Daily Archives: June 10, 2024

UMass Admin Illegally Privatized Advancement, State Auditor Finds

State Auditor DiZoglio Says Even UMass Must Comply with the Law

Dear USA Members,

Over the past year and a half, the UMass Amherst administration, led by President of the private UMass Amherst Foundation Arwen Duffy and former Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy, has forced through its plan to privatize more than 100 jobs and eliminate the Advancement division. You have rallied and written letters and emails in protest of the administration’s actions, which have endangered our friends’ and colleagues’ livelihoods and retirements. Together with our siblings in the Professional Staff Union (PSU) we have rounded up support against these privatizing attacks from U.S. Senators Ed Markey and Elizabeth Warren, Congressman Jim McGovern, and state legislators including Senator Jo Comerford and Representative Mindy Domb. 

We now have this news to share: on May 31, 2024, the Office of the State Auditor (OSA) issued its final determination that UMass Amherst violated the Taxpayer Protection Act (TPA) when it privatized and outsourced Advancement operations from UMass Amherst to the private University of Massachusetts Amherst Foundation. 

The TPA, commonly known as “the Pacheco Law,” is intended to prevent private businesses from enriching themselves at the taxpayer’s expense. If any public institution is going to privatize any of its work, it must prove that the private business can provide at least the same level of service, but at a cheaper price.

USA and PSU have argued all along that UMass Amherst was recklessly rushing their privatization scheme–and now, the State Auditor agrees: “After reviewing this matter,” says the OSA’s final determination, “we are unable to determine that this outsourcing produced financial savings at a higher quality of public service.”

Additionally, the OSA found that:

  1. UMass Amherst was required by law to seek a determination from OSA prior to privatizing Advancement and failed to do so.
  2. When given a second opportunity, UMass Amherst could not demonstrate to the OSA that the privatization of Advancement produced financial savings at a higher quality of public service.
  3. The entire UMass system, including all other campuses, must comply with the TPA “in all respects,” now and in the future.

The fight to save public work and bring these positions back isn’t over, and we continue to believe that all public work should be done by public employees subject to public oversight and for the public good. 

We furthermore believe that this illegal forced privatization is part of a larger pattern of disregard for the UMass community that includes low pay, excessive workloads and bias in discipline and terminations. These are all issues which our bargaining team will address, and we know that when we stand together, we win.

We stand in solidarity with PSU who have done incredible work fighting this fight. We will have more privatization news in the coming weeks and months, so stay tuned. 

In Solidarity,

Mary Malinowski, President and Sheila Gilmour, Vice President