We’re happy to invite you to three events that we are holding with the GSA!

The Hypocrisy & Humor of the Student Loan Debt Crisis (Education in Equity Series)

On Wednesday evening, from 6:00pm-7:30pm, we’re holding the first in our Education in Equity series: join the important conversation with Dr. Venus Evans-Winters and our own Dr. Keith Jones, moderated by GEO’s Chidimma Ozor Commer! 

Register here: https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_m1TjmfGdTPC0Ghp82JAVMg

Dunkin’, Donuts, and Debt Relief


On Thursday, December 1, from 11:30am to 1:30pm, join a Student Loan Relief Q&A. Join us with the GSA on Campus Center 03-3115 to ask some questions, see if we’ve any answers, and swing by for snacks, warm drinks, and information. 

GEO-GSA Semester End Party


The final event: join us on Friday evening, from 6:00pm onward, at The Harp and Bard (located at 1099 Dorchester Ave, which is practically right next to the Savin Hill T Stop) for the semester-end party! Food, drinks, comrades, and conversation. We always throw a good event at the Harp: don’t miss out.

SIGNING YOUR DUES AUTHORIZATION CARD – AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT

You are all part of – and really, are the heart of – the Graduate Employee Organization, the labor union for graduate assistants at the school. The GEO is a union in all definitions of the word: we negotiate a collective bargaining agreement with the university, which then sets minimum pay and benefits for all GAs. Signing a dues authorization card is what makes the collective bargaining agreement possible: without dues, the university would be able to lower our pay, freeze (or reduce) our benefits, and worse.

If you would like an Organizing Committee member to come and discuss the content of this email to your department please email Jonathan Vega Martinez at jonathan.vegamart001@umb.edu to schedule a talk. We’d love to explain these developments and their importance to you and peers in a face to face setting!

While all GAs are in the union, the union asks all GAs to be dues-paying members by signing a dues authorization card. (Make sure to sign at the bottom left!) By becoming a dues-paying member of the union, you benefit and are eligible for:

– The minimum stipend for all GAs (and the raises we receive to that stipend every year)
– Representation in grievances
– The Student Health Insurance Benefit ($2750 in AY22-23)
– The tuition waiver, which is pro-rated to your assistantship hours
– Access to the Scholarly Support Fund (a $25,000 fund for travel and academic expenses, administered by the union)
– Access to the Emergency Support Fund (a $25,000 fund for unexpected financial hardship, administered by the union)
– You can run in Union Elections
– You can vote in Union Elections
– You can vote to ratify the contract in bargaining years

We strongly recommend that you sign a dues authorization card so we can keep these benefits! Every year, the university tries some new scheme to disenfranchise union members and the union – and every year, we have to find out a new way to push back against it.

By not being a dues-paying member of the union, you cannot run for or vote in union elections, nor can you vote to ratify the contract. This means that you cannot vote for or run for the organizing committee – the people who negotiate the contract – nor ratify and express approval or disapproval for the contract. Additionally, you may be charged a service fee should you require representation as part of a grievance. 

This is the Dues Authorization Form is also the FERPA waiver. Waiving your FERPA rights only applies to the union, and the entire purpose of it is to make it possible for the union to get in touch with you and your colleagues and help organize. We do not request your academic information like grades or GPA. Furthermore, signing the waiver does not allow some random person to walk in off the street and request your information. WE STRONGLY RECOMMEND YOU SIGN THE FERPA WAIVER.

The end of Fall semester is near – and Spring is just around the corner. Along with Spring will come BARGAINING – and that means we’ll be negotiating for our raises for the 2023 and onward contract year, as well as our benefits for those years, which will include the health insurance benefit.

Remember: THIS IS YOUR UNION. Without your involvement, we do not win at the negotiating table, and the university can claw back our benefits – don’t let them. Join the union, and show up during bargaining!

Solidarity,
The GEO Organizing Committee
Warren Hinckle

Fall 2022 Elections

Voting for the Fall 2022 elections to fill the sixth – and new – position in the GEO organizing committee will be held online on Tuesday, October 11 (opens at 8 am EST) and Wednesday, October 12 (closes at 11:59 pm EST).

Only pre-registered, dues-paying GEO members are eligible to vote in this election. Everyone should register for voting by Friday, October 7 at 11:59 pm EST. To register, fill out a new dues-authorization PDF and email it to geoumb.elections@gmail.com from your UMB email account. *If you are a new graduate student or have decided to join your graduate union and vote, you can vote as long as you register on or before October 7 at 11:59 pm EST.

Look at the fantastic graduate students running for this position (here)!

For more details, you can access the Fall 2022 Elections Guide here or by clicking the top right page on this website.

SSF Applications will open soon!

Applications for the Scholarly Support Fund (SSF) will be opening soon after the start of the Fall semester [September 12 at 8 am EST]. If you attended a Summer conference or plan to attend one in the Fall, you can start getting ready to apply for funding. You can also apply for non-conference-related expenses. Please see SSF guidelines here! Please reach out to geo@umb.edu if you have any questions.

The GEO

Labor and Power

Let’s talk about power and organizing. We can often spend a lot of time getting lost in a rush of actions and updates that happen while we’re here at UMass – while we’re dealing with the university time and time again and the updates can often feel depressing at times, because it’s an endless treadmill and a constant fight – well. We have to see what it is we are fighting for. We have to see what victory looks like.

And fortunately for us, we’ve got a few examples of that. 

Howard University faculty threatened a strike two weeks ago over low pay and bad conditions – and after threatening the strike, the university gave in. Howard’s faculty were given a raise to bring their non-tenure-track faculty up to pay parity with tenure-track faculty, as well as one that would guarantee longer term appointments so that faculty would not be working semester to semester.

Sound familiar? It’s the same way we’re appointed – or “non-reappointed” – every semester. It’s a way we’re fighting the university to ensure that graduate students get job security. And we can see that it’s something that we *can fight* and a fight that we can win – as long as we all fight. But what we have to offer about Howard’s situation is second-hand at best, and it’s best that you hear directly from people who were on the ground and fighting the good fight, one that’s been in the making for over a year now. 

It’s not just Howard’s non tenure-track faculty pushing on its employer. Across the country, Starbucks have been unionizing in a wave of ratification votes to push for better wages and rights – and Starbucks is terrified. We know Starbucks is scared because of how it is they’re responding. Rather than let the employers unionize and back off, or work in some way to increase benefits, the company is trying to fire employees for their union organizing – while claiming that it’s for violations. In the meantime, those employees are seeking to fight back against their retaliation… and while Starbucks resorts to failed terminations, the best they have to show for it is their anti-union website. Their anti-union website is hilariously bad. We won’t link it here, but it’s good for a laugh and a reminder that the people fighting us often rely – heavily – on money and institutional moment.

While Howard faculty are winning by threatening strike actions, and Starbucks are unionizing across the country, there’s another larger labor win – and it’s JFK8, one of the Amazon warehouses in Staten Island, which voted to unionize the other day. Amazon is pushing back in every way that they can, but the ALU is already beginning to move toward unionizing other warehouses in the area. This win is one that we should view as empowering and one that we can take strength from. An employee fired by the company for unionizing efforts leads an election and unionizes the first Amazon warehouse – and if Amazon employees can do that, then we can fight, too. [See ALU’s website here: https://www.amazonlaborunion.org/]

When we fight together, we win together.

Let’s fight together.

This Thursday, we’re holding our next action on campus. Join us at the union office between 945am and 1015am – and then join us as we march up to Quinn-03 to present our open letter to the Chancellor. If you haven’t yet, you can read the letter here – it’s arguing that we need more and better from the university. 

Sign the letter – and spread the word. Everyone and anyone can sign onto the letter, and the more, the better, so share this URL widely! https://forms.gle/mV9S3eiHmt987zKUA When we fight together, we win together, and we have to fight together to get that win.

Join us Thursday.

Let’s push back.

We’re happy to invite you to three events that we are holding with the GSA! The Hypocrisy & Humor of the Student Loan Debt Crisis (Education in Equity Series) On Wednesday evening, from 6:00pm-7:30pm, we’re holding the first in our Education in Equity series: join the important conversation with Dr. Venus Evans-Winters and our own Dr. … Continue reading “”

SIGNING YOUR DUES AUTHORIZATION CARD – AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT

You are all part of – and really, are the heart of – the Graduate Employee Organization, the labor union for graduate assistants at the school. The GEO is a union in all definitions of the word: we negotiate a collective bargaining agreement with the university, which then sets minimum pay and benefits for all … Continue reading “SIGNING YOUR DUES AUTHORIZATION CARD – AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT”

Fall 2022 Elections

Voting for the Fall 2022 elections to fill the sixth – and new – position in the GEO organizing committee will be held online on Tuesday, October 11 (opens at 8 am EST) and Wednesday, October 12 (closes at 11:59 pm EST). Only pre-registered, dues-paying GEO members are eligible to vote in this election. Everyone … Continue reading “Fall 2022 Elections”

Weekend Demonstration

This weekend is the Eastern Sociological Society – and they’re holding their conference at UMass Boston. We want to make sure the ESS knows who keeps UMass Boston running, and what they want from the university… but we need your help for it. We want you to show up on Saturday or Sunday in the … Continue reading “Weekend Demonstration”

Bargaining This Week

Bargaining is this week on Wednesday. Last session, Management came back to us with an offer – a 2.5% increase in salary for the 21-22 year, and 2.0% for 22-23 and 23-24 year, as well as a 190$ increase to the health insurance cap. We know they can do better. Join us this Wednesday, at … Continue reading “Bargaining This Week”

GEO Communication in Support of Faculty Council and Shared Governance

GEO believes that as a public research institution, the University of Massachusetts, Boston (UMB) should continue and extend its history of shared governance. In earlier iterations of this institution, the faculty’s role in governance was much larger than it is today. It was the faculty which made us a ‘research university with a teaching soul’. … Continue reading “GEO Communication in Support of Faculty Council and Shared Governance”

Bargaining – Feb 17 – IN-PERSON

GEO,Bargaining tomorrow will be in-person. Despite repeated asks over the last few weeks seeking confirmation on if this meeting would be over Zoom or in-person, the university only supplied us with confirmation for an in-person meeting earlier today. This deliberate tactic makes it more difficult for us to rally members like you to show up at bargaining sessions.It’s … Continue reading “Bargaining – Feb 17 – IN-PERSON”

Bargaining Update

We met with the university on February 1st: management is beginning to be less obstinate toward our demands for more information and more conversation. In the latest bargaining session, in which we had to break down to management in very basic terms why we needed to be discussing actual numbers with them for our proposals, … Continue reading “Bargaining Update”

Register to Vote

One of these two candidates will fill one position in the GEO Organizing Committee this semester. Check them out and prepare for voting. Register before it’s too late! The elections voting registration period ends on Friday, October 8 at 5 p.m. EST. Everyone needs to register prior to voting. To register, make sure to send a filled membership dues form from your UMB email to us at geoumb.elections@gmail.com. For more information on elections, click here.

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GEO ELECTIONS: SELF-NOMINATIONS

Nominations and registration for elections are open! Your union (the Graduate Employee Organization) is holding elections to fill one half-time (0.5 FTE) assistantship position on the Organizing Committee with an official start-work date of Monday, October 18. Similar to Fall 2020 elections, all graduate employees interested in voting should register prior to voting. You will find more information below.  The GEO Organizing Committee is composed of five Graduate Assistants at UMass Boston. We work collaboratively to advocate for graduate employee rights within the school and enrichment opportunities for graduate workers at UMass Boston. Some of the projects in which the…

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YOUR ASSISTANTSHIP TESTIMONIALS ARE REQUESTED

GEO has launched a new survey inviting you to share your experiences as a graduate assistant at UMass Boston. It feels important to say this: we know how hard the last few years have been and how painful a lot of the subjects in the survey are. Wages haven’t gone up, university officials have been a mix of dismissive and unresponsive, bargaining has been repeatedly delayed by the university – our goal, with this survey, is to strengthen our ability to present a unified front at the bargaining table and your testimonies are essential to that task. We know that…

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ELECTIONS COMING FALL 2021

Ara has completed her run as your elected representative and we thank her for her service and wish her luck! We will thus have one open spot on the organizing committee this coming fall 2021, and as always, are seeking a tenacious graduate student to come and join us to advocate for the rights of every graduate assistant at UMass Boston. If you’re interested, watch this space: we’ll be publishing the timeline and additional information shortly!

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FSU Events Next Week!

The Faculty Staff Union is holding two events next week – on Tuesday at 1030 and on Thursday at 2pm. The information for both is below, along with the links to register. Campus Forum on the Future of Healey Library – Tuesday, May 11th from 10:30 to 11:30Register here: https://umassboston.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJEsf-mvrzIpGNErB9KTPjqR1TCBl1S6gP47 How Do We Get UMass Boston the Library It Deserves? The campus unions (CSU, DCU, FSU, GEO, and PSU) as well as the (outgoing) President (Janrey Javier) and Vice President (Jaely Pererra) of Undergraduate Student Government are co-sponsoring a Forum on the future of the UMass Boston library on May…

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UAW Annual Civil Rights Dinner – Tomorrow!

Dear GEO,   Every year our affiliate union, the UAW, holds an Annual Civil Rights Dinner. You’re invited! Due to the pandemic, this year’s event will be virtual but no less exciting and meaningful because we are honoring Stacey Abrams! UAW International President Rory Gamble will be joining us as well as other International Executive Board members. And for the first time, the event will have Spanish language interpretation.   The event will be Thursday February 4th (that’s tomorrow!) at 7 p.m. To register, please click the link below. I’ve also attached 2 flyers – English and Spanish – so…

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The Spring 2021 round of SSF applications is opening soon!

Dear GEO Members, You still have time to prepare for applying for the Spring 2021 round of the Scholarly Support Fund (SSF). SSF applications will go live on Thursday, February 11 (8 am) {{here}}, and close on Friday, February 12th (11:59 pm). SSF will keep running on a first-come-first-serve basis. If you make it to the finalists, you can get up to $200 reimbursed in qualifying expenses (See item 2.2 of FAQ). We recommend checking out the SSF Checklist to prepare for applying and the SSF FAQ for more in-depth information about SSF. Don’t hesitate to contact us at geo@umb.edu…

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URGENT UPDATE // TENTATIVE AGREEMENT AND RATIFICATION

EDIT: Our ratification date is WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 7TH, AT 4PM! The Zoom link is the same. GEO, After nearly a year of struggling, negotiations, roadblocks, and setbacks, we’ve come to a tentative agreement with the university over a one-year extension on the Collective Bargaining Agreement! Our bargaining ratification vote is THURSDAY, OCTOBER 8TH, AT 4PM. The Zoom link is here. Don’t miss out: this is important. We’ve been able to secure a huge win for members: at a point in time the university told us repeatedly they would be unable to provide any increases or benefits during the pandemic, we…

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MEMBERSHIP MEETINGS // 9.23 AND 9.28

We have two membership meetings coming up!  Our first meeting is focused: recently we’ve been hearing a lot of complaints about parking for the GAs who are still working on campus. If you’re an on-site Graduate Assistant, we have three asks for you: Email us your complaints! The more, the better: every email, every voice, and every word we have gives us stronger ground to stand on when we push management to make this a better process for our members. Join us today at 6.00pm EST! We’re having a meeting specifically centered around parking at 6:00pm today: the Zoom link…

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UPDATE // AMALGATED LOCAL 1596 NOMINATIONS

NOTE: This is for our Local UAW 1596 elections, not for the GEO-specific elections. For information on the UMass Boston GEO elections, click here. TO ALL MEMBERS: This is the official Call to all members who desire to be a candidate for any one (1) of the ten (10) Local Union Executive Offices. PRESIDENT EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT VICE PRESIDENT FINANCIAL SECRETARY-TREASURER RECORDING SECRETARY THREE (3) TRUSTEES GUIDE SERGEANT-AT-ARMS Rules & Regulations Eligibility:  All members in continual good standing for a period of one (1) year as of 10/2/20 will be eligible for election to any one (1) executive office. All…

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UPDATE // FALL 2020 ELECTION NOMINEES AND VOTER REGISTRATION

We are happy to announce that we have our nominees! You can download a .pdf here that has their pictures, programs, short-bios, and campaign blurbs. The dates for the rest of the election cycle are below! Wednesday, September 23rd: Campaign period begins! Wednesday, October 7th: Voting registration ends at 5:00 p.m. EST. Thursday and Friday, … Continue reading “UPDATE // FALL 2020 ELECTION NOMINEES AND VOTER REGISTRATION”

UPDATE // HEALTH AND SAFETY COALITION BARGAINING

In coalition with the Classified Staff Union, Faculty Staff Union, Professional Staff Union, and Departmental Chairs Union, GEO has been working tirelessly to pull together a document on the general health and safety measures occurring on campus – making sure that employees and the entire campus community is kept healthy as more classes and research … Continue reading “UPDATE // HEALTH AND SAFETY COALITION BARGAINING”

UPDATE // GEO BARGAINING // IMPACT AND MAIN-TABLE

Officially our last Collective Bargaining Agreement with the University ended this summer, which means we are still living in the old world. Going has been slow as COVID and the change of University leadership has caused delays to bargaining. As significant uncertainty exists around the budget and longer-term implications of the pandemic; we are currently … Continue reading “UPDATE // GEO BARGAINING // IMPACT AND MAIN-TABLE”

ANNOUNCEMENT // FALL ELECTIONS 2020

If you are interested in running for a position in our organizing committee, this is great news! We want to announce that we will run elections for two open positions (0.50 FTE) for the GEO Organizing Committee this Fall 2020. We have adapted the election process to take an online format. Elections will take place early in the semester for a quick start of said appointments. A 0.50 FTE appointment with the GEO could complement your 0.25, 0.50, 0.75, or 1.00 assistantship(s)! You can run for our organizing committee as long as you are a dues-paying graduate worker – a … Continue reading “ANNOUNCEMENT // FALL ELECTIONS 2020”

Brief Pre-Fall Update

Hi GEO,The new semester is almost upon us. We’re delivering just a few quick updates before we hunker back down into Fall prep. Parking: We know at some point for Fall semester the university is going to resume collecting parking fees; that said, specific information hasn’t yet come out, though it should be coming out from the university relatively soon. It is important to note that we signed an impact bargaining agreement in Spring that says the university must give two weeks of notice before resuming parking fee collection from GEO members. Health and Safety (H&S) Bargaining: we’re in coalition … Continue reading “Brief Pre-Fall Update”

INFORMATION // THE SCHOLARLY SUPPORT FUND

We are working to update the SSF to reflect the realities of academia during the lockdown. Our goal is to release a full set of details in our next communication and have the application process start on the first day of classes. At the moment, we’re ironing out some final details about what eligible expenses are and how to verify that you need reimbursement.  Our goal is to shift the SSF from being a travel fund to being a general academic support initiative, which is a pretty major change. Stay tuned to our website for updates.  If we have to … Continue reading “INFORMATION // THE SCHOLARLY SUPPORT FUND”

GSA Announces Spayne and Bollinger grants!

You may know about the GSA – the Graduate Student Government – and what they’re up to, and you may have applied to SSF earlier this semester. We’ve got good news.

First thing’s first: the GSA is announcing the opening of both the Dr. Robert. W Spayne and Craig R. Bollinger spring 2022 research grants! 

The Spayne Research Grant (which is for work leading to a master’s thesis or a capstone project) is a competitive grant awarded to assist students in defraying research expenses. The numbers vary, and it can reward up to $1500 each Fall and Spring semester! The grant is to support registered masters students and not en route doctoral students. 

The Bollinger Doctoral Thesis Grant is for work leading to a doctoral dissertation or doctoral-level capstone project – similar to the Spayne grant, it is meant to defray the costs of research, and while the number of grants vary, it can reward up to $1500 each Fall and Spring semester. Candidates who have already defended their proposals and received IRB approval are welcome to apply!
To apply for either grant, https://umb.campuslabs.com/engage/ using your email (not @umb.edu; just your email) and your email password. Once logged in, click on “Organizations” and search for Graduate Student Assembly. From the GSA home page, click the join button, then on forms, and then select the Spayne or Bollinger application form as applicable. More detailed instructions can be found there.

Labor and Power

Let’s talk about power and organizing. We can often spend a lot of time getting lost in a rush of actions and updates that happen while we’re here at UMass – while we’re dealing with the university time and time again and the updates can often feel depressing at times, because it’s an endless treadmill and a constant fight – well. We have to see what it is we are fighting for. We have to see what victory looks like. And fortunately for us, we’ve got a few examples of that.  Howard University faculty threatened a strike two weeks ago … Continue reading “Labor and Power”

UPDATE // FALL ELECTIONS AND ONLINE VOTING

We will be holding elections for two half time (9 hours a week) positions this semester! In a departure from the old world, we’ll be holding these elections entirely online!  We’re still finalizing the process and ironing out the details, but keep your eyes open. Once we get everything figured out and ready, we’ll roll out the process.  We want to ensure a two week period for candidates to self-nominate, another two weeks for campaigning, a week for voting, and then the big announcement of results. We’re not sure yet what we’re going to do in lieu of our traditional … Continue reading “UPDATE // FALL ELECTIONS AND ONLINE VOTING”

ACTION // GEO AND SOCIAL JUSTICE ON CAMPUS

GEO wants to offer what help and resources we can for social justice advocacy groups on campus–and we want to get in touch with all of you. Shoot us an email at geo@umb.edu if you’re doing this kind of work already, and let’s see what we can’t do to bolster one another and work together. 

UPDATE // H&S COALITION BARGAINING

GEO is working with the UMass Boston Union coalition to work on health-and-safety reopening guidelines that include masks, air quality, the number of people allowed in a room, and more–we’ve submitted proposals to management, and are presently waiting for them to get back to us with dates for meeting. Once we meet, we’ll get you an update on exactly how things are looking and where things have settled. The union coalition group has met this week; we’re meeting with management on the 31st, and will get you an update shortly after that. Additionally, we are seeking meetings with management over…

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UPDATE // FALL IMPACT BARGAINING

As the official union for Graduate Employees, we have a right to negotiate the impacts of policy decisions made between main bargaining periods. With so many policy changes resulting from responses to the COVID pandemic, we have been in near constant negotiations with University Administration since February.   We are currently meeting with management around impacts occurring during the fall semester.  Some of the things we are discussing include greater support and protections for international students, clarity on the Massachusetts quarantine, ensuring health and safety protection for people who have to come to campus, monitoring class sizes and work-loads are not…

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UPDATE // CONTRACT BARGAINING

Over the last few months, GEO and management have solidified ground-rules and begun the process of main-table bargaining. Management originally proposed a one-year extension of the contract with no change, which we turned down, as we could not see the rationale for it; later, however, we thought that a one-year extension would be good for membership if, and only if, it included a much higher health insurance waiver. We are waiting to hear back on management of this offer; it has been working its way through different offices since we first brought it up, and we have taken the extra…

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Thursday – Bargaining, Action, Social!

GEO,

This Thursday we need you to show up! It is a day packed with collective action, bargaining, and some after-bargaining fun! You can join for any or all of it. We have to present a strong and unified front to finally get management to offer us a contract that substantially improves the lives of grad employees.

… and we are also LONG overdue to have some time together.
 

  • Between 09:45am and 10:15am, join us in the Union Office (Quinn-02-081) to prepare for our rally on Quinn’s third floor!
  • From 10:15am to 10:45am, we’ll be at Quinn-03 to hold our action and rally – where we’ll push our open letter to the powers that be and demand the university treat us right!
  • You can read the open letter here,
  • And sign it here! ANYONE CAN SIGN: share it widely.
  • At 10:45am we’ll head over to CC2115 – where we’ll be in bargaining with management until 1pm! The conference room has a big, wall-length window that management always conveniently sits right across from. To have all of our membership staring them down makes our demands real in a way nothing else can. .
  • You can show up at any time, but we need you there!
  • Bargaining ends at 1pm – and we plan to meet at the Harp and Bard from 2pm to 5pm to take a breather, pat ourselves on the back, and socialize. Come join all of us at the Harp (1099 Dorchester Avenue, about 15 minutes from campus) for an afternoon of lunch, company, and solidarity!


If you have any dietary restrictions or needs, email us to let us know!

See you Thursday!

Public College Should Not be a Debt Sentence!

Take Action to Win Debt-Free College in Mass.

THIS THURSAY 3/24

You might have heard the news that this week New Mexico became the 31st state to offer some kind of statewide debt-free college. We need your help to win that in Massachusetts!

PHENOM (Public Higher Ed Network of Massachusetts) and other groups need our help to advance a debt-free college bill in our state legislature. If it doesn’t move out of committee to a floor vote, this bill will die and will have to be restarted in the next legislative session. S829/H1339, An Act to Guarantee Debt-Free Public Higher Education,” would guarantee every Massachusetts resident has a right to a public higher education free of tuition, fees, and student debt and covers all MA public higher ed institutions, including UMB.

This legislation will create a grant program to cover tuition and fees for all MA residents to attend any MA public college, university, or certificate, vocational or training program. It will also cover additional costs of attendance (housing, transportation, books, etc.) for low income students. These funds will NOT affect eligibility for other financial aid.

Will you make 2 phone calls on Thurs. 3/24 to help win Debt-Free College in MA?

Any time between 9am and 5pm on Thursday 3/24 [tomorrow!], please call the Chairs of the Joint Committee on Higher Education and ask them to positively report out S829/H1339 “An Act to Guarantee Debt-Free Public Higher Education,” before the April 4th deadline. This will bring the bill to the House and Senate floors for a vote. Otherwise, the bill will die, and PHENOM will have to start over during the next State House session. Note that both these Chairs are big supporters of public higher education.

The Senate Committee Chair is Senator Anne M. Gobi of Central Mass. Her phone number is: 617-722-1540

The House Committee Chair is Representative David Rogers of Cambridge. His phone number is: (617) 722-2263

Some Talking Points:

  • When you call Senator Gobi’s and Rep. Roger’s offices, please give them your name and your UMass Boston affiliation (staff, student, alum, faculty, etc.).
  • The ask: you are calling to ask the Chair to please positively report out S829/H1339 “An Act to Guarantee Debt-Free Public Higher Education,” before the April 4th deadline.
  • Please also tell the Chairs why this legislation matters to you.

Some ideas on why passing S829/H1339 matters to so many people in Massachusetts:

  • I believe that access to debt-free, high-quality public higher education should be the right of every Massachusetts resident.
  • Cuts in state funding for public colleges are making it impossible for students and families to afford college. These cuts are now driving Massachusetts public college tuition and fees up faster than any other state in the country. 
  • Many students and their families are burdened by debilitating debt that severely limits their future opportunities.
  • The average student debt in Massachusetts is $37,172 growing.
  • Student debt affects most heavily Black, Latinx, other people of color, low-income and first generation students, who are the majority of our UMass Boston undergraduate students.
  • Massachusetts has the 10th highest student debt burden in the country and the sixth lowest public college budget.
  • 31 other state legislatures have passed some kind of debt-free college legislation. Our state legislature should join them!
  • YOUR THOUGHTS AND EXPERIENCES. . .

Please let us know what you hear from on your calls or hear back from the Committee Chairs. Share that information with our UMB PHENOM Organizer, Izabel.Depina001@umb.edu.

HVAC Presentation and Report

The Massachusetts Teacher Association commissioned a third party to do an airflow evaluation of Wheatley – we now have the reports, and they are not good. Sixty percent of the rooms in Wheatley do not achieve the recommended number of air exchanges per hour. 

Read the report here. On Friday, join us from 12pm to 1pm as the researchers present their findings directly. You can do so by clicking into this Zoom link at that time.

https://umassboston.zoom.us/j/91336634626

Dorchester Bay City Petition

Please help us get a better Dorchester Bay City Proposal by signing and sharing this petition to Mayor Wu and the Boston Planning and Development Authority to Slow Down Approval.

The current proposal for “Dorchester Bay City” is far too big, far too brash, and needs to be slowed down!  We hope the new Mayor will recognize this need – but we need to urge her to do so.

Please support important changes to Dorchester Bay City (DBC) development and the timeline for approving it. You have heard several times this year from our Administration about Accordia Partners’ plan to build Dorchester Bay City—a project as large as three Empire State Buildings–on waterfront land leased from UMass Boston at the former Bayside Expo Center, with some adjoining land. The UMB Administration has actively supported this project, which will generate up to $235 million in future revenue for the campus, as it has moved through the City’s development review process.  

At the same time, many UMB staff, faculty and students strongly oppose the DBC project’s process to date and its current form. We believe that our campus has a moral responsibility as the largest “anchor institution” in the community and the major financial beneficiary of this development to push the developers to do better (at the very least, a scaled down version with decent affordable housing). Many members of the broader Dorchester community also oppose the current plan because of the significant economic and climate risks it will bring for the community and the fact that to date many of the most at-risk members of the community have not been sufficiently included in the process.

Make Your Voice Heard! What You Can Do to Help Us Get a Better DBC Proposal 

We encourage you to sign the petition linked below that was created by our community partner coalition, DotNot4Sale. It calls on Mayor Michelle Wu and the Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) to institute a six month slow-down of the project approval process, which will help us to get real community feedback, as well as more commitments around affordability, good jobs, and community benefits.

The petition link is https://bit.ly/DBCPetition

Please also share this petition with others who can help us reach the Mayor and the BPDA. We need this time to get real commitments from the developer and to make sure residents most impacted by displacement are at the table. Let’s win real affordability, actions against displacement, jobs access, climate resiliency, and racial justice!