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.

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”

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 … Continue reading “GEO ELECTIONS: SELF-NOMINATIONS”

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, 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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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 begin to make their way back to campus. We are entering into our next bargaining session with the university tomorrow, and negotiating an enforceable document with the university so that those who come on campus are kept healthy and safe.

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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 looking at options around a one year extension to buy everyone some time. This delay in bargaining is an approach other unions on campus are using as well.   For us in GEO, we are unwilling to let the university buy time for free! We are…

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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…

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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 … Continue reading “Brief Pre-Fall Update”

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. 

INFORMATION // GEO AND THE ACTF

GEO has had representation on the Academic Continuity Task Force, established by the Provost earlier this summer, and has been fighting hard to make sure that the slight re-opening of campus goes without a hitch–and working hard at the social justice aspect of it as well. At the moment, we’re hoping to make social justice and anti-racism resources available for graduate students and student-facing employees. 

INFORMATION // HEALTH INSURANCE AND TUITION WAIVERS

As many returning students know, but new students are learning, it can take the University until the end of October to process waivers for tuition and health insurance. This makes it very hard for us to know what our account balance is at the Bursar’s office. We suggest making a small good faith deposit and then waiting to find out what your full balance is instead of paying what appears to be owing in September. A deposit is usually enough to have the school waive late fees, though we can assist if they do apply any to your account. Check … Continue reading “INFORMATION // HEALTH INSURANCE AND TUITION WAIVERS”

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 // INTERNATIONAL STUDENT INFORMATION

The highly restrictive ICE memo that circulated on July 6th has been rescinded, but the University has been slow to put plans in place to fully support international students. The situation is better for continuing students who were enrolled and working before the pandemic, but yet there are still challenges created by university policies that make things more difficult for these international students. Having a work assignment is incredibly valuable for graduate students; to study in the US you need to show you have the ability to pay for school. For most foreign grad students, this means having a stipend, … Continue reading “UPDATE // INTERNATIONAL STUDENT INFORMATION”

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 … Continue reading “UPDATE // H&S COALITION BARGAINING”

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 … Continue reading “UPDATE // FALL IMPACT BARGAINING”

INFORMATION // FALL RESOURCES

If you’re coming to Boston for the first time, going to be working on campus, or you even just need some guidance on what to do–considering how chaotic everything is and how little everyone knows–you might be looking around for a lifeline. This will help. UMB Covid Page (https://www.umb.edu/coronavirus) University Resources Home Page (https://www.umb.edu/resources4u) Hyperlink … Continue reading “INFORMATION // FALL RESOURCES”

ACTION // CALL FOR INTERNATIONAL STORIES + STATEHOUSE RALLY ON MONDAY // URGENT

Hi GEO, The recent horrific ICE decision, followed with a recent executive order by Trump, is something that we have to fight. To that end, we have two actions organized by UAW. First: we’re joining AFT, SEIU, and CWA in supplying supporting documents to the Harvard/MIT lawsuit opposing the recent Trump Admin/ICE attacks on international students and workers. To that end, if you are an international student: please send in your story as an academic worker through this link.The deadline is 6pm today. If you have trouble clicking the hyperlink, you can copy and paste the url here: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSdgEVbOdZEXZxPwlU86V6D5SuJBep1-U3Zvcdl2_bnZ34yEHQ/viewform Some of the questions…

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ACTION // JOIN THE CARAVAN TODAY

JOIN THE CARAVAN: Wednesday, June 17th @ 11 am!  Be part of a state-wide action to send a message to Marty Meehan and the UMass Board of Trustees: Save, Protect and Fund UMass students and workers! Drivers will gather at the Boston Teachers Union parking lot (180 Mt Vernon St.) at 11 am, and walkers will gather at 1 Beacon St. in Boston at 11:30 am. IF YOU ARE STUCK AT HOME/CAN’T JOIN, YOU CAN STILL TAKE ACTION TO HELP US GET THE MESSAGE TO UMASS PRESIDENT MEEHAN AND THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES!  Choose from the action options below: Livestream the Rally…

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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!

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, they began to come around to the idea.

Shortly after the meeting, we received a request to share our fiscal proposals so they could “catch up”. Fiscal proposals we submitted March 2021.

The fight continues – and we need you to join us!

Our next bargaining session is Thursday, February 17th, at 930am. We are as of yet unsure if this meeting will be in-person, or over Zoom: management seems reluctant to meet in-person due to COVID, which makes us wonder why the university is still operating on campus. 

To that end, we have two asks for you today.

The first is to fill out this interest form for Bargaining on the 17th: https://forms.gle/EvQsURN7uixMFvwRA

The second is to fill out this general Health and Safety form – the university does not want to meet regularly, and we need to know what you want so we can push them. The more you speak, the more we can speak for you.  https://forms.gle/8jb5mMagatTFukfB7

Warren Hinckle
Solidarity,

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.

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 Organizing Committee are currently working on include:

  • Bargaining a new contract with UMB’s administration to address labor concerns affecting graduate employees
  • Engaging with graduate employees and community members of UMass Boston to organize collective action and increase membership engagement
  • Administering Scholarly Support Funds (SSF) for students seeking funding to present at or attend conferences
  • Mediating member grievances 
  • Attending and helping organize coalition efforts within the community
  • Developing communications content for the website, social media, and e-newsletters.

Elections timeline:

  • Wednesday, September 15: Nomination & Voting Registration period starts
  • Sunday, September 26: Nomination period closes
  • Monday, September 27: Campaign period starts
  • Friday, October 8: Voting Registration ends
  • Tuesday & Wednesday, October 12 and 13: Voting days
  • Friday, October 15: Result Announcement

How do I nominate myself?

To nominate yourself, you must email your completed nomination form and evidence that you are an active dues-paying member (your most recent pay stub – accessed through HR Direct) or a Dues authorization Form to geoumb.elections@gmail.com on or before Sunday, September 26 at 5:00 p.m. EST. Please complete all sections of the nomination form. 

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 you are all often too busy, stressed, stacked up with classes and work and family and your second or third jobs to attend bargaining sessions: it’s why we’re asking for these testimonies. To read them on your behalf, anonymously, to stress to the university how important it is we get bargaining moving, and how absolutely essential it is that our work comes with respect, dignity, and proper conditions.

You can help by taking the survey here

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!

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 you can and should feel free to share widely.   https://www.facebook.com/events/1876900929131978

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 with any question.

In Solidarity,

The GEO