Official Publication of the Massachusetts Teachers Association
Activism leads to progress on contracts
By Scott McLennan
S tudents, staff and faculty members put the brakes on the fall convocation ceremony at UMass Boston with a robust demonstration
against proposed parking fee increases.
While the issue of the fees has not been
resolved, the Professional Staff Union has moved
closer to setting up a way to bargain over the issue
without stalling the rest of its contract agreements,
which affect PSU units on the Boston and Amherst
Activism also helped move the imperiled
contract for the Association of Professional
Administrators in the right direction. APA President
Sherry Horeanopoulos organized a campaign in
which both higher education and preK- 12 members
sent e-mails and made calls to state legislators and
Governor Charlie Baker to demand that the state
honor a contract that was bargained with the Board
of Higher Education and has subsequently been
ratified by members.
Baker’s Office of Employee Relations had
threatened to turn back the contract, claiming that
small stipends — received by campus police officers
to buy uniforms and APA members who participate
in Massachusetts Maritime Academy training
cruises — violated financial parameters set out in
Horeanopoulos drove home the argument that
campuses, which have long covered those costs,
should not now look at them otherwise. As MTA Today
went to press, it appeared that the contract was back
on track and headed for legislative funding approval.
“The effort to apply some pressure to get the
agreement approved was a collaborative effort
among members of the APA and the Massachusetts
State College Association initially. And then MTA
members in K- 12 joined,” Horeanopoulos said.
“By far,” she added, “the most effective action
was undertaken by individual members who spoke
out on behalf of their colleagues to members of the
Legislature. The feedback from government officials
to their constituents was extremely engaging and
powerful. Above all, we kept the dialogue positive
and professional and the interaction ongoing. It was
a great effort by all.”
The debt crisis at UMass Boston remains a
multifaceted problem for students and workers. The
state has not assumed responsibility for the cost to
repair poor construction that dates back to when the
school opened. Instead, administrators have laid off
workers and made cuts to academic programs.
A coalition of union members and students
has been actively protesting at campus events and
meetings held by the UMass Board of Trustees.
But no action has been as boisterous as the one that
disrupted the Sept. 20 convocation ceremony, which
was attended by UMass president Marty Meehan.
Members of the Classified Staff Union,
Professional Staff Union and Faculty Staff Union
— along with students — gathered thousands of
signatures on a petition opposing the increases in
parking fees, which in some cases would double them.
The coalition had planned to deliver the petitions to
Meehan just before he was scheduled to speak, but
campus administrators sought to tamp down the action
by removing Meehan from the program.
That only served to exasperate the protesters,
many of whom held signs denouncing the parking
fee plan and wore red armbands to signify their
solidarity. The convocation hall erupted in chants,
which effectively stopped the program until students
were able to deliver the petitions to Meehan.
As MTA Today went to press, the PSU was close
to an agreement with UMass to continue bargaining
over the parking fee issue while having other
contract issues finalized.
Students, staff and faculty at UMass Boston brought their opposition to steep increases in
campus parking fees to the Sept. 20 convocation ceremony on the campus.
Photo by Scott McLennan
“The effort to apply some pressure
to get the agreement approved
was a collaborative effort among
members of the APA and the
Massachusetts State College
Association initially. And then MTA
members in K- 12 joined,” said APA
President Sherry Horeanopoulos.