Hello to all GEO members!
We had a really great first All Member meeting on September 18th to kick off this semester.
We introduced our core organizing and focus for the 2019-2020 year: Health and Welfare, discussed how better to get members involved in the union, and began to talk about what it is going to take for us to win our demands at the bargaining table this year.
Please find the slides from the presentation here!
Below you’ll find our notes and takeaways from the meeting, i.e., what we are hearing from you all and what we plan on doing about it. We want every member to get the chance to see what their has in store for the new academic year!
Health and Welfare Campaign Launch and Discussion
We pay too much for healthcare, period. The blindsiding we all experienced this summer with the almost four hundred dollar increase in our premiums is but the latest example. At the meeting, we circulated our petition (please sign if you have not already!) and spoke generally about the need to reign in the increasing cost of our healthcare.
Additionally, we spoke about the different areas where we see possibilities to build on the benefits we already have and other benefits that we’d like to have. These include,but are not limited to: better mental health access for all students on campus, an equitable solution for those students who are parents in light of losing our on-campus daycare center, and the possibility of winning Paid Family Medical Leave (PFML) for GEO members who are new parents.
In our discussion, we heard from members in Clinical Psychology who’ve been asked to get their own therapists on their own dime. Members raised issues with both the Vision and Dental process and cost, and another shared their story about the difficulty of affording a simple x-ray for their injured arm. While some of these issues are new, many are things we, as graduate workers and GEO organizing members, are acutely aware of and understand to be immediate
Long story short, the message was clear: a focus on health and wellness in our organizing work this year is not only a crucial concern for all of our members, but that the time is now to work through these issues and successfully organize to win the benefits we deserve as members and workers on UMass Boston’s Campus
Member Engagement and Organizing
We heard from multiple members that, especially for international students, there is a lack of basic understanding of what the GEO actually does for its members. Despite GEO’s presence at graduate orientations (both campus-wide and program specific), we know that for many graduate workers this may be the last time they are in a room with GEO reps and other graduate assistants outside their department. Additionally, there was a fruitful discussion around the use of social media and how best we can engage with members online.
As a direct response to these questions, we’ve begun work on a short member handbook that we can use as a tool in discussions around what GEO does and how best to get involved. We hope to get this out both digitally and in print within the month!
We had a great conversation around exactly how we, as graduate students and workers, can leverage our power as we enter the bargaining stage for our new contract this January. It is a conversation that we will return to this semester at every one of our meetings and interactions with members.
That being said, if you are interested in getting involved and learning more about bargaining in general, we are calling on volunteers to join our Bargaining Committee! There will be more information to come, but know that this year we hope to have members from all over campus come to the table with the university to show just how much power we have.
As always, if you want to get involved or have ideas for GEO, the best way to do so is to become a Program Representative. If you do not know who your program representative is, ask! It probably means you’re department needs one. Program reps meet once a month to discuss how best they can involve all members of their program in the work of the union. It is a great way to meet other graduate students across the campus.
We will hold our next All Member meeting in mid-October, as well as continue to send out information through the Graduate Advocate newsletter and on our social media pages.
Please reach out to as at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to learn more. And, as always, follow us on Facebook for up to date info on actions, events, and, last but not least, the Fall Semester Kickoff Party on October.