Author: geoumassboston

SSF applications are opening soon!

Dear GEO Members,

You still have a couple of days to prepare for applying for the Fall 2020 round of the Scholarly Support Fund (SSF). We were able to expand the range of qualifying expenses due to the current juncture.

SSF applications will go live on Monday, November 9th (8 am), and close on Friday, November 13th (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

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 kept fighting and have managed to walk away with some really substantive gains. We are excited to recommend this agreement for ratification.

Before we dive into the details, we have to first give immense credit and gratitude to the hard work of the members of GEO who work on campus right now. They have fought, organized, petitioned, and emailed University management over safety issues and parking costs. They helped convince the University that forcing GEO members to pay the expensive parking rates meant people would have to take the T, and that this would jeopardize millions of dollars of research and the health of University employees and their families. The fact is, a solid amount of this win comes from their efforts, and without them, we’d be walking away with a weaker deal.

The short version of the proposal is as follows:

  • The CBA will be extended (evergreened) to cover fiscal year 2020-2021.
  • The University will pay for the increased cost of health insurance for fiscal year 2020-2021, effectively freezing last year’s rates. This saves members a lot of money right now!
  • The University will work with us to properly utilize the Scholarly Support Fund in order to bolster the unit’s scholarly activities; since we can’t travel, the fund will go to cover other activities.
  • The University has committed to making parking free for graduate assistants who are required to be on-site for Fall. This program covers everyone approved to come to campus regularly.

This agreement is only for the short term. We will resume main-table bargaining on the week of March 1st, 2021. This gives us more time to organize our members, so we can continue to pressure the university for fair wages and better working conditions.

You can find the text of the tentative agreement here.

We will see all of you next Thursday afternoon, where we’ll discuss more details, answer questions, and ratify the proposed contract.

Best,
The Graduate Advocate

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 is here.
  • And for all members: sign this petition! Some members working as RAs who have to come to campus have formed a petition, and we’re happy to spread the word. You can sign it here. 

ALL-MEMBER MEETING
SEPTEMBER 28TH, 5.30PM-7.00PM

Our large, all-membership, COVID-and-impact-and-main table bargaining meeting will take place this coming Monday, September 28th, from 5:30pm EST to 7:00pm EST!

Come with any complaint, question, concern, or issue you have. We know this is our first membership meeting this semester, and we want to see all of you there! We’ll send out the Zoom link on Monday morning, as well as a reminder.

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

  1. 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 members in good standing are eligible to be nominated to any one (1) Local Union Executive Office position. Interested members must submit, by registered or certified mail, a nomination form to UAW Local 1596 Election Committee 960 Turnpike Street, Suite 2C, Canton, MA 02021 (Local 1596 By-Laws Article 13, Section 11). Nominations open on 9/25/20 and all nomination forms must be in UAW Local 1596 office by close of business on 10/14/20 in order to be included on the ballot.  Nomination forms can be obtained from your steward.
  • Candidates shall have the right within thirty (30) days of the election (9/25/20 to 10/20/20) to inspect the mailing list containing the names and last known addresses of all members eligible to vote.  Candidates do not have the right to copy the membership list, only the right to inspect and/or compare it with a personal list of members. The ballots will be mailed out on 10/20/20.
  • Each candidate shall have a right to have one (1) challenger present when the votes are tabulated provided that such challenger shall be a member of the Local Union and any cost shall be borne by the candidate.  (International Constitution Article 38, Section 10-g).
  • Ballots must be returned no later than the close of business on10/28/20. The ballots will be counted at the UAW office at 960 Turnpike Street, Canton, MA.

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 for membership and voting by filling out a NEW membership PDF form and sending it from your UMB email to geoumb.elections@gmail.com. If you’re already a member, this won’t lead you to being charged again; it just makes it easier for us to tell who currently is and isn’t a dues-paying member for the purpose of voting. Again, to register to vote you must fill out and send a membership PDF form to geoumb.elections@gmail.com.

For the answers to questions like: why do you need to register?, How do I register?, How do I vote?, and more – read up on our Fall 2020 Election FAQ, linked here!

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.

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 demanding immediate relief from extra costs associated with COVID and Health Care. We will keep you updated as negotiations progress. But our guiding principles are still the same, we need fair wages and a safe working environment for graduate student employees at UMass!

Scholarly Support Fund

Because we are still working on a new contract with the university, SSF is still up in the air; as things stand currently no travel or reimbursement for travel is allowed by UMass. Unfortunately SSF remains in a tentative grey area as we negotiate with the University.

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 GEO member. 

This year elections will be done electronically. Therefore, we will be asking those who are not currently active-dues-paying members to consider signing up for membership early prior to voting. We also recommend that those who currently are or will become eligible for voting register for voting early as well. We will be sending details about the voter registration and nomination process, and more, soon. Stay tuned!

Here is the temporary election process schedule: (final dates to come with next announcement)

  • Tuesday, September 15th: Nomination and Registration period starts. 
  • Tuesday, September 22nd: Nomination period closes. 
  • Wednesday, September 23rd: Campaign period starts.
  • Tuesday, October 7th: Voting registration ends at 5:00 p.m. EST.
  • Thursday and Friday, October 8th and 9th: Voting!
  • Monday, October 12th: Results will be announced.

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 with our union partners; we met with them on Monday to deliver our first proposals, which are all about ensuring and enforcing rules to keep everyone healthy. We’re presently waiting on them to get back to us with dates to meet again.

Main Table Bargaining: we are awaiting proposals from management that would entail a one-year extension at the benefit of reduced health insurance costs. We don’t know how much the reduction would be; our next main table bargaining meeting with management is on the 16th.

GEO Elections: due to COVID, we’ve had to overhaul our election process – and we still are. We plan to announce the self-nomination period next week once we iron out all details!

The Scholarly Support Fund: due to COVID, some of you asked if you could request SSF for things other than airfare, conference registration fees, and hotel bookings – because none of us are going to be traveling. We’re in discussions with the university about how to achieve this, but want to tell you now that SSF will be delayed, and applications will not open on the first day of the semester. Once we know more details we will let all of you know.

Stay safe out there,
The Graduate Advocate

INFORMATION // THE SCHOLARLY SUPPORT FUND

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 delay applications to make the program more effective, we will let you know well in advance.