Dear GEO-UAW family,
An enthusiastic congratulations to all of our members who graduated today! We are consistently humbled to have so many wonderful, brilliant people in this union, and we wish all of today’s graduates a bright, happy future. Thank you for all you have contributed to our campus and our union!
We also have wonderful news to share with all of you: after nearly a year of negotiations, our Bargaining Committee has finally reached a tentative agreement with the University on our new contract! The agreement includes a number of major wins, which are written below.
We feel confident in calling this agreement a significant victory for our union. Amid a challenging campus climate, we were able to make many major gains that will empower and protect the graduate student workforce at UMass Amherst now and in the future.
The next step is to vote on whether to ratify the new contract; see below for details on the ratification vote. We encourage you to read the contract highlights carefully and contact the Bargaining Committee with any questions about the agreement in advance of the vote. Many thanks to everyone who helped with the negotiation process, from sending us ideas for demands to participating in negotiations as observers to rallying for a fair contract. We could not have done any of this without you, and we feel so honored to have stood alongside all of you in the fight for a fair contract.
What a beautiful way to end the year! See you at the ratification polls next Thursday!
Warmly and in solidarity,
Your GEO-UAW Bargaining Committee & AY 2014-2015 leaders
NOTICE OF CONTRACT RATIFICATION VOTE
GRADUATE EMPLOYEE ORGANIZATION (GEO) / UAW LOCAL 2322
There will be a ratification vote on the Tentative Agreement reached between the UAW/Local 2322/GEO (“the Union”) and UMass Amherst to modify the previous collective bargaining agreement between the Union and UMass. The new collective bargaining agreement will be effective from the date of execution by the Union and UMass (following ratification) until August 31, 2017.
POLLING LOCATION: GEO-UAW OFFICE @ 201 STUDENT UNION
DATE: THURSDAY, MAY 14TH, 2015
POLLS WILL CLOSE AT 5:30PM. A VOTE COUNT WILL TAKE PLACE IMMEDIATELY AFTER THE POLLS CLOSE; ALL ARE INVITED. RESULTS WILL BE POSTED AT WWW.GEOUAW.ORG IMMEDIATELY UPON THE COMPLETION OF THE VOTE COUNT.
The Tentative Agreement includes a service fee provision. Under Massachusetts law, if the Tentative Agreement is ratified by a majority of those who vote, the service fee provision will require that bargaining unit members who choose not to join or maintain membership in GEO pay a service fee in lieu of membership dues as a condition of employment. Union membership dues for bargaining unit members is 2%. The service (agency) fee is currently 1.78%.
The ratification vote is open to all current graduate student employees in the bargaining unit represented by the Union. Proxy voting and absentee balloting are not permitted.
The ballots will be counted and the results certified and posted at geouaw.org immediately following the close of polls on Thursday, May 14th. All graduate student employees are welcome to attend the count, which will begin at 5:30PM.
The current collective bargaining agreement and the tentatively agreed modifications which are the subject of the ratification vote can be viewed on-line at www.geouaw.org.
Local 2322’s most recent financial report, in the form of a balance sheet and operating statement listing all receipts and disbursements of the previous financial year are available for inspection during regular business hours in the GEO office, Room 201, in the Student Union.
GEO UNION CONTRACT HIGHLIGHTS
The GEO Bargaining Committee has reached a tentative agreement with UMass on a new contract which includes significant improvements in our pay, benefits and working conditions. We are proud to recommend this contract for ratification and urge members to turn out and vote “yes” on May 14th!
Pay rates will increase by 10.5% over the life of the contract (which will expire August 31, 2017) implemented as follows:
3.5% May, 2015
3.5% September, 2015
3.5% September, 2016
Graduate student employees will receive an immediate “signing bonus” of $350 (for 20 hour employees—those who work more or less hours per week will receive a pro-rated amount).
CPE rates will increase 6% over the life of the agreement on the following schedule:
2% May, 2015
2% May, 2016
2% May, 2017.
Affordable Health Care
We have achieved major savings in health care costs.
In 2011, UMass unilaterally replaced the modest co-pays in the health plan with 15% co-insurance for all benefits and services, with a cap on annual out-of-pocket expenditures of $3,000 for individuals and $12,500 for families. This contract replaces the co-insurance with affordable co-payments for certain benefits/services, including doctors, specialists, and psychotherapists, reduces the remaining co-insurance from 15% to 10% and significantly reduces the cap on annual out-of-pocket expenditures to $1,500 for individuals and $4,500 for families. In addition, the lower cap is retroactive for the current plan year and any member whose out-of-pocket medical costs exceeded the new limits is entitled to reimbursement for the difference.
We also won strong new language that will prevent UMass from ever again unilaterally increasing out-of-pocket costs or cutting benefits without bargaining with the Union!
Paid Family Medical Leave
For the first time, graduate student employees will have paid time for qualifying family and medical leave. Members will be entitled to use a full year’s worth of vacation and other “paid time off” which is normally earned based on time worked before it is earned. In addition, for parental leave for birth or adoption, graduate student employees will be entitled to sixty hours of paid leave (for 20 hr. employees—those who work more or less will receive a pro-rated amount.)
UMass will contribute an additional $15,000 per year to be used to supplement existing resources from the Health and Welfare Trust fund used to provide subsidies to graduate student employees for daycare costs. Between these sources, the intent is to cover 100% of the need for the lowest-income graduate students and 50% of the need for those in the middle range.
We have also added to existing protections against excessive workloads, with a cap on daily and weekly hours for TAs, TOs, PAs, ARDs and interns. (Although these caps are not applicable to RAs because of unique features of this position, all graduate student employees have protections in the contract against workloads that exceed their contracted hours for the semester and provide a process for adjustment. The new agreement adds an “expedited” process for resolving disputes where a graduate student employee is refused a necessary workload adjustment.
Safe & Accessible Bathrooms
TAs and TOs now have a right under our contract to have access to a gender-neutral bathroom within reasonable distance of their work assignment. In addition, the contract establishes a joint union-management committee which will conduct a campus-wide study of buildings where our members work to identify locations where gender-neutral bathroom facilities exist or could be designated without construction and to provide cost estimates and recommendations for buildings where gender-neutral facilities will require construction. In addition, this committee will have resources to pay a graduate student employee with appropriate expertise.
Fair & Transparent Appointment/Reappointment Process and Criteria
This contract addresses the lack of transparency in some departments by requiring all departments to post and maintain up-to-date procedures and criteria on-line.
Equal Employment Opportunity
A joint GEO-Administration committee will review and make recommendations on University policies on recruitment, hiring and retention of graduate student employees. There is also the potential for a paid appointment for a graduate student with applicable expertise.
Health and Safety
We also, for the first time, will have a standing GEO-Administration committee that will be a forum for addressing health and safety concerns specific to our members.
Graduate student employees will have the option of spreading parking fee payroll deductions over 3 pay periods.