Agreement Reached Between UMass Amherst Administration and GEO

AMHERST, Mass. - The University of Massachusetts today announced that an agreement has been reached with the Graduate Employee Organization (GEO/Local 2322/UAW) on a new contract. The new contract must be ratified by the GEO membership and approved by the University’s Board of Trustees before taking effect. Its provisions include stipend increases, legal recognition, child care, diversity, and health care.

In announcing the agreement, Chancellor David K. Scott said, "We are pleased that an agreement has been reached which allows the University to receive a state appropriation to cover the costs of future negotiated stipend increases and does not involve the allocation of any University funds beyond what we had previously proposed. We are particularly pleased that graduate students will now receive precisely the increases we had previously proposed and announced two weeks ago, and that departments can begin recruiting at more competitive stipend levels."

Associate Chancellor Susan Pearson, who served as the University’s chief negotiator, expressed her satisfaction with the agreement as well. "When we began negotiations," said Pearson, "our principal goal was to bring the relationship between the University and GEO within the confines of state law. We are pleased that we were able to achieve that goal and reach an agreement consistent with the proposal we had previously made."

DETAILS OF THE AGREEMENT

To: Campus Community

From: Susan Pearson

Re: GEO Agreement

Date: March 2, 1998

I am happy to report that we have now reached agreement with the Graduate Employee Organization (GEO/Local 2322/UAW) on a successor contract. We are pleased that our differences have been resolved to our mutual satisfaction and that an agreement has been reached which includes the stipend increases precisely as we had previously proposed and described to you, and does not require the allocation of any funds beyond what we had previously proposed. The principal elements of our agreement are as follows:

Stipend Increases:

As previously proposed by the administration, the minimum fte stipend for all graduate student employees funded from sources other than grants and contracts will, effective 9/1/96, be increased from $7000 to $9000.

Additionally, as previously proposed by the administration, all graduate student employees funded from sources other than grants and contracts will, effective 9/1/97, receive an increase of $408.88 per fte. This increase will be paid to grant and contract funded individuals only if the appropriate principal investigator indicates that the necessary funds are available.

Finally, as previously proposed by the administration, all graduate student employees funded from sources other than grants and contracts will, effective 9/1/98, receive an increase of approximately $675 per fte. This increase is entirely contingent on additional, complete and identifiable appropriation by the state legislature and shall not become effective unless the appropriation necessary to fund it is enacted in accordance with Massachusetts law and allocated by the Governor to the Board of Trustees. If such funds are appropriated by the legislature and allocated by the Governor, then principal investigators will be required to award this $675 increase to graduate student employees funded from grants and contracts.

Recognition:

As previously proposed by the administration, we have consulted with legal counsel to determine the quickest and most effective way to bring GEO under the aegis of the state collective bargaining statute. As a result of counsel''s advice, we have agreed to a voluntary recognition process which requires that we post notice of our intention for twenty consecutive days, after which, in the absence of a challenge from an alternative union, we will be able to grant voluntary recognition to GEO and our collective bargaining relationship with them will be governed by Chapter 150E of Massachusetts General Laws. Since this change in the legal status of the University''s relationship with GEO will allow GEO to collect a mandatory agency fee from all graduate student employees covered by their contract, we have mutually agreed to reduce the number of graduate student employees paid by the University who are granted released time to work for GEO from the current eight to four.

Child Care:

As previously proposed by the administration, we will, effective this fiscal year, allocate $100,000 a year to help meet the child care needs of undergraduate and graduate students. Additionally, as previously proposed by the administration, if the FY99 stipend increases are appropriated by the legislature and allocated by the Governor as described above, we will increase the allocation for child care to $300,000 in FY99. Lastly, as previously proposed by the administration, we have agreed to the creation of a committee comprised of undergraduate and graduate students, GEO representatives, and administrative representatives to advise us on the best use of those funds.

Diversity:

Because GEO is a union which represents graduate student employees, and is explicitly prohibited from negotiating about matters which concern graduate students in their relationship to the University as students, the University''s recruitment efforts and allocations for fellowships will not be addressed in the GEO contract. Nonetheless, as previously proposed, we have agreed to address these issues in a binding memorandum of agreement with GEO.

As previously proposed by the administration, we have agreed to maintain the current level of funding ($340,000) to the Graduate School for diversity and have agreed to the allocation to the Graduate School of an additional $100,000 a year for each of the remaining two years of the GEO contract for efforts to enhance the diversity of the graduate student body. Additionally, as previously proposed by the administration, if the FY99 stipend increases are appropriated by the legislature and allocated by the Governor as described above, we will increase the allocation to the Graduate School to $300,000 in FY99, for a total allocation of $640,000.

Finally, the Graduate Dean, as part of her Strategic Plan, is appointing a development officer for the Graduate School, whose responsibilities will include attempting to attract private funding for fellowship support. This position, which has been a part of our campus plans for two years, has the fortuitous ancillary benefit of responding to GEO''s proposal for a $2,860,000 increase in the allocation to the Graduate School for diversity.

Health Care:

We have agreed to a GEO proposal for dental and optical insurance fully paid by graduate student employees; there has been no agreement for the allocation of any University funds for this purpose.

We are pleased that an agreement has been reached which will allow the University to receive a state appropriation to cover the costs of future negotiated stipend increases and does not require the allocation of any funds beyond what we had previously proposed.

The full text of the GEO Agreement will be available upon request within a few days. If you have any questions about any of these issues, please let me know.

Susan Pearson
Associate Chancellor