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From: "James A.W. Shaw"
Sent: Thursday, February 01, 2001 7:21 PM

Subject: URGENT Bulletin: Admin wants to GUT GEO/UAW contract

Dear Colleagues,

We are under attack. Late this afternoon, the union received (via hand delivery) the changes the university has proposed making to the GEO contract. With their proposal, university administrators do not make even the slightest attempt to improve the lives of hard-working graduate employees. They are out simply to gut the contract, to eliminate our rights, to cut our pay, to reduce our health care, and to destroy diversity.

The university administration is out to cripple our union! (The full text of Susan Pearson's letter follows at the end of the e-mail if there are any doubters.) I am sending this e-mail to union officers, activists, recent membership meeting attendees, and activists from other on-campus unions. (I crossed some e-mail lists in my address book, so if you get this more than once, I'm sorry for the double trouble.) We will be looking to alert the entire GEO membership tomorrow when action is planned.

The administration wants to take union rights away from of our membership. They have proposed excluding research assistants (RAs) and assistant residence directors (ARDs) from the union. That's about 1,200 members--most of whom who are full dues-paying members of GEO!! In terms of RAs, they will try to exploit weaknesses in the hard sciences especially through the intimidation of international students.

The division of housing has been a nightmare for ARDs. Housing is actively trying to exploit our members there (through unjust terminations, intimidation, neglect and the like.) GEO has filed more grievances on behalf of ARDs than for any other type of worker combined. The university's response to this tirade of injustice? Try and shred what rights remain.

They also want to cut our stipends. Although they didn't propose decreasing our hourly rate, they proposed to stop paying us for vacation over the Winter Intersession and Spring Break. That's the equivalent of a 10 to 15% pay cut.

They want to cut health care. They are gearing up to try and impose higher copayments while providing fewer services. (Two years ago, Sue Pearson expressed her disappointment that she couldn't achieve these cuts in our last negotiations.)

They want to cut funding for the recruitment and retention of ALANA students and members of other underrepresented groups. Right now, MOU#6 of the GEO contract guarantees $705,600 in funds to further the cause of recruiting and retaining those students who have been historically excluded from higher education generally and UMass specifically. At this time, perhaps more than at other times, we need these funds to increase.

They want to cut back on child care and family issues. They proposed eliminating the position of Family Issues Advocate, which is a GEO position funded by UMass, and one of the only people paid to be on campus and fight for the rights of graduate students and their families. They also proposed eliminating all guarantees around the Affordable Flexible Childcare Center, which provides subsidized childcare to low-income student parents so the university can proceed cutting child care. Currently, the need for affordable childcare is going unmet. Simply put, we need more, not less.

They want to renegotiate the amount of money that we will receive ("if any," Pearson writes) for professional development--effectively another pay cut.

They want to cut back the number of GEO staff that represent the members. Now, the university funds four positions for graduate students to work for their union and to represent the membership. They are there to preserve and expand our rights--an increasingly difficult task given the university's constant union-busting onslaughts. The university wants to reduce the number of GEO staff and impose an eligibility criteria that would exclude most of our members from ever serving their union for pay.

But we must fight back and we will. We will fight hard for all that we need. We are committed to improved job security, higher wages, better protections for intellectual property, building affordable housing, recognizing instructors who teach in Continuing Education, increasing campus diversity, securing optical care and more. These are the simple basics that every worker deserves.

We must act together and be strong. Not only GEO members, but members of all of the unions on campus. Our struggle is a common struggle. Tomorrow (Friday), we hope to have more details about an important all-campus strategy session and a rally to present demands of the members of GEO/UAW. Thank you for your time, and we look forward to your contribution to the struggle ahead.

In Solidarity,

p.s. Below is a copy of Susan Pearson's disgraceful letter. Do not hesitate to share it. We must shine a light on this injustice.

James A.W. Shaw
Graduate Employee Organization
Local 2322, United Auto Workers
University of Massachusetts, Amherst

413-545-5317 (phone)
413-545-1457 (fax)

-------------------------------------------------------------------- January 31, 2001

Mr. Peter Tamas
Graduate Employee Organization/Local 2322/UAW
Box 31212
Campus Center

Dear Peter:
In accordance with Article 53 of the Agreement Between the Graduate Employee Organization/Local 2322/UAW and the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, the University administration hereby submits the following proposals for changes in the Agreement. In each instance, additional details about the changes proposed to the articles cited will be provided during negotiations. In addition to the specific proposals below, we propose correction of dates and untimely references throughout the Agreement, as appropriate. We propose that all other provisions of the Agreement and associated memoranda of understanding remain unchanged.

Article 1, Recognition: We propose the exclusion from the bargaining unit of Research Assistants and Assistant Residence Directors.

Article 2, Definitions: We propose the addition of definitions of "waiver," "exemption," and "full-time."

Article 3, GEO Security: We propose the deletion of the provision requiring that dues or agency fee deduction forms be appended to appointment forms.

Article 4, Time Off for GEO Business: We propose amending this article to require that individuals who are granted released time have other appointments which qualify them as members of the GEO bargaining unit. We propose a reduction in the amount of released time provided.

Article 8, Access to Space Usage: We propose the deletion of the requirement that the University provide mobile parking decals to GEO.

Article 11, Consultation: We propose the deletion of the requirement that the University pay for or provide mailing to graduate student employees.

Article 12, GEO Orientation: We propose revision of the provision for new employee training.

Article 17, Sexual Harassment: We propose revising the reference to the University Sexual Harassment procedures to reflect the University's intention to modify those procedures.

Article 24, Professional Development: We propose renegotiation of the amount to be provided, if any.

Article 32, Stipends: We propose renegotiation of the amount to be provided and the terms governing its distribution.

Article 35, Health Fees: We propose renegotiation of the health coverage and payment provisions and renegotiation of the health and welfare trust fund provisions.

Article 37, Vacation: We propose the elimination of vacation time for graduate student employees on academic-year or one-semester appointments.

Article 39, Family Issues: We propose the deletion of the section entitled "Family Issues Advocate" and renegotiation of the provisions of the section entitled "Child Care."

Article 41, Timeliness of Pay: We propose the revision of this article and other provisions of the Agreement, as necessary, to reflect the University's plans to adopt new administrative computing and payroll systems, which will result in such changes to business practices and procedures as conversion from a weekly to a biweekly payroll system and may require universal electronic transfer of salary payments to an account or accounts selected by each graduate student employee.

Memoranda of Understanding: We propose the deletion of memorandum of understanding #6.

We look forward to beginning our discussions of February 27. The Whitmore Boardroom is available at 10:30 a.m., and we have scheduled it from then until 3:00 p.m.

/s/Susan Pearson
Susan Pearson

Cc: Provost Cora Marrett
Dean Lee Edwards
Dean Charlena Seymour
Professor John Donoghue
Josh Kroner
Mary Jane Quinn

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