Workers charge UMass with attempting unlawful job cuts

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September 10, 2020




Risa Silverman, PSU Amherst Co-Chair,, 413-695-7480
Brad Turner, PSU Amherst Co-Chair,, 781-696-2014
Leslie Marsland, USA President,, 413-210-2429

Faced with the threat of hundreds of unjustified job cuts, two unions representing thousands of employees at UMass Amherst have filed charges with state labor officials, claiming that the university administration is failing in its obligation to negotiate alternatives to massive layoffs.

“UMass Amherst Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy is rushing to cut jobs when that is not necessary and will leave the university in a weakened position,” said Risa Silverman, co-chair of the Professional Staff Union-Amherst (PSU). “We have offered the administration multiple ways in which our members are willing to sacrifice, working together, to provide the cost savings that the university is demanding.”

The PSU and University Staff Association have been negotiating with the UMass administration since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, when universities across the country had to address the financial impact of the health crisis.

The PSU and USA made many sacrifices in exchange for saving jobs that the university now wants to cut.

“We have demonstrated a commitment to sharing the burden brought on by COVID-19, working as essential employees and accepting furloughs to help the university through this situation. We’re still ready to do our part and work on solutions that share the pain while keeping everyone employed,” said Leslie Marsland, president of the University Staff Association.

Recently, the UMass Amherst administration has told unions that it needs $5.2 million in concessions, which workers have offered through a combination of voluntary furloughs, reductions in hours, and early retirements. The administration has persistently failed to provide financial data requested by the unions, which want to understand the justification for the cuts.

Union leaders have said that they are willing to negotiate additional cost-saving measures, but the university is failing to meet its legal obligation to bargain in good faith.

“We have already seen the university illegally violate agreements with other workers and cut jobs that were supposedly protected in earlier bargaining sessions,” Silverman said. “We are asking Chancellor Subbaswamy to slow down, and come to the table with us to work on alternatives that keep everyone employed and keep UMass Amherst a world-class university.”