Watch the Union Voice for “Bullying Training” in 2008:

Since the tragedy at Columbine High School in 1999, the issue of “bullying” and the impact it can have on the person or persons being “bullied” has gotten a great deal of attention.  But “bullying” doesn’t just happen to children on the playground or in the halls of a high school.  “Bullying” is as real, and the impact on the “bullied,” as serious in the workplace.  Fear, anxiety, physical health problems, mental health problems, productivity, stress, suicide, and taking fatal revenge are all the possible results of being “bullied.”  And, while it seem more common it isn’t just supervisors “bullying” staff.  “Bullying” can happen between USA-USA member, PSU- MSP, or USA-MSP.  When it happens, people find it difficult to reach out for help.

The USA has discussed its concerns about “bullying” at the University with the leaders of MSP and PSU, and all are in agreement that it is wrong.  The difficulty in combating “bullying” is that, often, members don’t know what resources are available to them.  It also puts the unions in a difficult position because while helping one member, the union my be subjecting another member to discipline.  The time has come for all of the unions to develop coordinated strategies to deal with “bullying” situations.

To that end, the leaders of the USA, PSU and MSP are getting together to develop coordinated training for ALL University staff, and strategies
to defuse “bullying” situations.  The goal is to provide this coordinated, multi-union training by Spring of 2008.  We will put out an announcment when the training development is complete. Hopefully, by implementing a coordinated approach, all University constituents will get the message the “bullying” is not going to be tolerated and those “bullied” will feel safe about coming forward.

President's Corner
2007 was a successful year for the University Staff Association,
we bargained and ratified a successful contract and began work
on our reclassification system.  We had several wins in the greivance
arena and we are forging new ground in working in coalition with other
unions on campus. Our members that have come forward and asked
for our assistance in upholding our contractual agreements have received
the help they need and in the cases we concluded we have upheld our
contract.  We are continuing to work on issues such as bullying and
respect in the workplace, but we still have work to do and will continue in 2008.

I continue to believe that our union can only be strong if we all work towards that end.  Issues that are clearly defined in our contract are much easier for us to identify and rectify, the issues that blur the lines are the ones that we are beginning to make progress on but we need your help. In order for our cases to be strong we need to know about what is happening in your work area.  If you have any problems or you have questions about your rights and after reading the contract you aren't sure please contact your area steward or the union office.  We can't help if we don't know there are problems. Areas like the Library, UHS, Parking, and Microbiology, to name just a few, are reaching out to the union and our presence has begun to make a difference in their workplaces. Click here to see the complete article.


Let's talk Taxes... by Aggie Mitchkoski

It's gonna be that time of year again when we need to pay our taxes. All of us are going to be looking for the largest tax return we can get and to minimize what tax we need to pay. I love getting my tax return just like everybody else but, is that a healthy way for us to think? There's a great new book out called Ten Excellent Reasons Not To Hate Taxes. It is a compilation of 16 writers who have written essays about varying reasons why taxes are a good thing and even necessary for a strong democracy.

This is an especially important topic for all of us to pay attention to especially with  Carla Howell, an American Libertarian politician. proposing the ending of state income tax in the next election.  Click here for the complete article


Eye On Patrick by Andy Steinberg
Casinos
September 17: Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick took 13 more days beyond
his self-imposed September 4 deadline to analyze whether or not to create
state resort casinos. He decided to call for competitive bidding (with special
consideration for at least one native owned casino like the Mashpee Wampanoag
Indian Tribe of Cape Cod or the Aquinnah Wampanoag Indians) for three (Boston
area, southeast MA, western Mass-Worcester) 10-year state licenses for resort casinos,
saying this auction could immediately generate at least $600 million of tax revenues.
The 3 casinos could together create 30,000 construction jobs and over 20,000
permanent jobs, and raise at least $450 million annually from their minimum 27% tax
rate. Income taxes from employees would mean another $50 to $80 million a year.
Click here for the complete article


Changes to the USA/MTA Sick Leave Bank     By Dan Kibe and Carol Ryan
Any USA member who's been around and awake probably knows that the USA/MTA Sick Leave Bank (SLB) has been chronically running short of days.  The last few years there have been mandatory donations to keep the balance up to the level prescribed in the contract.  Due to problems encountered with this process, it was decided to bargain in changes to the SLB Article (Article 10).  There is a summary of the changes found on the USA website, under "Proposed Changes to Contract for 2007-2008."

All present members of the USA/MTA Sick Leave Bank will donate a sick day every year.  This will be done in the form of 1/26th of a sick day taken every pay period.  It was felt that this would be the least painful and most efficient method of handling the donation.  USA members who currently are not members of the SLB will still have to donate a full day, and have 3 sick days accrued in order to join, because this is consistent with all of us who have already joined.  Once enrolled, new members will also donate 1/26th of a day each pay period.  Recall that the other units had higher mandatory yearly donations and for several years.  And this change was brought up by us, not management. Click here for the complete article.


WELLNESS IN THE WORKPLACE    by Linda Rhinehart Neas
Cold and Flu Season
You do not have to go far to know that we are being hit hard this year with various forms of colds,
flu, sinus infections, strep and even pneumonia. How does one stay healthy under such a constant
barrage of germs?  Regardless of what some may say, there is no "fool proof" way to avoid being sick.
But, there are ways in which we can help boost our immune system.  This is especially important if
you have an immune system that is already compromised by chronic illness of any type.
Click here for the complete article.


Vision Discount Plan Information By Linda Hillenbrand
Many of you that are on the listserv know at this point that there is a discount
plan for frames offered through Metlife.  Those of you who are not on the
listserv would have received a mailing of your new dental booklet with an
insert about the new vision discount.  As of December 31, there has been
a slight change.  The previous provider, Cole Vision, was acquired by Eyemed. 
The number that we were told to use is still valid but when you access the
information about the plan you will see a different one than was previously
announced.  For the complete article click here.

Are you considering upgrading or applying for a higher position?
Are your computer skills up to par?                                  
Should you take some classes to enhance your skill?    

Are you aware that you can take Word, Excel and Dreamweaver classes
especially designed for USA members?  The work and excel classes are
offered through LMWEP and the Dreamweaver class is taught by Pioneer                                                     
Training.  The great thing about these classes is that you are with other
USA members whose job duties are similar in nature.  This makes the
class discussions and questions much more suited to your needs.  These
specialized courses can enhance your skills both professionally and personally.                                              by Leslie Marsland
These training courses are supported by our Career Ladder money. Click here for the complete article.


out of work? Leslie Marsland
Click here for the new Notice of Injury (Worker's Compensation) form that is to be used.  Please replace any forms you may have on hand - with this one. Also click here for the 1-page "cheat sheet" for supervisors/ managers indicating what needs to be done when; and finally click here for the Form 101 that is used when someone is out for 5 or more working days.


It's Just My Opinion.... by Robin Coolbeth
WHEN IS A BENEFIT NOT A BENEFIT?                                                                    
One of the benefits of working at UMASS/Amherst bragged about often,
is the benefit of taking free classes on campus.  However, when you read
between the lines, the benefit is not as wonderful as at first glance.

Union employees can have a waiver of tuition to take a day class on campus of 100%. This does not include fees.   If you take a Continuing Education class, you would have to pay 50% of the tuition. Most departments on campus have had their staff cut to the bone because of retirements or layoffs.  When I first came on campus, taking a day class could be arranged with staff. Now, however, it is definitely not approved.  The next option is to take Continuing Education classes after work.  With the cost of tuition and fees now at the university, even paying 50% is quite a hefty chuck of money (plus fees).

Also, even if you could pay for a Continuing Education class or get the time to take a day class, you still are not guaranteed a seat in the class.  Another restriction in the small print of this benefit  is that the university will let you take the class if there is an empty seat that a bona fide full paying customer has not taken.  When do you find out if there is an empty seat - the first day of class, or the second, or the third?  All these stipulations are required if an employee's spouse or dependent children want to take courses as well.
Next time our union negotiators go to the table to hash out another contract, I wish they would make sure a benefit really is a benefit.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Such fun to play
Then 30 to the day
A winner to proclaim
Nothing wrong with mundane
Spike the benefits for those paying dues
To rid us of post-holiday blues
by Doris Goodwin
the puzzle
Solve this crossword puzzle and discover some of the thousand or more benefits offered with association dues.  Those who have opted for agency fees are not eligible to win the contest but certainly are welcome to have fun and give the puzzle a try.  Do join the listserve and become a union member to take advantage of the benefits mentioned!    Besides voting, legal representation, attorney referral services, and the security of supporting an organization which helps us balance power between the university and the individual, there are monetary savings!  Use your Benefits & Discount Directory, or if you have misplaced it, go to www.mtabenefits.com. to find the answers. 

This contest is being sponsored by New England Center for Esthetics Education and Cosmetology Education.  A premier school located at 58-76 Pleasant Street, Northampton, MA.  The entrance is located in the back of the building, and is most convenient to access by parking at the meters in the side parking lot at the Eastside Grille, which faces the main entrance.  If you are lucky you can park right in front and won't have to walk the 40 steps from the farthest spot in the lot!  For the rest of the article click here.

Comments and contributions are always welcome. Contact.....
aggie@psych.umass.edu

Stress Management Visualization.
Just in case you are having a rough day, here is a technique recommended in all the latest psychological journals. The funny thing is that it really does work.

Picture yourself lying on your belly on a warm rock that hangs out over a crystal clear stream with both hands in the cool, fresh running water. Birds are sweetly singing in the cool, pristine mountain air. No one knows your secret place. You are in total seclusion from that hectic place called the world. The soothing sound of a gentle waterfall fills the air with a cascade of serenity. The water is so crystal clear that you can easily make out the face of the person you are holding underwater.

See? It really does work. You're smiling already
submitted by Doris Goodwin
NEW MEMBERS

Robyn Deciero - UMass Ext
Brooke Yingling- Umass EXt
Laurel Kushi, Registrar
Justin Marques - UG Admission
Michelle Hauschild - Controller
Thongsy Keopanya - Fine Arts
Sherrie Yagodzinski - Cvl/Envrnmnt
Charlene Holley - School of Ed
Susan Clevenger - Chem Engnrng
Sarah Martineau - Com Srv Lrng
Alvin Holder - Housing/Residence
Alexander Renfrew - Athletics
Jeffrey Yestramski - Building Maint
Kristen Rousseau - Health Ctr
Jennifer Goodheart - School of Ed
Kelly Smiaroski - School of Ed
Jack Begleiter - OIT
Annie Alice Scaduto - Umass Ext
Sabrina Flagg - Grad Records
Mary Butler - Archeologial Svcs
Timothy Cheeks - Registrar
Sheila Rider - Financial Aid
Elizabeth Nadeau - Animal Care
Hilary Rathburn - Computer Sc
Dawn Budd - Biology
Colleen Venditti - Facilities Pl

We are very proud and excited to share with you the press release that Hanover is sending out today announcing their new competitive rates, their enhanced product, Connections Auto, and the recently approved 10% Group Discount, all of which will be offered to our members and their families.

If any of you have any questions about this announcement or are contacted by your local media, you can either refer them to us or to Michael Buckley at The Hanover Insurance Group. 508.855.3099.

MTA members interested in learning more about the association's enhanced insurance program should contact 800.908.MTAB (6822) or visit www.mtabenefits.com <http://www.mtabenefits.com/> .

For the union   by the union

University Staff Association                                      February 14, 2008
From Irene Dzioba
My tip would be to make sure you're getting enough vitamin D3 this winter.  Many reputable sources on health information think that the FDA requirement of 400 IU of vitamin D a day is far too low..  William Fallow writes in the magazine, Life Extension (www.LPF.org ), October issue, "In 1941, the first scientific study was published showing that greater sunlight exposure resulted in lower cancer mortality."  You're body makes vitamin D from sunlight and you can also get it from vitamin pills.  There is also a simple blood test that your physician can prescribe for you to be able to tell you whether your levels fall in the normal range.  Be sure about your health!   

Please note that this is intended for informational and educational purposes only and is not intended to replace consultation with a doctor.
The amount of USA/MTA dues paid in 2007 for full-time employees was $377.39. If you work 20 hours or less per week, divide that number in half.
If you haven't called your state rep yet about the proposed increase in our health insurance contribution....
what are you
waiting for?