GEO returned to the bargaining table last Monday February 2, heading
into our 8th month of negotiations. The University presented GEO with
a wage proposal on September 25th which included a three year contract
with an annual 2.5% pay increase. After consulting the membership,
GEO accepted this original offer, which the University, in light of
the progressive economic crisis refused to discuss. Susan Chinman,
the Universities Chief Negotiator refused to bargain over economic
issues up until the winter break.
Upon returning Monday, the university presented us with new economic
perimeters, officially withdrawing the original offer. The new offer
included a three year contract–with stipend “increases” as follows:
Effective August 31st, 2008, stipends increase in the amount of 0%, as
of August 30, 2009 stipends increase by 1.5%, and effective September
5, 2010 stipends will increase by 2.5%. The proposal also included an
addendum which stipulated if actual state revenues in FY 10′ are equal
to or exceed $20.3 billion, and additional 1% across-the-board stipend
increase may be made for a total of 2.5% in FY 10′, retroactive to
August 30, 2009. One time federal money, and any new tax revenue
monies will not count towards the $20.3 billion.
By all accounts this proposal is regressive bargaining, and GEO along
with the other labor unions on campus intends on pursuing a unfair
labor practice suit against the university. The university is still
refusing to bargain over all of our fee proposals which include a
proposal to waive all mandatory fees, including the grad service fee,
the one time entering graduate fee, and the engineering fee.
While GEO understands that times are hard for all working people
across the country, the Obama administration and many economists argue
that two of the priorities for economic recovery include investment in
jobs and higher education. GEO is taking the position that UMass
should take heed to this rational position by investing in its
graduate student workers through decreasing the burden on graduate
employees by relieving us from the overwhelming burden of mounting
fees while providing a living wage, essentially they are one in the
same: Fees = Paycut.
Asking us to take a 0% pay increase with the approximately 4% cost of living increase is already a 4% pay cut. With
the looming possibility of increase fees, this is unreasonable.