Author: geoumassboston

UPDATE // CONTRACT BARGAINING

Over the last few months, GEO and management have solidified ground-rules and begun the process of main-table bargaining. Management originally proposed a one-year extension of the contract with no change, which we turned down, as we could not see the rationale for it; later, however, we thought that a one-year extension would be good for membership if, and only if, it included a much higher health insurance waiver. We are waiting to hear back on management of this offer; it has been working its way through different offices since we first brought it up, and we have taken the extra time to work on impact bargaining proposals.

If we can get this one year extension, and if membership is willing to ratify it, it would give a large financial boon to those on the health insurance plan–the cost of which, for a full time GEO member, is now a thousand dollars a year. It’s more for those without a full time position. If management is not willing to accept this deal, then we will continue with main table bargaining as normal, seeking a three-year contract; we will be in it for the long haul, and likely will be bargaining until next year. 

Our platform for bargaining was approved last spring by membership. You asked us to focus on the following core ideas:

  • Increasing wages for all GAs
  • Increasing health insurance waivers
  • Eliminating extra fees and charges by making tuition waivers all inclusive
  • Increasing mental health and addictions counseling services 
  • Developing support for GAs with families
  • Providing family and medical leave policies for all GAs
  • Increasing transportation assistance for all commuters
  • Reducing student food insecurity
  • Providing student housing support
  • Removing winter pay gap
  • Improving support and protections for summer student-workers
  • Eliminating tuition for online and summer classes
  • Increasing student representation in campus decision-making

To endorse our bargaining platform, please sign up on our website: (https://geoumb.org/geo-umass-boston-bargaining-platform-2020-2023/)

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.

Additionally, please let us know if you’ve gotten any information from the university about parking on campus once the semester begins.

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 are required and ask for information about our local. That information is here:
Union Affiliation: UAW 1596
How many F1 members are in your local: Approximately 200
Second: Our comrades at HGSU-UAW are hosting an action this coming Monday. Join us to say #NoStudentBan and #NODeportations. Monday, July 13th, 12pm at the MA State House. You can view the flyer here.

We hope you’re able to stay safe and healthy in these difficult times. As always, you can reach out to us at geo@umb.edu, or reach out to us individually using our information below if that makes you more comfortable.

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:

  1. Livestream the Rally and Speeches (with music in between) at https://umassboston.zoom.us/j/91448712027
  • Share the protest on your facebook, Instagram and Twitter!
  • Tweet your support with the #s  —#NoCuts #NoLayoffs  #FundUMB#UMBSafe at:

Marty Meehan (@MartyMeehan) · Twitter

UMass Boston (@UMassBoston) · Twitter

University of Massachusetts (@UMass) | Twitter

 Put People First: protect our students, our health, and our jobs. 

  • Save UMB: No cuts or layoffs!  Cuts and layoffs wreck our urban mission, reducing staffing, teachers, and courses.
  • Protect UMB: Ensure a safe campus for all! Prioritize the health and welfare of all members of our community by protecting us from Coronavirus and police violence.
  • Fund UMB: Fund Classrooms not Cops!  Budgets are priority lists–put education above policing and surveillance. 

ACTION // JUNE 17TH CAR CARAVAN, BOSTON

We have a message for Marty Meehan:

Save UMB!
Protect UMB!
Fund UMB!

Join UMass Unions from across the state in a day of action 
to protect our students, our health, and our jobs.  

We demand:

  • Save UMB: No cuts or layoffs!  Cuts and layoffs wreck our urban mission,  reducing staffing, teachers, and courses.
  • Protect UMB: Ensure a safe campus for all! Prioritize the health and welfare of all members of our community by protecting us from Coronavirus and police violence.
  • Fund UMB: Fund Classrooms not Cops!  Budgets are priority lists–put education above policing and surveillance.  

We are hosting A CAR CARAVAN PROTEST for JUNE 17TH at 11:00AM!

We’ll start with a rally at the Boston Teachers Union parking lot (180 Mount Vernon St., next to Bayside), then get in our cars to drive past the President’s office at 1 Beacon St. where we’ll meet a rally of fellow protesters and continue on to some fun and surprising destinations!  We will do a couple of slow-drive loops in loud and joyful celebration to get dear Marty to pay attention to our demands.

Don’t want to drive?  Join the stand out at 1 Beacon St to cheer on the car caravan!  You can hold signs and make a lot of noise.

Sign up to join the standout or the car caravan so we know you’re coming:  https://forms.gle/Gphv1A3ohyCzGNJq8 

If you’re interested in volunteering as a driver with someone else in your car, a photographer, a videographer, or a police liaison, please email Warren at whinckle@gmail.com.

#NoCuts #NoLayoffs  #FundUMB#UMBSafe 
#NoCuts #NoLayoffs #FundUMB#UMBSafe

STATEMENT // IN SUPPORT OF TODAY’S PROTEST

UMass Boston GEO-UAW 1596 stands in solidarity with protesters and demonstrators around the world calling for justice and an end to racial inequality and police brutality. The murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis PD has sparked a new wave of public outcry against the systemic racial oppression inherent in our country, and these protest have often seen violent or agitational police response. We condemn the continued violence of police against protesters. 

Students at UMass Boston have organized a protest to take place on campus later today at 5:30; the protest starts at campus center. We encourage that you show up. If we all speak as one, the state and country will have to listen.

The link to the FB event is here. 

Bring a mask, bandana, or other face covering.

Bring signs.

Wear black in solidarity with those who have been lost to police violence. 

Bring an instrument–including pots and pans–so we can make lots of noise!

Other information can be found on the facebook event page.

An Open Letter // Against the Police Presence at the University of Massachusetts Boston

The Graduate Employee Organization stands in solidarity with the thousands of protesters who have been militant in demanding justice for George Floyd after his murder by four Minneapolis Police Officers: Rek Chauvin, Thomas Lane, J Alexander Kueng, and Tou Thao. The killing of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and many other Black Men, Women, and gender non-binary people by the state re-entrenches the anti-Black racism underlying the U.S. criminal justice system and its law enforcement. We stand against police terror, and against the white supremacist system which police terror serves. 

In the last couple of days… [read more and sign onto our open letter here]

UPDATE // IMPACT BARGAINING

  • After two months of meetings with the university, we re-evaluated the point of impact bargaining and came to the conclusion that management was using it to delay us from main-table bargaining, and to distract us from other issues.
  • The agreement we signed still offers protections for Spring GAs, and runs to the end of Spring semester.
  • We were also able to guarantee a pause on parking fees, pushed for the refunds that have come through, and got the optional statue-of-limitations delay for those who may need more time to complete their degree.
  • We got the university to agree to the voluntary CDC guidelines for on-campus GAs, and managed to ensure any left-over conference funds would be rolled into next year — and spent on members who were out money due to canceled conferences this semester.
  • As we shift away from impact bargaining, our focus will be to re-enter main-table bargaining with the university to get better language and protections in place for GAs–including everything we’ve talked about and been fighting for throughout early Spring before the pandemic hit.

GUIDANCE // Unemployment Insurance for Graduate Assistants

After research and consultation with legal, we’ve come to the conclusion that it is likely graduate assistants will be eligible for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance over summer. To that end, we’ve prepared the following guidelines, catch-alls and warnings that follow to make sure folks know about what pitfalls they may run into and what benefits they can get. This is the best information we have at the moment; the exact numbers here are likely to change over time as we get better information.

EDIT on 5.19: information on when to apply (day after employment ends), if you’re eligible if you’re graduating (yes, if you had a job lined up that fell through due to COVID), and what to do if you’re denied PUA (tell us ASAP).

EDIT on 6.11:

Note: Massachusetts has been having a lot of fraudulent claims for unemployment, which has led to some accounts being locked over time. If this happens, call the DUA directly and be patient. They may ask for verification that you are who you are, which is inconvenient, but is how they’re getting through dealing with the fraud.

Note: Apply, apply, apply! The best thing you can do if you are uncertain for whatever reason is apply and be truthful as you can–if you are denied, please let us know ASAP.

Note: UMass Boston has been incorrectly reporting wages to the Department of Unemployment Assistance, which has led to an irregularity in the records for the DUA. Be sure to have your W2 files on hand when you begin to apply, as you may realize that you have to send them in; double check and see that your reported wages from UMass Boston are correct when the DUA sends you their reports and numbers.

  • How much do I get?
    • In MA, you get half of the average weekly benefit, which has a minimum of $267 per week. That’s likely what you will be getting on that end, but:
    • We’re also all eligible for Pandemic Financial Unemployment Compensation, which is another $600 per week (until the end of June), for a total of $867 until the end of June.
  • How do I apply?
    • Apply when your employment with the university ends.
    • The process starts with normal Unemployment Insurance; normal applying for unemployment.
    • Normal UI will turn you down. But with their denial, you can then go to the office of Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, which will ask you if you have received a denial from the normal Unemployment office, to which you will be able to say yes.
    • Unfortunately this is a hoop in place that we need to jump through.
  • When do I apply?
    • The day after your job ends. For most of us, that will be the 24th.
  • What if I’m graduating?
    • If you were supposed to be employed but your employment has been delayed or retracted due to COVID, you’ll still be eligible.
  • What about partial work loss?
    • The way the benefit works is that if there is any week in which your income exceeds your base unemployment benefit ($267), you will not receive unemployment for that week.
    • Unfortunately that means a minor reduction in total hours may not be covered.
  • Week-to-Week
    • UI and PUA eligibility is checked week-to-week, and benefits are paid on a weekly basis.
    • If you make more than the base unemployment benefit (of $267) in one week, you won’t be eligible for that amount, nor for the $600 from Federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (FPUC). That said, you would be eligible the next week, depending on earnings.
    • The rough math is: 
      • the Department of Unemployment Assistance counts one third of how much you make against your base unemployment benefit before the $600 FPUC funds.
      • So 1/3rd of your total weekly earnings is greater than $287, you won’t receive FPUC, or UI, for that week.
      • You should be back on for the next week–as UI calculates week-to-week–unless 1/3rd of your total pay from all jobs is, again, above $287.
  • For international/out of country:
    • While you can receive the unemployment benefit while out of the state, you may not receive unemployment from Mass while out of the country.
    • For PUA, you are eligible if you have a valid SSN, and a USCIS issued document. Basically, UI is looking for the A# — the alien registration number. 
    • You must still be in country to receive the benefit in this case or any. 
  • Some miscellaneous things:
    • Having to jump through the hoop of being denied for Unemployment Insurance before applying for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance is painful, but required to earn the benefit from the research we’ve done.
    • Overpayment is something to monitor. The system is new, and if they make an error, you may be responsible for it. Double check the math using the benefits calculator linked here: https://www.mass.gov/info-details/how-your-unemployment-benefits-are-determined#unemployment-benefits-determination-calculator-
    • Benefits are contingent based on you not having a reasonable assurance of returning to work. Because the university budget is delayed, we do not have that assurance. You only have reasonable assurance of continuing to work if you have a signed contract for the Fall semester.
  • What if I’m denied both regular unemployment and PUA?
    • Let us know. It’s our understanding that you will not be denied PUA… if that happens, we need to know to figure out what happened on the back-end.