CAPS Update

CAPS courses–courses run by the College of Advancing and Professional Studies–have long been a source of confusion and frustration. If you’ve ever taken a course online, over the weekend, or not during the normal Fall or Spring semesters, you’ve probably been in a CAPS course–and been confused about the costs and how it interacts with your tuition waivers.

CAPS had its own policy for waivers that UMass used to try to bypass our collective bargaining agreement. Instead of applying normal tuition waivers, CAPS policy was to only give full-time employees a 50% waiver; all others received a 25% waiver.

But now, finally, CAPS will use the normal graduate assistant tuition waivers! GEO has been in meetings with management since 2015 to normalize this process. Back in March of this year we finally had enough and threatened to take the school to arbitration court. After a long fight, the University finally recognized that tuition is tuition! We’ve won!

For any CAPS course that is part of your degree, and has no on-campus alternative that the student could take, the waiver will now look like the normal tuition waiver.

Graduate assistants can now expect to see those CAPS tuition fees waived at the same percentage as any other course. CAPS courses do have a different price, so if you have questions, come see us for more information–but no matter what your FTE status, CAPS courses have become cheaper under the current system than they’ve been in the past. A lot of members in the GEO bargaining unit will benefit from this immediately and in the future. 

The agreement we worked out with the university only applies for courses that occur during the regular Fall and Spring semesters; we’ll be going back to the table and trying to negotiate an even stronger deal come bargaining. We’ll need your support! 

If you have any questions about this–or aren’t sure if you’re one of the students, get in touch with us! And if you have any other questions, email us at 

Thanks so much for your support!

All-Member Meeting

Our All-Member Meeting is this Tuesday! And we’re switching it up a bit. Instead of our regular afternoon meeting, we’re going to be holding it in the morning! Campus Center room 3450 at 9am–even if you can’t come, swing by! Grab some coffee and a donut on us before you head off to class and work.

We’re going to be meeting for about an hour in the morning to discuss bargaining and the bargaining survey [see here!] We want everyone to feel like they have a solid grasp on the basics of bargaining as we head into the cycle in Spring; it’s an important part of our benefits, wages, and waivers as graduate assistants here at UMass Boston.

As part of the all-member meeting, we’ll discuss the bargaining survey. The bargaining survey went out TODAY, and we need as many people as possible to complete it. The bargaining survey will inform us as we craft our bargaining platform, which we’ll use to shape our decisions as we move into bargaining. In spring, we’ll have a ratification process occur to get the bargaining platform signed by as many GEO members as possible, so we can come to the table with the university with the full backing of our membership!

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Bargaining Survey


Every three years we enter into a series of negotiations with the university that cover graduate assistant pay, waivers, and benefits–each cycle, we fight hard at the table to come to an agreement that better supports graduate assistants at UMass Boston, and each cycle, the fight is difficult. Last round, we entered bargaining with a university intent on cutting around 400k in benefits to Graduate Assistants–we walked away from the table fifteen months later… with an increase of support of approximately 3.5 million.

Bargaining is a long process, but it’s one of the most important ones in which the union engages. When we stand together and fight together, we can win at the table.

And the first step of bargaining is the Bargaining Survey. The survey is a series of questions about your experience as an employee at UMass Boston: it is a comprehensive survey meant to give us feedback about what matters most to you. When you fill out the bargaining survey, you give the Bargaining Committee–a group of volunteers and Organizing Committee Members–a solid basis on which to develop the Bargaining Platform. Check the QR code here:

If you have any additional questions about the bargaining survey, email us at !

Harvard Strike Solidarity

Back in October, the Harvard Graduate Student Union–the HGSU-UAW–held a vote to authorize a strike if Harvard did not come to the bargaining table to guarantee fair wages, comprehensive health coverage, and protection against discrimination and sexual harassment. They went through with the authorization and set the strike deadline for December 3rd. If Harvard refused to offer better pay, better health insurance, and better language for harassment and discrimination, the Harvard Graduate Student Union would go on strike on that day. December 3rd. 1030am.

We’re at the deadline. Starting tomorrow HGSU is going on strike–and we’re going to go stand in solidarity. The things the HGSU are fighting for are the same things we’re fighting for: fair wages, better health insurance coverage, better protections, and better treatment! If Harvard strikes in full force, it’ll send a shock through Boston’s university and remind every academic institution that graduate workers are employees, that they demand respect, and that, in one of the richest cities in the world, in one of the richest states in the world, they demand fair compensation

An injury to one is an injury to all. Join us. We’re going to head over after our All-Member-Meeting as a group, although if you want to go straight to the strike area, head up to Harvard. The Facebook Information is here:

If you have any questions, or want to join up but can’t attend the All-Member Meeting in the morning, email

Weather alert? For updates on these events, follow us at:
Facebook: /GEOUMB
Twitter: @geo_umass

UMass Boston Townhall

There’s a lot happening this week, and it’s going to take work to make sure nothing falls through the cracks. While the Harvard Strike starts at 1030am, and the bargaining survey has gone out, and our All-Member-Meeting happens in the morning… that’s not all.

December 3rd, 2pm–tomorrow–the Chancellor is holding another Town Hall. This one is centered around student success; to that end, the information displayed will be based around the metrics and data the university has received to student success. Over the last couple of years, UMass Boston has become stronger at tracking these numbers and at trying to measure it, but there’s still more work to do.

Show up, not only to get what might be valuable information on how the university treats and views student success, but also to get a chance to say what you think student success might look like: fair pay for work, reliable work, fair health insurance costs that don’t come with unexpected price hikes, and leaves! 

If you have any questions, or want to join up, email 

Weather alert? For updates on these events, follow us at:
Facebook: /GEOUMB
Twitter: @geo_umass