Category Archives: Local News

USA’s EQUITY & RESPECT RALLY at Summer Conference


The University Staff Association, the union representing nearly 1000 clerical and technical education support professionals on the Amherst campus and in UMass Amherst extension offices across the Commonwealth, has been in bargaining with UMass since early spring 2017.
With a contract that expired in July 2017, the USA has been bargaining for equity and respect.

What does this mean?

As a matter of equity and respect, USA members deserve better with regards to
• Family leave benefits: Classified staff have as many family obligations as faculty and professional staff, including for foster care.
• Paid domestic violence leave: Victims and survivors should not be treated differently because of job title–particularly those with typically fewer resources.
• Expanded use of Sick Leave Bank: Classified staff alone are restricted from using the bank for family illness or healthy childbirth or adoption.
• Fewer takebacks of sick and vacation time: UMass removed such takebacks from faculty tables.
• Longevity bonuses: UMass should finally have a system to recognize and reward longer service to the University.
• A higher pay floor: Increase the lowest unit pay in light of increased minimum wages and to more closely align with other UMass campuses.
• Anti-bullying initiatives and processes: Incorporate language into the contract so important protections are not at the whim of current UMass leadership.
• More confidentiality in medical matters: Minimize gossip and protect privacy, particularly for classified staff in crisis.
• Better vacation leave: The current climb to increase vacation leave to match what professional staff receive their first day is a long one in need of shortening.

The USA has another bargaining session on July 31, 2018, just days before Summer Conference. We have made some progress on some of these fronts, but without more progress on the above and a finalized, decent deal by MTA Summer Conference we will make our voices heard!

Please join USA members on Tuesday, August 7, at 12:15 PM, for a picnic and union rally on Haigis Mall at UMass Amherst (BYOL).
We hope to have a victory rally, but we are prepared to march on the Whitmore Administration Building as well! Regardless, we will use that moment to take a strong stand for equity and respect in the workplace!

RSVP here:
Box lunches will be available for all USA members who RSVP by August 1—but the sooner the better.

Click here to RSVP to the USA’s EQUITY & RESPECT RALLY at Summer Conference

Early retirement?

Posted March, 2015
Dear USA members,
The following communication was sent out by the MTA last night and as promised I am sharing it with you:
Early retirement does not cover higher ed.  We understand that Governor Baker’s Office of Administration and Finance responded to a legislative inquiry that the Governor did not intend to include higher education in his early retirement proposal.  The legislation he submitted is not a model of clarity, but is consistent with an intent to exclude employees of public higher education institutions.
GIC: The Governor is proposing to increase the premium contributions for state employees.  Currently employees hired before July 1, 2003 contribute 20% for an 80/20 premium split – next year these employees would contribute 25%.  Employees hired after 2003 who now contribute 25% would continue to contribute 25% next year.  The premium splits which apply to current retirees differ depending on the date of retirement in a range from 90/10 to 80/20.  Governor Baker proposes that employees who retire after July 1, 2015 contribute 25%, for a split of 75/25.

At this time I am not sure if making phone calls to legislators will help but I can’t see that it would hurt asking them to try to get higher ed included.  I do have a concern that jobs vacated by early retirement will not be backfilled like the last early retirement. This has created a hardship for many people with excessive workloads and stress.

I would ask folks to call or email your legislators asking them to NOT raise our premium splits.  Our co-pays and deductibles have been raised and in most cases doubled already, last week I picked up a prescription that had a $60.00 co-pay for a 90 day supply and now it has a $120.00 co-pay for the same 90 day supply.  Add to that the fact that we haven’t received our cost of living increases that were bargained in good faith and once again it feels like our new Governor wants to balance his budget deficit on our backs.

WE must fight back or they will eat us alive.  This will be a long term battle so let’s get started and let them hear from USA. When contacting legislators you can say you understand that Governor Baker is proposing to increase our health care premium splits and with the co pay and deductible changes already made you feel this is unfair for him to try to balance the state’s deficit on state workers backs.  Enough is enough!!!  if you have any questions or comments please feel free to contact me.  I am in New Orleans at a conference but I will respond as soon as I can.  Hope everyone is safe and warm back home,

In solidarity,
Donna Johnson