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 GAs. Signing a dues authorization card is what makes the collective bargaining agreement possible: without dues, the university would be able to lower our pay, freeze (or reduce) our benefits, and worse.

If you would like an Organizing Committee member to come and discuss the content of this email to your department please email Jonathan Vega Martinez at to schedule a talk. We’d love to explain these developments and their importance to you and peers in a face to face setting!

While all GAs are in the union, the union asks all GAs to be dues-paying members by signing a dues authorization card. (Make sure to sign at the bottom left!) By becoming a dues-paying member of the union, you benefit and are eligible for:

– The minimum stipend for all GAs (and the raises we receive to that stipend every year)
– Representation in grievances
– The Student Health Insurance Benefit ($2750 in AY22-23)
– The tuition waiver, which is pro-rated to your assistantship hours
– Access to the Scholarly Support Fund (a $25,000 fund for travel and academic expenses, administered by the union)
– Access to the Emergency Support Fund (a $25,000 fund for unexpected financial hardship, administered by the union)
– You can run in Union Elections
– You can vote in Union Elections
– You can vote to ratify the contract in bargaining years

We strongly recommend that you sign a dues authorization card so we can keep these benefits! Every year, the university tries some new scheme to disenfranchise union members and the union – and every year, we have to find out a new way to push back against it.

By not being a dues-paying member of the union, you cannot run for or vote in union elections, nor can you vote to ratify the contract. This means that you cannot vote for or run for the organizing committee – the people who negotiate the contract – nor ratify and express approval or disapproval for the contract. Additionally, you may be charged a service fee should you require representation as part of a grievance. 

This is the Dues Authorization Form is also the FERPA waiver. Waiving your FERPA rights only applies to the union, and the entire purpose of it is to make it possible for the union to get in touch with you and your colleagues and help organize. We do not request your academic information like grades or GPA. Furthermore, signing the waiver does not allow some random person to walk in off the street and request your information. WE STRONGLY RECOMMEND YOU SIGN THE FERPA WAIVER.

The end of Fall semester is near – and Spring is just around the corner. Along with Spring will come BARGAINING – and that means we’ll be negotiating for our raises for the 2023 and onward contract year, as well as our benefits for those years, which will include the health insurance benefit.

Remember: THIS IS YOUR UNION. Without your involvement, we do not win at the negotiating table, and the university can claw back our benefits – don’t let them. Join the union, and show up during bargaining!

The GEO Organizing Committee
Warren Hinckle

Thursday – Bargaining, Action, Social!


This Thursday we need you to show up! It is a day packed with collective action, bargaining, and some after-bargaining fun! You can join for any or all of it. We have to present a strong and unified front to finally get management to offer us a contract that substantially improves the lives of grad employees.

… and we are also LONG overdue to have some time together.

  • Between 09:45am and 10:15am, join us in the Union Office (Quinn-02-081) to prepare for our rally on Quinn’s third floor!
  • From 10:15am to 10:45am, we’ll be at Quinn-03 to hold our action and rally – where we’ll push our open letter to the powers that be and demand the university treat us right!
  • You can read the open letter here,
  • And sign it here! ANYONE CAN SIGN: share it widely.
  • At 10:45am we’ll head over to CC2115 – where we’ll be in bargaining with management until 1pm! The conference room has a big, wall-length window that management always conveniently sits right across from. To have all of our membership staring them down makes our demands real in a way nothing else can. .
  • You can show up at any time, but we need you there!
  • Bargaining ends at 1pm – and we plan to meet at the Harp and Bard from 2pm to 5pm to take a breather, pat ourselves on the back, and socialize. Come join all of us at the Harp (1099 Dorchester Avenue, about 15 minutes from campus) for an afternoon of lunch, company, and solidarity!

If you have any dietary restrictions or needs, email us to let us know!

See you Thursday!

Public College Should Not be a Debt Sentence!

Take Action to Win Debt-Free College in Mass.


You might have heard the news that this week New Mexico became the 31st state to offer some kind of statewide debt-free college. We need your help to win that in Massachusetts!

PHENOM (Public Higher Ed Network of Massachusetts) and other groups need our help to advance a debt-free college bill in our state legislature. If it doesn’t move out of committee to a floor vote, this bill will die and will have to be restarted in the next legislative session. S829/H1339, An Act to Guarantee Debt-Free Public Higher Education,” would guarantee every Massachusetts resident has a right to a public higher education free of tuition, fees, and student debt and covers all MA public higher ed institutions, including UMB.

This legislation will create a grant program to cover tuition and fees for all MA residents to attend any MA public college, university, or certificate, vocational or training program. It will also cover additional costs of attendance (housing, transportation, books, etc.) for low income students. These funds will NOT affect eligibility for other financial aid.

Will you make 2 phone calls on Thurs. 3/24 to help win Debt-Free College in MA?

Any time between 9am and 5pm on Thursday 3/24 [tomorrow!], please call the Chairs of the Joint Committee on Higher Education and ask them to positively report out S829/H1339 “An Act to Guarantee Debt-Free Public Higher Education,” before the April 4th deadline. This will bring the bill to the House and Senate floors for a vote. Otherwise, the bill will die, and PHENOM will have to start over during the next State House session. Note that both these Chairs are big supporters of public higher education.

The Senate Committee Chair is Senator Anne M. Gobi of Central Mass. Her phone number is: 617-722-1540

The House Committee Chair is Representative David Rogers of Cambridge. His phone number is: (617) 722-2263

Some Talking Points:

  • When you call Senator Gobi’s and Rep. Roger’s offices, please give them your name and your UMass Boston affiliation (staff, student, alum, faculty, etc.).
  • The ask: you are calling to ask the Chair to please positively report out S829/H1339 “An Act to Guarantee Debt-Free Public Higher Education,” before the April 4th deadline.
  • Please also tell the Chairs why this legislation matters to you.

Some ideas on why passing S829/H1339 matters to so many people in Massachusetts:

  • I believe that access to debt-free, high-quality public higher education should be the right of every Massachusetts resident.
  • Cuts in state funding for public colleges are making it impossible for students and families to afford college. These cuts are now driving Massachusetts public college tuition and fees up faster than any other state in the country. 
  • Many students and their families are burdened by debilitating debt that severely limits their future opportunities.
  • The average student debt in Massachusetts is $37,172 growing.
  • Student debt affects most heavily Black, Latinx, other people of color, low-income and first generation students, who are the majority of our UMass Boston undergraduate students.
  • Massachusetts has the 10th highest student debt burden in the country and the sixth lowest public college budget.
  • 31 other state legislatures have passed some kind of debt-free college legislation. Our state legislature should join them!

Please let us know what you hear from on your calls or hear back from the Committee Chairs. Share that information with our UMB PHENOM Organizer,

HVAC Presentation and Report

The Massachusetts Teacher Association commissioned a third party to do an airflow evaluation of Wheatley – we now have the reports, and they are not good. Sixty percent of the rooms in Wheatley do not achieve the recommended number of air exchanges per hour. 

Read the report here. On Friday, join us from 12pm to 1pm as the researchers present their findings directly. You can do so by clicking into this Zoom link at that time.

Undoing Racism Anti-Racist Training

The Undoing Racism Assembly is offering two (2) separate virtual training workshops this spring. The first virtual workshop will run on Fridays: March 25, April 1, and April 8 (9am-3pm). The second virtual workshop will run on Thursdays: April 21, April 28, and May 5 (9am-3pm). Participation in all three sessions of the workshop you sign-up for is required.

This training is an important step towards being armed with information that can assist with UMB’s aim to be an anti-racist and health promoting university. To register, use this link: 

Please reach out to ​ and if you have any questions.

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 morning and afternoon (you can see the times in the google form below!) to help us spread the word. The plan is to have a non-disruptive presence; ESS isn’t why we’re underpaid. But if we can educate and inform everyone who is on campus for that conference, we can turn them into allies and make sure they remember UMass Boston’s graduate students as they return home… or tell the chancellor about us. 

To volunteer, fill out this google form: 

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

1030AM, Quinn-03-081A, or

1100AM, CC2115

We will be holding more events in the weeks to come. Management is starting to move, which means we have to push them harder. Keep your eyes and schedules open. 

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’. This past history of shared governance is partly why we have a strong Faculty Council today. It is this same strength that some fear, and it is this very fear which holds us back from achieving our aspirations and long-term visions.

Thus it was with great concern that many of us in the graduate student community read the joint statement released by Chancellor Marcelo Suárez-Orozco and Provost Joe Berger on Thursday, February 10, 2022. Upon further investigation, this concern turned into disappointment and dismay. The statement accused members of the Faculty Council of behaving in a racist manner during their previous meeting. In fact, this charge of racism was levied to shield themselves from criticism of their leadership practices. In doing so, they used racist tropes to discourage faculty from speaking out about leadership decisions. 

Their statement continued on to espouse a goal of becoming an anti-racist institution, yet their actions are not in line with this objective. We are not the only ones disappointed; we’re sure many of you have seen the responses put out by other unions and student groups on campus. (We encourage those interested to click here to see a transcript from the meeting and emails from the FSU.)

While we at GEO couldn’t agree more that we must aspire to be anti-racist, we feel it necessary to point out that this statement itself exhibits racist character and perpetuates racist tropes. GEO had representatives attend the Faculty Council meeting in question. At no time did we feel the legitimate concerns of faculty were racially motivated. The concerns of faculty were rooted in principles of shared governance. The critiques they leveled were not directed at Dr. Tyson King-Meadows, but rather at the Provost and Chancellor for ignoring faculty requests to be included in the process of selecting a search committee chair. Not who was chosen, but how they were chosen. The critique was not undue scrutiny of Dr. King-Meadows, in fact his credentials never were discussed; it was legitimate and necessary scrutiny of the selection process used by the Chancellor and the Provost. It was criticism of dictatorial imperatives instead of democratic ideals.  

UMB is currently filling a large number of senior leadership roles, particularly Deans, to oversee different campus colleges. Many faculty believe, as graduate students do, that the people who work in these colleges deserve to have their voices heard. They should have a role in the process. 

Leaders exist at all levels of an organization. Leaders stand up for what they feel is right, exhibit character in the face of adversity, and dare to speak truth to power. This is what faculty did when they made it known that ideals of shared governance were not being demonstrated by the Chancellor and the Provost. They did what was right and appropriate by demanding more inclusion of students, staff, and faculty in the process of selecting new college Deans.

Students already have an imbalance of trust and legitimacy at UMB. For many of us, we have chosen this university not for the levels of support we are offered (as the lowest paid in the state and amongst peer institutions), but for the quality of the faculty. It is the faculty advisors that most of us see as our personal beacons guiding us through higher education. The Chancellors and Provosts at UMB continue to deny us reasonable funding, they only put token student representation on governance committees, and they obstruct efforts of the University community to become more anti-racist. The joint statement issued by the Chancellor and Provost last week does not add luster to their character. It reveals their grasping and self-centered actions as a means of dismantling shared governance. It reveals their disdain for the anti-racist efforts of faculty.

We in the GEO issue this statement to show our appreciation for faculty – particularly the Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) faculty who have been fighting against systemic racism for decades. It is not racist to make legitimate criticisms of process and procedure. It is not racist to believe that shared and collective governance is critical in a public research university. 

We call on the Chancellor and Provost to make amends for their racist behavior. We implore the University to commit to the process of becoming anti-racist. More than just an apology, if the Chancellor and Provost aspire to help UMB become an anti-racist institution, they need to act. We call on them to adopt and attend the training programs being advocated by the Undoing Racism Assembly and others working to restore justice in our community. They need to ensure that the actions of Thursday, February 10, 2022 are not repeated again. Enough is enough.    

Bargaining – Feb 17 – IN-PERSON

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 a Thursday morning. We’ll bring the coffee and donuts. You bring the rest.
Meet us between 09:00 and 09:15 at Quinn-02-081A
— or join us directly in bargaining between 09:30 and 11:30 in Campus Center 2115.

GEO Organizing Committee
Warren Hinckle 

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 11:30
Register 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 11th from 10:30 to 11:30. Joanne Riley, Interim Dean of University Libraries, will join with other speakers to provide an update on the current state of the library, including comparisons with peer universities, the view into FY22, and to invite community feedback and ideas about what a thriving campus library for the city’s only public research university should look like.

FSU Forum on Fall Semester Opening – Thursday, May 13th, 2-3pm
Register here:

Please join us for a Forum on the Fall Semester opening of campus. Do you have concerns about the campus opening? Are there health and safety issues you want to raise? Workload issues? Pedagogical concerns? How do we reopen while keeping health, equity, wellness and education at the center for faculty, staff, and students? The FSU will share information. But the main purpose of the Forum is to listen to each other and determine how we want to make our voices heard.