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News ::
35 union supporters arrested at UMass Amherst
01 May 2002
Modified: 01:43:38 PM
35 union supporters were arrested at UMass Amherst on Monday 4-29 during a non-violent sit-in in support of union recognition for the undergrad RA union.
UMass Amherst chose to arrest 35 union supporters
yesterday, and today suspended the 6 undergrads who took part. This results in
them losing their jobs, their housing, their course credits for the semester,
and several won't graduate. The sit-in and rally that prompted the arrests was
around a simple issue: on March 5, undergrad resident assistants voted 138-88
to join the UAW Local 2322. The University has refused to bargain, dismissing
the MLRC decision and breaking the law.


Dear All,
Here is the latest news: the undergraduates who were arrested
yesterday have been suspended from the University and barred from the
University campus. That means they lose all academic credit for this
semester, their housing, their health care, and if they are RA's, their

This is an outrageously harsh punishment for non-violent civil
disobedience in protest of the University's own illegal actions. This is
a much, much harsher punishment than that dealt out for drug, alcohol, or
other offenses.

Graduate students have not yet heard from the University--their
registration is handled by an office in the graduate school, not in the
Registrar's office. There is no reason, however, to believe that they
will not receive the same punishment. (Among others, those graduate
students include our own Alex Betancourt-Serrano, who will presumably no
longer be allowed to teach our Junior One seminar.

Students are entitled to a hearing after their suspension, and the
first hearing will take place at 10:30 tomorrow morning. It would be
very helpful if you could PHONE AND E-MAIL YOUR PROTESTS to the
administration, before and after 10:30 tomorrow.

I think e-mails and calls should go to Acting Chancellor Marcellette

Williams, 545-2211, mwilliams (at), Javier Cevallos,

545-2333 and cevallos (at), and Dean of Students
Jo-Anne Vanin, 545-2300 and vanin (at)


If you have any other ideas for interventions, please let us all

In solidarity, Sara

UMass sit-in ends with 34 arrests

Resident assistants press labor dispute with administration

By Andrew C. Helman, Globe Correspondent, 4/30/2002

group of 34 students and union activists were arrested at the University of
Massachusetts at Amherst yesterday after they staged a sit-in to protest the
school's refusal to bargain with the fledgling resident assistants union, said
Barbara Pitoniak, university spokeswoman.

At 12:30 p.m., 15 protesters swarmed into the office of the vice chancellor for
student affairs and another 75 pickets gathered outside the administration
building, university officials and students said.

The protesters were trying to force the university to bargain with the 360-
member resident assistants union, which became the first of its kind in the
nation when it formed in March.

The university maintains that RAs are an integral part of the education process
and should not be unionized.

Yesterday as protesters chanted ''union power, union power,'' and vowed to
occupy the vice chancellor's office until the university submitted to their
demands, police moved in.

Fourteen of the 15 went limp, forcing police to remove them on stretchers,
according to university officials.

As police brought the protesters onto a bus, another group sat in the road,
locking arms and blocking the way.

Police made 19 more arrests. Those arrested are expected to be charged with
trespassing and resisting arrest, said UMass police spokesman Jim Lyons.

''We are sitting in here for our own beliefs, I guess, until either the
university bargains with us or sets a date to bargain with us or until the
police come in and take us out,'' said Angela Zammarelli, 20, a junior resident
assistant reached by cellphone during the sit-in yesterday.

''It's sad that in a time that they are cutting different departments on campus
they are spending money fighting the union.''

Union members filed 13 unfair labor practice charges against the university
last month, one of which sought to force the university to bargain with the
group. While the Massachusetts Labor Relations Commission reviews the charges,
university officials have said they will not bargain with the union regardless
of the commission's ruling.

''As you know the university has taken a position on this and has refused to
bargain,'' Pitoniak said.

This story ran on page B2 of the Boston Globe on 4/30/2002.

More RA stuff:
Photos from the RA rally 4-8-02
See also:
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more info
01 May 2002
please add information as to why umass protesters are so upset with RA policy. if people know the grievances that led them to this action, then maybe we can be better prepared to intervene.