Bargaining Update: Tentative Agreement

The GEO Bargaining Committee is proud to announce that we have come to a tentative agreement on a successor contract.  We believe that the new contract we bargained over the last few months offers significant improvements to the wages and working conditions of our members.  We are therefore recommending that members of the GEO bargaining unit ratify this contract in a vote on September 19 and 20 from 12-2pm in Campus Center 174, and at the beginning of the GEO Membership Meeting on September 20 at 6pm in Campus Center 101.

We have provided a summary of the modifications to the contract as a pdf.  We encourage you to contact the GEO office with questions.

Thank you,
The GEO Bargaining Committee
Jocelyn Silverlight, Bargaining Co-Chair, GEO Co-Chair
Thomas Herndon, Bargaining Co-Chair
Kathleen Baldwin, Bargaining Member
Anders Minter, Bargaining Member
Jonathan Cooper, Bargaining Member
Derek Doughty, GEO Co-Chair
Danielle Allessio, GEO Membership Mobilization Coordinator
Yetunde Ajao, GEO Organizer
Ron Patenaude, UAW 2322 President
Ryan Quinn, UAW 2322 Servicing Rep.
Court Cline, UAW 2322 Servicing Rep.

2012 Bargaining Survey Results

Following three months of canvassing, the GEO Bargaining Committee is ready to announce its initial bargaining survey results.  We were pleased with the response from membership and with the help we received from stewards who distributed and collected surveys, and who worked with GEO staff and the GEO Bargaining Committee to speak with members at their work sites.

Bargaining Priorities

We asked members to choose their top 3 priorities from a list of common concerns members have raised with staff.  The following chart illustrates the percentage of members identifying each potential bargaining priority as one of their top 3 concerns.

In addition to these priorities, 6 members identified the elimination of the recreation fee for graduate students as a priority.

It is, perhaps, not surprising that health insurance is GEO’s top priority.  Management’s attacks on our members’ health care – through “coinsurance” fees and proposed cuts to University Health Services – have lead to some of the most significant public actions GEO has taken in years, where hundreds of members participated in rallies and demonstrations to demand access to health care.


We also asked members about their contracted hours and whether they are able to finish their work within those hours.  We found that, of those responding, members are working 128% of their contracted hours.  This means that, on a 20 hour per week contract, an average member would work 25 hours and 36 minutes per week.  Fully 66% of respondents told us that a typical work week exceeded their contracted hours.

There were seven departments where the average respondent’s workload was 200% or more than their contracted hours:

  • Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
  • Chemical Engineering
  • Chemistry
  • Astronomy
  • Biology
  • Polymer Science and Engineering
  • Molecular and Cellular Biology

Willingness to Help

We asked members how they would be willing to help us win a good contract.  93% of members said that they would help a contract campaign by either wearing a button or sticker, talking to a coworker about the contract, or attending a bargaining session or contract rally.  This show of support is going to be crucial for us to win the gains we all want to see in our next contract.  We will be in touch with members who want to help when planning our contract campaign.  Look out for meetings and updates of the Contract Organizing Committee for more information on actions around the contract.

If you haven’t completed a survey…

…we still want to hear from you!  Fill out our online survey now or stop by the GEO Office, 201 Student Union, to complete a paper copy.  If you are a steward or just a member who wants to help out, contact GEO President Derek Doughty to set up a time when you can join a staff organizer to distribute surveys in your department.

2012 Online Bargaining Survey

Hello fellow GEO members,

Please take a moment to complete our 2012 Online Bargaining Survey. We want to make sure that everyone’s voice is heard! We have been out in members’ work sites speaking with members about the upcoming contract, and so far GEO members have sent a clear message to the bargaining committee that protecting and improving health care should be GEO’s #1 priority.

This is the same paper survey that you may have seen in your mailbox or given to you by a steward, bargaining committee member, or GEO staff member. If you already filled out a paper survey in the last month, you do not need to complete this online survey.

Thank you,
The GEO Bargaining Committee

Kathleen Baldwin, Writing Program
Zane Farr, Public Policy and Administration
Matthew Ferrari, Communication
Jianing Gao, School of Management
Elva Orozco-Mendoza, Political Science
Roberto Garcia-Ceballos, Social Justice Education
Thomas Herndon, Economics
Jeffrey Robinson, History
Jonathan Cooper, Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning
Derek Doughty, GEO President
Jocelyn Silverlight, GEO Vice-President
David Wemhoener, GEO Secretary-Treasurer
Ryan Quinn, UAW Local 2322 Servicing Rep.

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 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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