MSCA Board Rejects Keenan’s Deal

A Message to the Salem State University Faculty and Librarians,

As you know, on February 23rd President Keenan requested to meet with MSCA President CJ O’Donnell.

President O’Donnell agreed to meet and on February 25th Salem Chapter President Tiffany Chenault, Salem Chapter Director Amy Smith and President O’Donnell met virtually with President Keenan and Salem State University General Counsel Rita Colucci.

At the meeting President Keenan stated that faculty were aware they would be furloughed during the week of spring break, and that he was seeking flexibility on the weeks faculty could furlough.  The MSCA officers present indicated that the last written communication from Mark Quigley on December 17th stated “faculty should not furlough during the weeks of January 3 – 9 and January 10-16, 202[1] or until further notice. Likewise, librarians should not furlough until further notice.”  As far as the MSCA was concerned, faculty and librarians had received no further notice.

This dispute aside, President O’Donnell told President Keenan that if he had a proposal then he should send it in writing and that President O’Donnell would present it to the MSCA Board of Directors on March 5th for a decision.  Rita Colucci provided a written proposal on February 26th.

The MSCA Board met with MTA Attorney Laurie Houle (who is handling the MSCA’s labor charge on SSU’s unilateral implementation of furloughs) in executive session for roughly an hour.

For a number of reasons, the MSCA Board unanimously rejected President Keenan’s offer to allow faculty and librarians to be furloughed during the 2021-2022 academic year.

  • SSU has received significant COVID-19 relief funds, and now has an estimated $14 million surplus this fiscal year.
  • During the February 25th meeting President Keenan stated “It’s really not the case that we need to furlough [faculty and librarians] this year.” (President O’Donnell’s notes)
  • If SSU wants to furlough faculty and librarians in academic year 2021-2022 they would be required to negotiate that. If the MSCA Board agreed to President Keenan’s proposal SSU could furlough members next academic year without negotiations.

While we support our APA and AFSCME colleagues in their struggles during this time, we also note that:

  • Given the amount of COVID-19 relief funds SSU has received, we believe the APA and AFSCME furlough agreements (see sections 4(b)) are reopened. At this time it is unclear what APA and AFSCME employees will recoup as a result of those reopened agreements.
  • Most APA and AFSCME employees are 12-month employees; a one-week furlough is a one-week loss of pay. Faculty are 9-month employees; a one-week furlough is a one-and-a-third weeks loss of pay.  (Claims to the contrary violate the Comptroller’s policy regarding earned pay and the collective bargaining agreement.)
  • Most APA and AFSCME employees, and MSCA librarians, receive vacation leave. A furlough for these employees is effectively a reduction in annual paid vacation leave (as 100% of unused vacation leave is paid when leaving employment).  Faculty would never recover the lost pay.

It is clear to the MSCA Board of Directors that there is no financial need to furlough MSCA faculty and librarians.  President Keenan likely will claim there is a financial need, that it is only fair to furlough MSCA members (while we argue APA and AFSCME furloughs should be offset), and that the MSCA is the problem.  We believe the problem lies with the Salem State University administration.

MSCA Board of Directors:
CJ O’Donnell, MSCA President (Massachusetts Maritime Academy)
Maria Hegbloom, MSCA Vice President (Bridgewater State University)
Nancy George, MSCA Secretary (Salem State University)
Eric Weeks, MSCA Treasurer (Bridgewater State University)
Irina Seceleanu, Chapter President (Bridgewater State University)
Aruna Krishnamurthy, Chapter President (Fitchburg State University)
Robert Donohue, Chapter President (Framingham State University)
Katie Riel, Chapter President (Massachusetts College of Art and Design)
James Moriarty, Chapter President (Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts)
Todd Hibbert, Chapter President (Massachusetts Maritime Academy)
Tiffany Chenault, Chapter President (Salem State University)
Claudia Ciano-Boyce, Chapter President (Westfield State University)
Sam O’Connell, Chapter President (Worcester State University)
James Leone, Chapter Director (Bridgewater State University)
Rala Diakite, Chapter Director (Fitchburg State University)
Sarah Pilkenton, Chapter Director (Framingham State University)
Keith Washington, Chapter Director (Massachusetts College of Art and Design)
Graziana Ramsden, Chapter Director (Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts)
Raymond Lam, Chapter Director (Massachusetts Maritime Academy)
Amy Smith, Chapter Director (Salem State University)
Margot Hennessy, Chapter Director (Westfield State University)
Susan Mitroka-Batsford, Chapter Director (Worcester State University)