Voluntary Separation Incentive Program

Dear MSCA librarians and day faculty,

Earlier this month the union was approached by the Board of Higher Education (BHE), acting on behalf of Salem State University (SSU), to negotiate a Voluntary Separation Incentive Program. 

The university claimed that the program was necessary to cover a $4.5 million shortfall in next year’s budget. The university stated that the budget shortfall was caused by a decrease in enrollment over the last several years, a decrease that has accelerated.

Negotiations were required as the program would allow payments that members would not otherwise be eligible for.  Without an agreement those payments would violate the collective bargaining agreement.

The bargaining team met with management’s counsel, a representative from the BHE, SSU Provost Silva, SSU General Counsel Colucci and SSU Chief of Staff Bryant on May 15 and again on May 22.  The terms of the program are posted on the MSCA website.

The bargaining team tried repeatedly, up until negotiations were completed, to have the program offered at the other eight universities as well. The presidents at those universities refused to allows the program to be considered, even though the program would only be offered at a university if the Board of Trustees at that university approved it being offered.

The MSCA had been able to secure that condition in all previous retirement/separation incentives we have negotiated.  The MSCA offered to extend the program to a period of three years.  The team made that offer to allow other universities to implement the program without having to negotiate another incentive should student enrollment drop and necessitate a separation incentive at other universities. Management rejected that offer.

The team would not agree to the program being offered at SSU only, unless the members from the other eight universities were given a chance to weigh in.

As a result we were able to include a provision requiring that the membership – all nine campus, one union – ratify the memorandum in order for Salem State University to be able to offer the program to MSCA librarians and full-time faculty.

The MSCA Board of Directors held a conference call yesterday afternoon to discuss the program and to make a recommendation on ratification.  This was not necessary under the MSCA’s Constitution, but I felt it was important for the Board to weigh in as well.

A motion to recommend ratification failed by a vote of 12-1.  There was no motion to recommend that the members reject the program.  As a result, the Board is neutral on whether members ratify the program.

The Board voted to hold a ratification vote, electronically, from June 10-14.  Ratification details will be posted and emailed when the logistics are worked out.

Voting will require us to email you. The only unit-wide email address lists we have are campus email addresses.  Please watch your campus email for voting instructions once we send a ratification notice.

We have been told that a program has been agreed to by AFSCME. APA is negotiating a program today. We were also told that an incentive would be offered to non-unit employees.

CJ O’Donnell
MSCA President