3/5/03 Dear USA members,

There has been much talk about Governor Romney's re-organization plans for higher Ed and what this could mean for the University. I have been working very closely with Bob Whalen our MTA Representative as well as the leadership of MTA and higher Ed to try to figure this all out. We still have many more questions than we do answers but we have received some information that I will pass along at the end of this message. I encourage all of you to attend tomorrow's Annual Meeting for the USA at noon in CC 168C where Bob and I will try to fill you all in. If you can not attend please send a representative from your department so that someone can update you. If you have any questions or concerns please bring them there tomorrow and we will try to address them. We are working on handouts for the membership that will hopefully make some sense out of all of this. So I hope to see many of you there because these issues we face could have a severe impact on us. As always please feel free to contact me if you cannot make tomorrow's meeting.

The following is one piece of information we have:


Below is a brief summary of how Governor Romney's FY04 budget proposal will impact the USA. I have also included a brief summary of some very important K-12 issues.

I. Higher Education Funding and Reorganization

Romney has proposed increasing state-employee's share of their health insurance premiums to 25%!!!

PLEASE NOTE: His proposal is VERY different from the battle we have fought in the past on the 85/15. Romney's proposal is that the Commonwealth will only pay UP TO 75% OF THE CHEAPEST INDIVIDUAL PLAN

- you will pay the rest so it could be much greater than 25%, especially if you have the family indemnity plan (one estimate is that some employees could pay 50%).
The Higher Education budget has been cut at least $156 million more!!!

Reorganization: The Romney administration has proposed a dramatic restructuring of the Massachusetts public higher education system. Details are sparse, but here is what we know.

The Romney Administration has only provided the broad outlines of this reorganization plan. The detailed plan will be released probably in late-April/early-May. Due to a procedural maneuver, the Romney Administration has forced the Legislature to take only a "yes" or "no" vote on the plan. It can not be amended or changed - it's all or nothing. (By the way, this plan was developed by a group of Romney's Bain Business Consultants. The MTA, through the Higher Education Leadership Council is submitted an information request for any and all information used by the Bain, and its report to the Governor).

II. Collective Bargaining Law

Romney has proposed some radical changes to G.L. c. 150E that essentially gut your employee rights.

  1. Definition of "Managerial Employee" and "Supervisory Employee": One change would be to re-define these two terms in such a broad way that many union members would lose their rights to bargain at all. "Managerial employees," under 150E, are employees that can not organize into a union. The current definition is limited in scope and really only applies to high level administrators. The new definition would be extremely broad. The Governor's proposal adds, for the first time, the term "supervisory employee" and excludes them from collective bargaining.
    SEIU and MSP would really feel the impact of this change.

    Many USA members could very likely lose their bargaining unit status because of the supervisory components of their jobs.

  2. Subjects of Negotiation: Romney has proposed a radical change that will gut what we can bargain over.

    Public sector unions will be able to bargain only about wages, hours and working conditions. Current language allows us to bargain over "wages, hours, standards of productivity and performance, and any other terms and conditions of employment (for K-12 that includes class size and work load)."

III. K-12

Romney vowed to hold K-12 harmless in the FY04 budgetyou decide!!!

In the coming weeks, the USA and MTA will be providing you with more details and information as we get it. We are developing a strategy and will keep all of our members posted on what they can do. This assault affects all 99,000 of our members. You can also go to the MTA website (www.massteacher.org) where there will be daily updates.

PLEASE REMEMBER: This is the beginning of the budget process. We have the power, if we all work together, to influence what happens with Romney's proposals. BUT WE WILL ALL NEED TO WORK TOGETHER.

We know that all USA members are frustrated, having fought for our contracts for almost three (3) years (not to mention the substantial budget reductions), but we will win that fight AND this is a fight we definitely can and WILL WIN!!! Your fundamental rights as a state employee and the future of accessible/affordable public higher education depend on it. INACTION IS OUR ENEMY!!

If people ask how we can ask the state to provide us with more funding when social services are in dire straits, just tell them that the state can do both. The solution is simple


In Solidarity,

Donna Johnson, President, USA

Jim Plaza, Vice President, USA

Linda Hillenbrand, Vice President-Elect, USA

Robert E. Whalen, Consultant, MTA