The Employee Free Choice Act: Crisis and New Opportunities for Labor Organizing

Tuesday, April 14
6:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Campus Center room 162-175

This panel will feature:

*Acting Director of the UMass-Amherst Labor Center Stephanie Luce
*UAW Local 2322 President Ron Patenaude
*Western Mass Jobs with Justice President Jon Weissman
*and other labor activists and organizers.

The panel will discuss recent labor history in relation to neoliberal restructuring, connect labor organizing to the current economic crisis and present new possibilities for a strong labor movement.

Light refreshments will be provided.

GEO has reached a tentative agreement on our 8th contract with the University

Upon ratification, the contract will be in effect from August 30, 2009 to August 31, 2012. The contract will cover all UMass graduate students who are employed as Teaching Associates (TO), Teaching Assistants (TA), Research Assistants (RA), Project Assistants (PA), Assistant Residence Directors (ARD), and Graduate Interns.

None of the following changes [ratification-announcement summary] take effect until the contract is ratified by a majority of GEO-eligible employees casting valid votes. Voting will occur at two special meetings described below. To help inform you about the proposed contract and prepare you to vote we have included a detailed list of the proposed contract changes that will affect graduate student employees, listed by article. Also there will be two informational meetings held prior to ratification (see below for details).

VOTING INFORMATION:

Voting begins on Tuesday, March 31st, from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. and continues on Wednesday, April 1st, from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., both in Campus Center Rm 177. Voting closes at 5:00 p.m. on the 1st and a public counting of the votes will begin at 5:01 in the same location.

Pre-Vote Informational Meetings:

Thursday, March 26th from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. & Friday, March 27th from 10:00 a.m. to noon, both in Campus Center Rm 168.

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Holub vs. Abby and Sharla

Dear Abby and Sharla,

I’ve written to you several times over the last few months to try to
keep you posted on the ongoing fiscal crisis here at UMass Amherst and
how we as a university community are responding to it.

There has been speculation and assertions made about the budget plans
that, frankly, aren’t accurate. Today, I want to tell you what we know
about the current budget situation, and to provide you with as many
facts as I can. It is critically important that we as a university
community communicate openly and honestly, and work together to face the
serious challenges ahead. As you know, we’ve created a Budget Planning
Task Force of faculty, students and staff to assist in this process and
to make recommendations – and they have been hard at work discussing
budget cuts, fee increases, reorganization plans, potential layoffs, and
other issues tied to the upcoming budget year. I expect to receive
additional recommendations from this group soon and will, of course,
share with you my decisions on how we go forward.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kCHoRtMWiSg[/youtube]

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Trustees Vote to Raise Fees $1500

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Amid student protest, University of Massachusetts Trustees voted 12-4 this morning to increase student fees by $1,500 for the coming academic year. The hike represents a 17.6 percent spike in fees for UMass, Amherst students.

UMass, Amherst has begun laying off faculty and staff. In addition, Chancellor Holub anticipates an approximately 7% decrease in the number of graduate teaching assistants. A campus reorganization plan now being considered will merge and close departments and transfer money and support to those departments most likely to attract government and business support.

In the words of Chancellor Holub, students at UMass Amherst may expect:

  • An increase in the overall student population at both the undergraduate and graduate level. We will have to work strategically with these increases. Some programs have excess capacity already. Others can expand their capacity without significantly increasing costs by dealing creatively with the delivery of instruction. Some programs that offer professional degrees may want to increase differentially their fees. By building the campus through quality programs, we will be able to ensure a steady source of revenue.
  • A move toward a model of moderate fees and restructured financial aid. The costs currently borne by students for their education at UMass Amherst is a fraction of what their peers pay for education at private institutions in the state, and the quality is every bit as good. By raising tuition and fees moderately for the student body as a whole, and returning a more significant portion of the revenues to financial aid, we can continue our obligation to educate anyone who merits admission based on accomplishment and promise, while at the same time maintaining a quality education for everyone.
  • We will also be seeking to attract more international and out-of-state students. While we will maintain our student numbers for the citizens of the Commonwealth, we will want to provide them with exposure to students with a great variety of experiences in terms of cultural background, geographical location, and intellectual interests. The shift in admissions orientation will have the dual benefit of securing additional resources for the institution and exposing students to a greater diversity.

In short: pay more and get a lot less.