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News :: Education : Labor
Graduate student-workers at UMass-Amherst win tentative contract agreement
15 May 2005
Modified: 16 May 2005
After 14 months of battle, the Graduate Employee Organization, UAW Local 2322 reached a tentative contract agreement with the administration at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst May 10. A ratification vote is scheduled for May 19-20.

A heartening and powerful labor-community-student alliance won this stage of the struggle.

“The incredible turn out at the March 31 rally and march, the complete shutdown of the university on April 21 because of the undergraduate boycott and GEO walkout, the teach-ins, grade-ins, carol singing and bombarding of Chancellor Lombardi, and many other contract campaign events have all paid off, and allowed us to reach a tentative agreement with the university today over the terms of a new contract,” declared GEO in an email to its approximately 2, 400 members May 10.
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Graduate student-workers at UMass-Amherst win tentative contract agreement

By Bryan G. Pfeifer

After 14 months of battle, the Graduate Employee Organization, UAW Local 2322 reached a tentative contract agreement with the administration at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst May 10. A ratification vote is scheduled for May 19-20.

A heartening and powerful labor-community-student alliance won this stage of the struggle.

“The incredible turn out at the March 31 rally and march, the complete shutdown of the university on April 21 because of the undergraduate boycott and GEO walkout, the teach-ins, grade-ins, carol singing and bombarding of Chancellor Lombardi, and many other contract campaign events have all paid off, and allowed us to reach a tentative agreement with the university today over the terms of a new contract,” declared GEO in an email to its approximately 2, 400 members May 10.

If ratified by the membership, the contract will be signed by designated union and administration representatives and forwarded to the state legislature for approval. If approved by this body the contract then goes to the Massachusetts Governor, currently Mitt Romney, for signature approval.

The tentative agreement gives the union a two percent raise during each year of a three-year contract that covers July 1, 2004 to June 30, 2007. The sides reached agreement on health fees and child-care fees, which before the massive protest action’s, the administration demanded major concessions.

And despite a bigoted attack on same-sex domestic partner health benefits that the administration wanted to abolish, GEO refused to be divided and kept this hard-won concession. A memorandum of understanding also guarantees that the current funding of $800,000 for recruitment and retention of ALANA (African/Latin@/Asian/Pacific Islander/Native American) students continue through fiscal year 2007.

“We believe we've reached a fair contract that enhances our members' standard of living,” said Jen Turner, GEO president.

Before the tentative agreement was reached, GEO had planned to picket the inauguration of UMass President Jack M. Wilson in Boston May 12 and teaching assistants planned to withhold grades at the end of this semester. Many GEO members still participated in an informational picket at Wilson’s inauguration with the largely undergraduate Take Back UMass coalition that chartered two buses to the inauguration. The student-worker coalition members distributed leaflets protesting the administration’s plans to strip undergraduate student organization’s independence by placing them under a administration-controlled Student Center.

-- 30 --

For previous Boston IMC coverage see
http://boston.indymedia.org/feature/display/34745/index.php
See also:
http://www.geouaw.org
http://www.takebackumass.com

This work is in the public domain.
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This sounds very twisted to me. What about the STUDENTS?
17 May 2005
"The tentative agreement gives the union a two percent raise during each year of a three-year contract that covers July 1, 2004 to June 30, 2007. The sides reached agreement on health fees and child-care fees, which before the massive protest action’s, the administration demanded major concessions."


So, you organized this protest and Union strongarm tactics in order to increase your salaries and benefits, regardless of the financial health of the District or its studen's needs? Lets see....how did you put it?:

" enhances our members' standard of living" (referring to the GEO members).

What about enhancing the learning environment of the students which attend UMass? Isnt this contract going to force the school to sacrifice in "other areas" in order to pay the ransom your group has demanded? Do you feel that the concessions of the administration were arbitrary? Is it POSSIBLE that the administration had earmarked funds for long range programs FOR THE STUDENTS benefit?

To me, your actions seems very self-serving, and since you are already graduates, I fail to see how any of this benefits the students. Would you care to respond to that?
Re: Graduate student-workers at UMass-Amherst win tentative contract agreement
17 May 2005
a 2% per year raise will probably not keep up with inflation leading to a decline in real earnings over that period. Of the last 5 years only 2002 had <2% inflation and that was at 1.59% hardly stufifng their wallets there.
see:
http://inflationdata.com/Inflation/Inflation_Rate/CurrentInflation.asp

I don't know the details of the health and childcare "concessions" but if they're as meager as the per annum raises it's the least they can do.
Perhaps, Jon...but isnt this a little suspect?
17 May 2005
Do you know what the UAW is?

The International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW)

So, just HOW are the interests of the students or the University, or even the FACULTY of that University (which is not comprised of the Graduate Employee' Organization [GAO])? This really stinks now. The Unions are no longer a force which protects employees in their career choices. Now they have amalgamated into the biggest gang in the United States.

Here we see that The International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW) have ganged up on this University to demand a ransom "or else".

Ghastly.
Re: Graduate student-workers at UMass-Amherst win tentative contract agreement
17 May 2005
I think you're fishing. The labor agreement as stated seems reasonable, modest even. I have much better medical coverage and in all the years I've worked can't remember getting less than 2.5% in an annual raise, typically more.

This agreement is by no means sticking it to the university http://www-unix.oit.umass.edu/~geo/gp/tent.html

The state of organized labor in the US is a tempting tangent, but not relevent to this story.
Fishing, huh? I dont like the idea of a Union using strong arm tactics at a university.
17 May 2005
"A heartening and powerful labor-community-student alliance won this stage of the struggle."

Whose struggle? In deference to your statement about the relevancy of Organized Labor in this thread, lets talk about WHOSE "struggle" he is talking about, okay? What is this article telling us? To me, it says that the Unions are the good guys, and the university is the bad guys. It is boastful about the prowess of itself. What about the STUDENTS? What benefit do they get from this "powerful labor-community-student alliance"?
Re: Graduate student-workers at UMass-Amherst win tentative contract agreement
18 May 2005
I don't know about U Mass, but most grad schools include tuition in the grad student compensations.

So, a MIT student's monthly take-home stipend might be $1800 a month for 9 months of the year, but they're also getting compensated with a $30,000 tuition. Plus health care coverage, and if they're lucky, subsidized housing.

It's not a bad deal. People in the humanities might have it a lot worse, though.