Author: geoumassboston

GEO Monthly Review

GEO Monthly Review

Hello members! 
We wanted to reach out and let everyone know what we’ve been up to over the past month!

New Organizing Committee Members Elected

    GEO welcomed two new members to our organizing committee: Arazeliz Reyes and Julie LaBagnara! They have both hit the ground running and are already deep into the work of the organizing committee. Stop by our office to say hi!

October All Member Meeting – Bargaining Discussion

    In late October, we held a small but mighty all member meeting during which we discussed the history of bargaining at UMB, the bargaining process, and the schedule for our next contract bargaining session beginning in the Spring. Find the slides here!

    The discussion quickly focused on how we win the demands of our members in the newest contract. Everyone understood that the strength of our bargaining position is tied directly to how many members of our unit come out and support the process. We want every single member to feel ownership over the contract process. We discussed strategies to mobilize membership, and the program rep meetings that occurred the next week focused on the specific strategies of mobilizing and informing members on the level of each and every department on our campus. 

Chancellor Newman Townhall – Find the Video Below!

    On Oct. 23rd, Chancellor Newman held a townhall in which she gave an overview of the University’s budget and financial situation. Fortunately, through the hard work of the SaveUMB coalition and our union brothers and sisters in the PSU and CSU, the Chancellor was pressured to give the majority of the time in the meeting to an open question and answer session from the wider UMB community. During this session, we heard from many different people from all over campus give their testimony on the impact of the cuts and layoffs on their experience as employees and students. 

    This townhall was extremely well attended and showed how angry and upset many different people on this campus are over the manner in which our debt crisis has been handled and who the administration has chosen to lay the burden of it on. Going forward, it represents yet another example of how eager and desperate people are on this campus to change the trajectory of austerity and privatization and turn the environment and ethos here at UMB back towards its original mission: to serve the underserved, provide an affordable, quality to education to as many people as posisble, and treat its employees as vital to that mission. 

Grievances

    We are always working with members on individual issues that come up in their departments and programs. Weekly, we meet with members to discuss what has happened, what rights they have, and how we can help solve the solution. We wanted to use this space as a reminder to please come to us whenever you think something seems off or wrong about what you are being asked to do, questions over your working relationships, or 

Coalition of Graduate Employee Unions – New England

    Finally, on November 8th, we hosted a very fruitful meeting on campus with other graduate unions from across campus. Representatives from UMass Amherst and Lowell, the Jewish Labor Council, Northeaster, University of Rhode Island, and UConn, as well as other labor supporters, came together to share resources, discuss strategies, and brainstorm ways we can work together to build better working conditions for all graduate students and workers in our region. 

    Please be on the lookout for more information coming out about our work with this group, including the organizing of a GEO contingent from UMB to travel to Harvard in early December to give solidarity and provide support to grad workers there who are preparing to go on strike against a university that refuses to bargain in good faith with them. 

UMass Boston Townhall Video

We know some of you were asking about a recording of the Townhall–and we’ve got one. The link is here: https://youtu.be/PzEEUE2rKY0

The second hour of the video is the campus community speaking up and giving testimony of what all the cuts and hikes have meant for us on the ground–students, staff, and faculty. Some of the stories are moving, and it demonstrates how important it is for us to fight hard in Spring to win during bargaining and get improvements for our workers on campus.

We’ll be preparing a fullsome report back to go out to membership soon.

If you’re interested in getting involved–email us at geo@umb.edu. There are a lot of opportunities to help, and we’d love to have you on board.

#organizing #labor #umassboston #graduatestudents #umass #townhall #enoughisenough #union #stories #transparency

GSA-GEO FALL SOCIAL

Hi everyone! We’re happy to announce that this Wednesday, October 16th, at 7pm, we’ll be holding this year’s first party! In collaboration with the GSA, we’ve set up a party–we’ll be celebrating the two new members of the GEO Organizing Committee, as well as the GSA 2019 Board!

Show up if you can! The event is at the Harp and Bard Pub in Dorchester; it’s located on 1099 Dorchester Avenue, right off of Savin Hill Avenue. If you need to get there, you can either walk to Dorchester Avenue from JFK/UMass and then down Dot ave (it’s a 10-15 minute walk), or leave from the Savin Hill T and walk down Savin Hill Avenue (it’s maybe a 5 minute walk).

We’ll see you there!

All Member Report Back!

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! 

Bargaining 

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. 

Getting Involved

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 geo@umb.edu 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.

Candidacy Announcement!

Hello GEO,

We’re happy and proud to announce our candidates for this year’s election. We have two spots on the organizing committee, and six people have nominated themselves to run–it’s looking like it’s going to be a great election season.

If you want to view the list of candidates, view the file here. We’re also going to have 3 copies in the office at all times.

Voting will occur October 7th through October 10th in the GEO office in Quinn-02-081. Voting will be open to all dues-paying members between 10am and 7pm. We will have ballots and authorization forms in the office if needed, as well as the copies of the candidate list.

Additionally! We will be throwing our joint GEO-GSA Fall Party on October 16th, 7pm, at the Harp and Bard in Dorchester. While there, we’ll celebrate the semester as it’s gone so far, celebrate solidarity, and celebrate those who ran in and those who won the elections.

Happy campaigning.

Health Insurance, Information Sessions, and a Summer BBQ

The Graduate Advocate, July 1st

In case you haven’t yet heard the news…

The overall cost for the Student Health Insurance Plan is going up approximately $400 in Fall—from $2180 up to $2540. Additionally, for Graduate Employee–the University covers a percentage of our health insurance premium… but how much they cover is hard-capped at a $ amount. Every dollar of this hike is over that cap. The University is not paying a cent more… the raised charge falls completely on our shoulders. Full-time Graduate Assistants used to pay $400.

Next year, we will be paying nearly $800. For many students, that new $400 charge could go to one person’s groceries for more than eight weeks. How did something like this happen? How did it happen with so little warning? There are a lot of questions. We might have some answers for you.

On Tuesday, July 16th, at 4.00pm, in ISC 4300, the GEO is hosting an information and question session. Come join us with any and all concerns you might have.

For many students, that $400 Health Insurance charge is the price of groceries for one person for more than eight weeks.

On Tuesday, July 16th, at 4.00pm, in ISC 4300, the GEO is hosting an information and question session for graduate assistants to attend with any and all questions they might have. We’ll review the contract, your rights as a Graduate Employee on this campus, and discuss the upcoming bargaining session. But the upcost of the Health Insurance Premium has sparked this meeting… so bring any question or concern you have. We’ll see what we can do.

Afterward, we’ll be holding a BBQ at the Fox Point Pavilion to round off the evening and survive the leftover heat.

RSVP: Visit our Google Form here, or visit our Facebook Event here.

Come join us on the 16th. If you can’t make the information session at 4pm, come to the barbecue between 6 and 8. We’re happy to answer questions between bites.

The Graduate Advocate

Winter Semester And Office Hours

Hi everyone!

This post is a quick update to keep you informed as to GEO’s availability over winter semester. While we will not be regularly in the office, we are always happy to meet; if you need us for anything, please, email us at geo@umb.edu. We can come in to meet you, discuss things over the phone, or by email.

Regular office hours will resume and be posted as we approach Spring Semester.

To all of you from us at the Organizing Committee; have a happy new year, merry tidings, and, to whatever holy days you may observe – whether you’ve already observed them, are observing now, or have yet to do so – we wish you the best of celebrations.

Best wishes,

The GEO Organizing Committee