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:]

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! When we fight together, we win together, and we have to fight together to get that win.

Join us Thursday.

Let’s push back.


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 … Continue reading “Register to Vote”


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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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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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: 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…

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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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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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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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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, October 8th and 9th: Voting! Tuesday, October 13th: Results will be announced. How do you register to vote?  As part of our new digital voting process, we are requiring that all GEO members who want to be involved to update their membership status by re-registering…

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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”


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”

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”


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”


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”

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