We understand that many of you have reached out to the Salem State University administration regarding concerns that you have as a result of their unilateral implementation of furloughs. We are aware that many of you are not receiving responses, and that some of you are receiving boilerplate responses. It is clear that the administration has not taken into account the issues you are raising.
In the November 13, 2020 letter that Associate Vice President Mark Quigley sent you he stated “Please… direct any questions to Emily Topacio at email@example.com or 978.542.6026.” Therefore, that is what you should continue to do.
The boilerplate responses that the union has been copied on contain statements such as “The university and the MSCA union have an obligation to bargain over answers to questions like yours.” and “I expect the union will seek to discuss issues such as those you have raised and I hope that a mutually agreeable resolution can be found.”
Bargaining is a process where two sides engage in give-and-take to reach a middle ground on issues related to the terms and conditions of employment.
Mediation is a process where two sides attempt to reach a compromise settlement on the charge the union has filed alleging that the administration has broken the law. If the two sides cannot come to agreement at mediation, we will proceed to the investigation.
Mediation is not bargaining; the union has no obligation to bargain over Salem State University’s illegal action. That is the purpose of the charge, for the Department of Labor Relations (DLR) to decide if Salem State University has violated the law, and if so, what the remedy should be.
Many of your questions to the administration regard state and federal law. The union is not going to discuss with the administration what they need to do to comply with state and federal law during furloughs. Salem State University has a general counsel and a law firm on retainer for that.
Based on the emails we have been copied on, it appears that the administration holds the belief that the mediation scheduled for December 16th (that the DLR is requiring) will be a meeting to mediate the effects of what we contend are their illegal action. That is not the case. The meeting is to mediate the underlying issue – the illegal action, the furloughs themselves. I am not hopeful that the mediation on December 16th will be successful. The investigation (which will be held virtually) is scheduled for December 18th.