Employees with symptoms have the right to be tested at University Health Services.  If you are concerned that you or another employee may be ill with COVID-19, please contact your chair/head as well as the COVID-19 Response Team at 413-687-2283 or COVID19HR@umass.edu.  Their response will include, as appropriate, attention to an individual’s health concerns, notification of potentially affected groups, and steps to manage and clean university facilities.  To minimize the spread of the virus, employees who are ill with COVID-19 are advised to remain at home until cleared by their local public health department.

 

Will we need to share medical information in order to take a sick leave or caregiving leave? 

Your medical and family information will always be confidential. Your department chair/head/dean does not have a right to any private information. If you need to take a paid sick leave or FMLA leave, you have to provide documentation to the Human Resources office, including the official FMLA form.  HR will keep your documentation confidential.
 

Where can I find more information on applying for a sick leave or caregiving leave?

You can find all of the information on how to apply for a sick leave or caregiving leave, including information on FMLA and documentation you will need to fill out on our website: https://umassmsp.org/work-life-policies/.  Please contact the MSP office if you need any assistance applying for a leave.

 

Health and Safety

How is it determined which faculty and librarians can work from home?

Faculty and librarians are assumed to be working from home UNLESS you have already agreed to teach or work on campus.  The on-campus category includes, for example, some faculty with labs, studios, clinics, or animals on campus, and some librarians who work with archives and special collections. 

 

If you have a condition that puts you into a high-risk category, can the administration deny you the right to work remotely?

No.  If you are at high risk for COVID-19 complications, the university will make sure you can work remotely.  If you are having trouble with this, please contact the MSP. 

 

Will we need to share medical information to prove that we are at high risk or have a high-risk faculty member in our household?

We expect all MSP members will be working at home unless you specifically agreed to teach a face-to-face class, or to work in archives or special collections in the library. If you are asked to be on campus and you do not feel safe, please contact the MSP. 

 

Is regular testing available for all on-campus staff, faculty and students?

COVID-19 testing -- the virus test, not the antibody test -- will be available free of charge to staff, faculty, and students who show symptoms.  Testing will not be available on-demand to asymptomatic individuals at this time. 

 

If we are on campus teaching face-to-face, what is our right to know exposure risks including air quality, adequate ventilation and cleaning plans?

MSP members have the right to a safe and healthy workplace, according to the MSP contract and state law.  The MSP, along with all of the other unions on campus, has asked for detailed information about air quality, ventilation, and sanitization plans for all spaces where our members will be working.  Environmental Health and Safety is gathering this data and sharing it with the unions.  If you have concerns about a particular workplace, please contact the MSP and we can ask for the information you need.  

 

Are there isolation or quarantine spaces for faculty, staff and students who get sick?

Only students who live in the dorms will have access to isolation or quarantine space on campus.  Anyone who lives off-campus -- students, staff, or faculty -- will be expected to isolate or quarantine at home if they are sick or exposed to COVID-19.  

 

Parking

Parking Services currently says that pausing our parking is not an option. 

Yes, this is unfair.  Parking Services has unilaterally decided to end the previous option of putting parking on hold when an employee will not be on campus. The MSP has filed a grievance demanding that this option be reinstated. No one should lose access to their current lot while working remotely because of COVID-19. 

 

I already paid to renew my parking permit for the coming year, because I was afraid I would lose my parking spot!  Now I don’t plan to be on campus and I would like a refund. 

If the MSP wins our grievance, you will be able to get reimbursed. Past practice was that if someone was on an approved leave and not coming to campus, they would receive a reimbursement for unused parking. That should certainly be true during this pandemic. 

 

I haven’t renewed my parking permit but I don’t want to lose my spot -- what should I do?

If you’re worried about losing your parking spot, go ahead and renew now: https://www.umass.edu/transportation/permits.  You can use payroll deductions to pay in installments.  If MSP wins our grievance, and you don’t need parking this year, you will be entitled to a refund.  

 

For More Information

Please see the above FAQ for the most up to date information. Spring 2020 FAQs covered the following: Tenure, reappointment, promotion, continuing appointment; dealing with illness; support for remote teaching; research and technology support; long-term implications of COVID-19 response; setting reasonable expectations given care-giving needs; financial burdens; support for students; retrenchment, furloughs, layoffs and unemployment insurance and more information. To find answers to many other questions, including issues that affect faculty, staff, and students, please see the university’s comprehensive website with information about the COVID-19 epidemic: https://www.umass.edu/coronavirus/

 

 


 

Climate and Environmental Justice

UMass Amherst Environmental and Social Action Movement (ESAM)

The MSP is engaged in climate justice work through a multi-union effort to address the climate crisis. As union members and workers we aim to leverage our power to bargain with the administration around climate justice proposals which support  the campus goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2032 including good union job opportunities.  The multi-union group has several goals to achieve broad support for climate justice bargaining proposals, including:

  • Educating ourselves as members across unions 
  • Reaching out to students and inspiring action 
  • Building alliances with other campus and community groups
  • Participating in bargaining  on climate justice proposals

 

In Spring of 2021, the multi-union group linked arms with students to form the UMass Amherst Environmental and Social Action Movement (ESAM). For more information please contact Madeleine Charney, chairperson, MSP Climate Justice Committee at  mcharney@library.umass.edu.

 

Why is climate a labor issue?

 

By making climate a labor issue, we ensure that the inevitable transition to a low carbon economy takes into account the well being of affected workers. Our aim for a "just transition" means a fair process that does not cost any workers or community residents their health, environment, pay or benefits.  At the same time, the very future of a livable planet is at stake; it is critical that powerful organizations like unions successfully work with employers to dramatically decrease their institution’s carbon footprint.

 

Past Events
 

On October 14, 2021 ESAM hosted a Community Forum on Climate Change. There was a panel discussion on climate change, environmental justice and local initiatives for change featuring speakers who are unions organizers, students, local activists and Native American leaders. You can view the recording.

On June 22, 2021, 174 UMass Amherst employees attended an all-union member meeting joined by undergraduate and graduate students. The focus was sharing PSU, USA and MSP bargaining proposals that support and expand on the campus’ drive to be carbon neutral by 2032. The union proposals address remote work, additional campus closure days, incentives to reduce driving, retrofitting and green renovations of campus buildings, and more efficient heating and cooling across campus.

 

UMass Climate Justice Resources

 

Faculty Governance

Emergency faculty governance meeting following the Spring 2017 General Assembly

A core value of the MSP has always been the principle of faculty governance. Faculty and librarians have a crucial role in setting priorities, determining the curriculum, evaluating colleagues and administrators, and making the key decisions that affect our working conditions and our students’ learning conditions.

In the spring of 2017, following an emergency member meeting with over 150 faculty and librarians in attendance, the MSP created a new Task Force on Faculty Governance and Peer Review. We are reaching out to as many departments as possible, to gather information on tenure and promotion processes, hiring and search procedures, and other issues where peer review and faculty governance are crucial. We have also filed a formal information request with the administration, so that we have the most accurate data on tenure denials from 2014-17. MSP has filed many grievances in the past few years when the contract has been violated, and many faculty have attended hearings in support of their colleagues who have been treated unfairly.

100% Membership (All In)

Over 90% of UMass Amherst full-time faculty and librarians are members of the MSP, but we want everyone to be a part of our union. The MTA is launching a statewide “All In” campaign, and the MSP is working to get 100% of faculty and librarians to join us. The goal of “All In” is to build the power we need to win the gains we believe are most important for our students and ourselves.

We need the support of everyone to reach out to our colleagues in colleges, departments, and programs all across campus. This campaign is a lot of fun – it involves social activities and getting to know your colleagues on other parts of campus. Contact the MSP office if you are willing to speak to your colleagues about the union and for more information about how how you can help with the campaign.

Funding for Public Education

MSP Members at Springfield City Hall

On a per-student basis, state support for public higher education in Massachusetts is fully one third less than it was in 2001. The impact of this chronic underfunding is felt by students, faculty and staff. The MSP is deeply committed to championing public higher education and fighting to secure more funding for our Universities.

MSP members have been active fighting for funding for public higher education through the Fund Our Future campaign and PHENOM.

Fund Our Future

The Fund Our Future initiative is an MTA led coalition effort to increase funding for public education. Through the Fund Our Future campaign, our members have worked with educators and students across the state to put pressure on our legislators by educating the public, testifying at advocacy days and attending demonstrations.

Testifying at the State House for Higher Education Advocacy Day

PHENOM

In 2007 MSP helped found PHENOM, the Public Higher Education Network of Massachusetts. PHENOM is a statewide advocacy coalition and grassroots network uniting students, faculty, staff, alumni, and community members from all 29 campuses in the Massachusetts college and university system.

PHENOM is fighting to restore state funding for public higher education and to stand up for excellence for faculty, staff, and students alike. PHENOM works statewide, but also through individual campus councils, including a campus chapter at UMass Amherst.

Get Involved

We need your help in the fight for funding! If you want to join the Fund Our Future campaign or PHENOM contact Emily Steelhammer in the MSP office.

Racial Justice

We join you in grieving the murder of George Floyd and the many other Black victims of police brutality. At the same time, we are inspired to witness the mass mobilizations of peaceful demonstrators who are calling for profound and lasting change. MSP activists are participating actively in anti-racism work alongside K-12 teachers in the Massachusetts Teachers Association and with our sisters and brothers in the diverse unions represented in the Western Mass Area Labor Federation. [Please read MSP's full 6/5/2020 statement on racial justice that was sent to our membership.]

On 9/9/2020, The MSP organized and co-sponsored a panel, Labor and the Movement for Black Lives: Intersections of Economic and Racial Justice.  This panel featured short presentations by MSP members and UMass Amherst scholars and local union members, followed by a discussion with the audience. Facilitated by Asheesh Siddique (Assistant Professor of History), panelists included: Dean Robinson (Professor of Political Science), Ethel Everett (Western Mass Area Labor Federation and SEIU member), Brian Sargent (Assistant Professor of Sociology),  Youngmin Yi (Assistant Professor of Sociology), Toussaint Losier (Assistant Professor of African American Studies) and Kevin Young (Associate Professor of History).

Labor and the Movement for Black Lives: Intersections of Economic and Racial Justice [Watch on Vimeo]

The MSP was also a proud co-sponsor of “Perspectives on Covid-19 and Anti-Asian Bias and Xenophobia”.  On 9/23/2020 Members of the University of Massachusetts and surrounding Amherst area community participated in a discussion and Q&A titled “Perspectives on Covid-19 and Anti-Asian Bias and Xenophobia”. Watch the two hour event, including the Q&A.

Please contact the MSP office if you are interested in participating in union-led anti-racism efforts.

Immigrant Rights

MSP button in support of immigrants

In response to the rhetoric and policies coming from Washington, DC, the MSP began an Immigrants Rights Rapid Response Network. Our goal is to protect our immigrant faculty, students and staff from unfair interrogation, detention, or deportation. In coalition with the other campus unions and with the Pioneer Valley Workers Center, we are compiling a database of people willing to mobilize when immigrants in our community are at risk. In fall 2017 we co-sponsored a training on our campus about how to be a rapid responder in our communities. We hope to provide additional trainings for our members and will post updates when rapid response is urgent. Please contact the MSP office to sign up for our Immigrant Rights Rapid Response Network.

EDU (Educators for Democratic Union)

MSP member Max Page (Professor of Architecture) runs for MTA vice-president on the 2018 EDU slate

Educators for a Democratic Union (EDU) is a caucus of rank and file unionists within the Massachusetts Teachers Association (MTA) working to build a participatory, democratic, social justice movement in our union and communities. EDU’s members are higher education faculty, librarians and staff, K-12 teachers, Education Support Professionals, and more. EDU’s principles and beliefs include:

  • To thrive, our democracy requires public, not corporate, education
  • Respect and support teachers and education workers
  • Poverty undermines the education of our children
  • Educate the whole child, don’t teach to the test
  • Race, immigration status, and sexual preference should not be barriers to education
  • Free, high-quality public higher education for all
  • Defend the contributions of unions, including collective bargaining
  • Build a proactive, “bottom-up” and “inside-out” union with a long-range vision
  • Concessions of hard won rights and benefits must be a last resort, not a starting point

Merrie Najimy and Max Page on EDU and their 2018 MTA Presidential and Vice-Presidential campaign [Watch on Vimeo]

Section 60 Transfer from ORP to SERS

 
In 2011 the MTA won a great victory: the legislature passed a law allowing employees who were originally enrolled in the private Optional Retirement Program (ORP) to transfer to the public MSERS (Massachusetts State Employees' Retirement System).  Since 2014, after the IRS approved the transfer, two state agencies have been responsible for implementing Section 60: the State Retirement Board (SRB) and the Department of Higher Education (DHE), staff to the Board of Higher Education. Implementation has not gone smoothly, partly because the SRB and the DHE had to invent procedures where none existed, and partly because the SRB and the DHE did not have adequate resources for handling the increased workload.  Currently the most problematic aspect of implementation continues to be the transfer of ORP assets to the MSERS. MTA has been in constant communication with the SRB and the DHE about correcting errors, reminding staff about delays, insisting on equal enforcement of Section 60, calling attention to complications and offering recommendations for addressing them. MTA's role has saved members more than $100,000 in overcharges by the SRB.
 
The MSP has been working with the MTA to get answers to a number of questions our members have been raising about the Section 60 transfer process.  We know that many people still have not received the information about transferring their funds to the State Retirement Board, and other people have raised concerns about how the employee contribution will be calculated upon retirement -- the process is taking far too long and definitive answers have not been forthcoming from the SRB.  We are making progress, and we will continue to keep our members updated.  
 
2/9/2018 Update from Donna Siritus (MTA's expert on the Section 60 process) to the Higher Education Leadership Council (HELC): Section 60 Report to HELC
 
Materials distributed at the 12/12/17 MSP meting with Donna Sirutis and Mark Hickernell (MTA Attorney)

Labor Solidarity and Coalition Work

Solidarity for UMass adjuncts

An injury to one is an injury to all.  The labor movement is based on the idea that we are stronger together.  When we stand up for others, it isn’t because we are kind or selfless, but just the opposite: collective action is in our own self-interest.  We become stronger by lifting up others, and the next time we need help we will know where to turn.  MSP is active in several coalitions with other unions and organizations around the state.  We are a key part of at least four labor coalitions:

UMass Unions United (UUU)

UMass Unions United is a coalition of the labor unions mostly affiliated with the Massachusetts Teachers Association at UMass Amherst, Boston, Dartmouth, and Lowell. Recently the coalition has been planning actions to put pressure on both the Governor's office and the UMass President's office to settle good contracts. 

The UMass Amherst Labor Coalition

On the Amherst campus, MSP is part of the Amherst chapter of the UMass Unions United.  Our local Amherst Labor Coalition consists of all the unions on our campus, including: Professional Staff Union, University Staff Association, GEO/United Auto Workers 2322 and AFSCME 1776. The Coalition meets about once a month to discuss issues our members are facing and how we can support each other.

Western Massachusetts Area Labor Federation (WMALF)

The Western Massachusetts Area Labor Federation represents unions in the Pioneer Valley and Berkshires. They provide support for local unions and other organizations advocating for workers' rights.  We plan to work with the WMALF and with the Massachusetts AFL-CIO on media and political/legislative advocacy work as well.   

State Employee Labor Coalition

The coalition of state employees, including the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), National Association of Government Employees (NAGE), Massachusetts Nurses Association (MNA) and others who represent state workers meets and plans unions' strategies to work with the governor's office to improve the salary parameters offered to state employees. This group also discusses state policies that affect state workers, including changes to the GIC health insurance plans, and political campaigns.

UUU at a UMass Board of Trustees Meeting

 

Community Alliances

Gathering signatures for the Raise Up Mass ballot initiatives for paid family medical leave and a $15 minimum wage

The MSP works with and supports many community groups and organizations doing important social, political and labor work. Some of the organizations we support are:

  • Climate Action Now of Western Massachusetts (CAN) - CAN is dedicated to building a powerful climate justice movement in our region. We see this movement as essential to preventing climate catastrophe.
  • Mass Divest - Mass Divest is a coalition demanding that the Massachusetts Pension Fund stop funding climate disruption by divesting from its holdings in fossil fuels.
  • Massachusetts Education Justice Alliance (MEJA) - MEJA consists of students, parents, educators, community and union members who stand in support of universal, free public education. MTA is a major supporter of MEJA.
  • Massachusetts Jobs With Justice (JWJ) - JWJ connects labor, community, student, and faith-based organizations and activists to mobilize around workplace and community social justice campaigns.
  • Informing voters about a ballot question negatively impacting public schools
    Massachusetts Safe Communities Coalition - The Safe Communities Act would protect the civil rights of all state residents by making sure our tax dollars are not used to deport immigrant families or to create a Muslim registry.
  • Pioneer Valley Workers Center (PVWC) - The PVWC builds power with low-wage and immigrant workers, especially food service and farm workers in Western Massachusetts. PVWC holds trainings for workers and activists, and organizes the Sanctuary in the Streets network for immigrants’ rights.
  • Raise Up Massachusetts (RUM) - Raise up Massachusetts is a grassroots coalition of community organizations, religious groups, and labor unions committed to building an economy that works for all of us. RUM is focusing on passing legislation providing paid leave, a $15 minimum wage and the Fair Share Amendment.
  • Science for the People (SftP): Western Massachusetts - Science for the People is an organization dedicated to building a social movement around progressive and radical perspectives on science and society. SftP is STEM workers, educators, and activists who believe that science can be a positive force for humanity and the planet.
  • US Labor Against the War (USLAW) - USLAW is the organized voice within the labor movement fighting for peace and new priorities, to secure human needs and to demilitarize U.S. foreign policy.