On June 17, 2020 the Board of Higher Education rejected our one-year proposal. See the Board’s letter here. Their letter was accompanied by their financial analysis of our proposal. (The MSCA disputes this analysis and will be conducting its own.)
Department of Higher Education’s response to the MSCA’s proposal on a two-year extension of the day collective bargaining agreement.
Upcoming Bargaining Dates:
July 20 (12:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.) – To be held virtually using Zoom.
August 4 (12:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.) – To be held virtually using Zoom.
August 20 (12:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.) – To be held virtually using Zoom.
June 17 (12:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.) – held virtually using Zoom
May 14 (12:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.) – canceled by management
April 27 (12:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.) – held virtually using Zoom
April 14 (12:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.) – held virtually using Zoom
March 19 (4:00 – 8:00 p.m.) – canceled by mutual agreement
March 9 (4:00 – 8:00 p.m.) – Worcester State University: Foster & Fallon Rooms
Upcoming meetings for the foreseeable future will be virtual using Zoom: If you are an MSCA union member and wish to be considered a silent representative, you must email the MSCA webmaster and let him know which chapter you are a member of. Your identity will be verified prior to letting you enter the meeting. There shall be no recording of the session. Massachusetts is a two-part consent state and recording without the consent of the BHE and the union is illegal.
Changes to Evaluations (June 17, 2020)
Changes to Post-Tenure Review (June 17, 2020)
Changes to Duration and Extent (June 17, 2020)
Wellbeing (April 14, 2020)
Committee to look into student evaluations (April 14, 2020)
Scheduling (April 14, 2020)
Academic Administrators (April 14, 2020)
Anonymous Complaints (March 9, 2020)
Article II (Mandatory Training) (March 9, 2020)
Bargaining Update – 5.14.20
I write to inform you that the bargaining session scheduled for Thursday, May 14th has been cancelled by management. Our bargaining committee is deeply disappointed with this decision. The Council of Presidents’ representative sent a letter informing us of this decision on May 7th, which you can read on our website along with our response.
The team met on May 9th to discuss the letter and craft a response that was sent on May 12th. At this point there are no other meetings scheduled. We will inform you as soon as possible when this changes.
Without question, we have a number of concerns about this decision. Their pressure to push bargaining into abeyance, their direct communication with our members suggesting a unilateral abeyance, and now this cancellation of the only meeting scheduled feels like an attempt to dictate and control the bargaining process. At the heart of a union is the legal obligation for management to bargain. We cannot help but feel like these efforts are an infringement of that very right.
If you are interested in reading more about our concerns with the most recent letter and decision, you can do so below.
The Bargaining Team
As we noted in our response letter, “incremental cost items” (such as salary increases), require state appropriation and therefore are subject to approval by the governor and the Legislature. We intentionally crafted out proposal for a one-year contract extension to contain no incremental cost items. We have consistently negotiated contracts that contained non-incremental cost items that have some financial implication without these being subject to approval by the governor and Legislature. The COP’s letter is concerning in that they seem to suggest that they are unable (or unwilling) to negotiate ANYTHING, as they claim that everything has a “financial implication.” It is unclear to us at this point whether this means the COP does not have the authority to bargain or if this is an attempt to stall the bargaining process. We are hoping they will provide some clarification about this soon. If the DHE is requiring that anything with any financial implication be approved, then we wonder if that means the DHE is also scrutinizing ALL spending on our campuses. Are new administrative hires receiving the same scrutiny? Are they examining paper, pens, and other supplies being purchased at our schools? What about campus-grants or other one-time expenditures? It would be useful for us to know if this is the case.
The cancelling of this meeting means that the COP is now in violation of our agreed-upon ground rules. Those rules state that we must have three meetings scheduled at any time. This was an important rule our team insisted upon to encourage a more timely process than we witnessed in the last negotiating round. While we have sent additional dates for management’s consideration, at this point they have failed to respond with any additional meeting times. They note a desire to re-negotiate the ground rules, but without a meeting date that is impossible. It is hard to feel like this refusal to meet is anything more than the same foot-dragging we have witnessed before.
The COP also raised objections to the composition of our bargaining team. As you may recall, we informed management at the beginning of the negotiating season that our team would consist of our core bargaining committee as well as silent bargaining representatives drawn from our membership. These representatives play a valuable role for our team by providing immediate feedback to the committee about what is happening at the table and by helping us to communicate about negotiations to our larger membership. In addition, this team provides our union with the opportunity to create more awareness and education among our membership about our union and its role. We have solicited participation from our membership in the same way for each of our bargaining sessions, without any previous objections from management. So, for management to raise objections only at this point is concerning. Since the inclusion of silent bargaining representatives has not hindered the bargaining process in any way, the objection seems to be an attempt to limit our members from participating in the bargaining process. Such opposition to transparency does not embody the collaborative spirit that management has been claiming is in its interest this negotiating season.
Finally, we want to briefly point out that the suggestion made in the letter to address issues at the ERC (Employee Relations Committee) is misplaced. The ERC is identified in the contract is charged with addressing interpretations of contract language or settling disagreements or grievances related to the language of the contract. It does NOT have any authority to negotiate new language, to change existing language, or to extend the contract. While we are able to suspend certain contractual provisions via the ERC, we cannot address many of the most pressing issues that face our membership right now through this body. Moreover, the ERC, while made up of representatives from management and the union, is a limited body. In addition to our local president, there are only two other union representatives on this committee. The bargaining team is made up of members from all nine state universities. Given that circumstances at these institutions are often different and that we need to be able to understand the ramifications of decisions in their effects on each campus, having a broader base of voices is essential. For these reasons the push to use ERC makes very little sense.
As mentioned above, the right to negotiate contracts is at the very heart of what a union is about. It is the requirement for management to meet us at the table that provides us with some power over our working conditions. It is hard to see management’s recent moves as anything other than an attack on our very right as a union. We know that this semester has been an amazingly difficult and trying one for you. But now is not the time to rest. We need all of our members to help us in this moment and to speak up for our union and our rights as union members! We will be in touch again soon.
Bargaining Update 4.27.20
The bargaining team met with management yesterday at noon via zoom. We had 71 Silent Bargaining Representatives who joined our meeting. We were able to gain valuable insight and perspective from these members during our caucus sessions which helped to inform our bargaining committee in our decision-making. We would like to extend a thank you to those of you who were able to join us.
At the meeting we addressed the request put forward from management to place bargaining into abeyance. While the team seriously considered this request and the letter from the Department of Higher Education that accompanied it, we ultimately decided that abeyance was not in the best interest of our members at this time. We fully recognize the uncertainty of the economic situation we are all facing and that the Council of Presidents will likely not have a clear understanding of economic parameters for some time. Nevertheless, the bargaining team feels that there are a number of important language and workplace issues that are worth negotiating, particularly to provide some modicum of assurance to our faculty and librarians during this uncertain time.
To that end, the bargaining team offered a proposal for a one-year contract (2020-2021) that contains no incremental cost items and that limits language proposals to those most imperative to our current crisis situation. Our decision to not include any incremental cost items was informed by the letter from the DHE, the recognition of our collective economic situation, and our goal for a quick agreement from management. It is our hope that management will recognize the benefit of such an agreement in helping to bolster and preserve the morale of our faculty and librarians.
Management did not offer any additional proposals at the table. However, they did raise concerns about the structure of our bargaining team. While we did have a significantly larger number of silent bargaining representatives join us, the nature and process of our team did not change at all from how we have engaged in bargaining this season. We informed management at the outset of bargaining that our team would consist of a core bargaining committee as well as silent bargaining representatives. These representatives are union members who provide us with an important opportunity to hear directly from our faculty and librarians about what is happening at the table. This transparent process and team structure has helped us to ensure that our bargaining committee clearly understands the needs of our members and that our members understand the work of our union. Furthermore, we fail to understand how the inclusion of our silent bargaining representatives creates any disruptions or disturbances for the bargaining process as deliberations, caucuses, and the sharing of proposals can all occur in the same manner as has happened previously. We certainly hope that management recognizes the benefit of such transparent negotiations and appreciates our legal right to define our bargaining team as we see fit.
Our next bargaining session is scheduled for May 14th from 12:00-4:00 via zoom. As in the past, union members are able to participate as silent bargaining representatives. If you are interested in participating we ask that you contact our webmaster, Chris Gullen at email@example.com no later than 5:00 pm. on Wednesday, May 13th. We need time to ensure that those requesting entrance are union members and time to provide the zoom information before the session begins. Please also note that there is a cap on the number of individuals we can include in our session. We will accept members on a first-come, first-serve basis for entrance into the meeting and inform any members if there is no longer room available. Members should also know that it is expected that you will remain in both audio and video mute during bargaining, with the exception of caucuses. You should also plan to sign into the zoom session using your first and last name so that we can easily identify you. If there are any questions about this or the bargaining process, please feel free to reach out to our bargaining committee.
The team met at Worcester State on March 9th from 4:00 to 8:15pm. In addition to our core bargaining committee, we were joined at the meeting by two silent representatives – both faculty members from Worcester State University. Management was represented by their legal counsel, the executive officer for the CoP, a representative of the BHE, and one representative each, from Bridgewater State University, Worcester State University, and MCLA.
Our committee offered our first set of proposals to management. Together these broadly addressed issues of faculty/librarian voice and shared decision making. In our survey and other feedback opportunities, members identified significant concerns about the diminishing voice of faculty/librarians on our campuses and the desire to ensure faculty/librarian participation in the direction of our universities. This was noted as particularly important given issues with enrollment and other uncertainties currently facing higher education. The contract already identifies the important role that faculty/librarian expertise should play in decision-making processes. These proposals were meant to strengthen that commitment. They included smaller suggestions, addressing limitations on the use of “interim” academic administrators, to larger issues such as creating a budget standing committee and an evaluation system for academic administrators. You can read more about these proposals on the MSCA website.
Management also offered their first set of proposals which are also posted on the MSCA website. These were focused on Article II and Appendix R (Policy on Handling Anonymous Complaints).
Financial parameters were not shared with us on Monday. Management stated that they were still awaiting clarification about these.
Our next bargaining session is scheduled for Thursday, March 19th from 4:00-8:00 at Worcester State University in the Fallon Room. We will share more information as bargaining proceeds.
The Bargaining Committee
Bargaining Update: February 24, 2020
The Bargaining Committee met with management on Friday, February 21st at Worcester State University. The session ran from 11:00 am to 5:00 pm. We were able to complete our negotiation of ground rules and are looking forward to beginning substantive bargaining at future sessions. We are hopeful that these ground rules may provide some structure to our sessions that will encourage a more efficient and effective bargaining season.
The ground rules and updates will be posted on the MSCA’s 2020-2023 Day Bargaining page of the MSCA website as they become available: https://mscaunion.org/2020-2023-day-contract-negotiations/.
Several MSCA union members were present and participated as Silent Representatives on our Bargaining Team. We are looking forward to continuing this structure.
Subsequent sessions have been scheduled for Monday, March 9th from 4:00-8:00pm; Thursday, March 19th from 4:00-8:00pm; and April 14th from 10:00-4:00pm. More information about location will be sent when it is available.
As always, if you have any specific questions or feedback, please feel free to reach out to our Bargaining Committee.
The Bargaining Committee
MSCA Day Bargaining Committee:
Maria Hegbloom, Chair (Bridgewater)
Aruna Krishnamurthy, Vice Chair (Fitchburg)
Sarah Pilkenton (Framingham)
Katie Riel (MassArt)
David Eve (MCLA)
Todd Hibbert (Mass Maritime)
Dan Mulcare (Salem)
Margot Hennessy (Westfield)
Don Bullens (Worcester)
CJ O’Donnell, President (Mass Maritime)
Roberta James, MTA Consultant
MSCA Day Bargaining Committee Alternates:
Irina Seceleanu (Bridgewater)
Kate Jewell (Fitchburg)
Robert Donohue (Framingham)
Graziana Ramsden (MCLA)
Joanna Gonsalves (Salem)
Nick Aieta (Westfield)
Sam O’Connell (Worcester)
New Business Items Passed at the 2019 Delegate Assembly (wording is in draft format):
#1: Resolution to Empower the MSCA through Open Bargaining
WHEREAS, Open bargaining empowers unions by allowing for active participation of the full membership in bargaining; and
WHEREAS, Open Bargaining maximizes the collective power of the union in support of contract negotiations;
THEREFORE, be it resolved that when negotiating the terms of a contract, the MSCA bargaining team must maintain open bargaining, as established in the final sessions of negotiating the 2017-20 contract; and
Resolved, That the MSCA bargaining team must not agree to any ground rules which limit the ability of members to be fully informed of all discussions and offers that take place during bargaining, nor to agree to any ground rules that limit member observation of or participation in bargaining sessions; and
Resolved, That the MSCA bargaining team will work within a frame that informs members and allows and encourages observation and, when appropriate participation in bargaining.
#2: Resolution to Empower Membership Engagement and Involvement in Developing Bargaining Proposals
WHEREAS, the active engagement of the full membership in bargaining maximizes the collective power of the union in support of contract negotiations;
THEREFORE, be it resolved that in addition to the bargaining survey, chapter membership meetings may pass resolutions on areas of the contract of concern to members. Any chapter resolutions must be submitted by the Chapter President to the Bargaining Committee by the deadline for submission of the bargaining survey; and
Resolved, that the results of the bargaining survey and any chapter resolutions must be distributed to all MSCA members via executive session presentation and be available in chapter offices; and
Resolved, that all proposals of the MSCA bargaining team must be made available to all MSCA members once they have been proposed during a bargaining session and will be posted on the MSCA website within 48 hours of the conclusion of each session; and
Resolved, that so that members may shape the content of bargaining, the sharing of MSCA bargaining team proposals and summaries of bargaining sessions will also include an online form or other mechanism for membership to give feedback to the entire bargaining team.
The MSCA Day Bargaining Committee is making campus visits during October. Please try to attend a session at your university.
|Framingham||October 7||McCarthy Center 309 aka Alumni Room||1:30 – 2:30|
|MassArt||October 9||DMC Building, Huntington Studio||4:00 – 5:30|
|Salem||October 15||3:00 – 4:00|
|Fitchburg||October 15||Hammond G11||3:30 – 4:30|
|Salem||October 16||1:30 – 2:30|
|Salem||October 16||3:00 – 4:00|
|Bridgewater||October 16||RCC – Small Ballroom||9:00 – 10:30|
|Bridgewater||October 16||BUR 123B||1:30 – 3:00|
|Bridgewater||October 17||RCC 202||1:00 – 2:30|
|Westfield||October 17||Scanlon A||2:00 – 3:30|
|Westfield||October 23||Scanlon A||1:00 – 2:30|
|Worcester||October 22||1:30 – 2:30|
|Mass Maritime||October 23||Faculty Lounge||4:00 – 5:00|
|MCLA||October 24||Faculty Center, Bowman Hall||12:00 – 1:00|
|MassArt||October 29||5:00 – 6:00|