Hope you are all doing well during this tumultuous time.
I’ve heard from a lot of FSU members in the past two weeks about a range of concerns: about how we, as faculty, can (or cannot) develop fully functional online courses within a week as our workplaces and lives are upended; about our students, who face a range of challenges as they attempt to finish the semester and keep their lives together; about our staff, who have raised serious issues around workplace safety, working conditions, and job security as we move to working remotely. The challenges are immense. There is nothing normal about this rapidly changing situation.
As many of you have noted, now is the time for compassion and flexibility – for ourselves, for our students, and for all those within and beyond the university community. It is more important than ever that FSU members remain engaged in our union and work with students as well as other campus unions — the PSU, CSU, GEO and DCU — to push the administration in this general direction. This is true regardless of the specific issues that may emerge, whether we are talking about expanding P/F options for students; extending tenure clocks for junior faculty; insuring job security for all faculty, and particularly NTTs; making sure that staff are given the freedom and resources they need to do their jobs remotely; or any number of concerns that will inevitably emerge as this fluid situation shifts.
My term as FSU President does not begin until the end of May, but I look forward to working together through and beyond this semester in order to insure that all faculty and staff remain employed, fairly compensated, and sufficiently supported; that we work under safe and respectful conditions; and that we are able to help students not only receive an education, but navigate these difficult times.
Please stay tuned for information from the FSU about how to “attend” the union’s Annual Meeting on April 30th. Although we will not meet in person this semester, this meeting remains an important chance to discuss the future of our union and university. In the meantime, I can of course be found on email!
Steve Striffler FSU President-Elect Director, Labor Resource Center
CDU supports our fellow UMB unions and would like to further publicize the below communications jointly sent out by PSU, CSU, and GEO:
Dear PSU members,
Each day brings a new challenge, and you are all rising to meet each one. That is why the email we all received from Interim Chancellor Newman last night felt so destructive and undeserved. Along with the CSU and GEO, we have responded to her (see below). And we will continue to fight for UMB to do the right thing by adopting policies that prioritize protecting all of us and stopping the spread of this virus. We, along with the other unions on campus, will be bargaining with the administration next week over these policies. We will keep you fully updated on our proposals and the administration’s responses.
In addition to fighting for health, safety and respect on this campus, unions across the UMass system are coming together to call on President Meehan and Governor Baker to do right by all working people and families across the Commonwealth. Add your voice on the Action Network website.
It is essential that none of us lose track of what is truly at stake — the millions of lives that can be saved if we #FlattenTheCurve. To do that, we need as many people as possible to stay home, we must protect all workers who cannot stay home, and we must keep our economy working by getting paid. As one economist said on a webinar today: “Our job is to stay home. And the government must make sure that everybody is paid to do that job.”
As always, we are here to support one another.
Stay safe, Anneta, Sarah, and the whole PSU crew
Letter to Interim Chancellor Newman:
Dear Chancellor Newman, We, the leaders of the UMass Boston campus unions, strongly object to both the disrespectful tone and message of the March 18 communication that you sent out to UMB staff and faculty and some graduate employees (see here). We’ve heard from many of our members who are likewise appalled by the tone and content of your email.
Not once do you recognize or express gratitude for the efforts and devotion that YOUR staff are showing during this unprecedented crisis. Not once do you express concern for the health and welfare of your employees. Instead you hastened to implement new onerous reporting procedures, and in doing so insulted our integrity and ethics. We have told you before how low morale is on this campus, and how we–the people who keep this whole institution running–feel disrespected and unheard. Your email yesterday only deepened and confirmed those feelings.
We think you should be aware and proud of how the entire UMB community has responded to this crisis. UMass Boston’s employees have worked extraordinarily hard to prepare our programs, departments, and the entire campus to weather this unprecedented storm. We have seen so many examples over the past weeks of how deeply UMass Boston staff and faculty care about and prioritize students, even at a cost to themselves. We have more than earned the trust that we will continue to do what we always do–serve the students, community and institution to the very best of our abilities.
Now is the time for you to show that you value us: prioritize our health, safety and security, rather than your productivity measures. Instruct your administration to actually bargain with our unions over how to address this national health emergency.
Chancellor Newman, we call on you to do the right thing.
Janelle Quarles, Classified Staff Union Anneta Argyres, Professional Staff Union Sarah Bartlett, Professional Staff Union Warren Hinckle, Graduate Employee Organization Chris Whynacht, Graduate Employee Organization Email from Interim Chancellor Newman