GEO Solidarity Statement for our LGBTQ+ Community

After a leaked memo from the Department of Health and Human Services regarding a redefinition of sex in federal law, GEO wants to share with you all this statement of support for all of our LGBTQ+ community:

The UMass Boston Graduate Employee Organization Organizing Committee condemns in the strongest terms the leaked Department of Health and Human Services memo that seeks to redefine sex in federal law as “a person’s status as male or female based on immutable biological traits identifiable by or before birth.” This definition would deny transgender people protection under federal civil rights law that prohibits discrimination the basis of sex. The proposal would limit equal access to health care, housing, education, and fair treatment under the law.  It would functionally deny many trans people documentation of their identity, citizenship and immigration status, and the ability to travel freely. For others, it would force them to choose between the life-threatening dangers of the closet and living in a state of constant exposure and vulnerability. It sends a chilling message that the existence and identity of transgender people is not recognized by the government, and deepens ongoing attacks on the civil rights of all citizens, immigrants and undocumented people. It also compounds the threats already facing unions and union members in the form of expansion of Right to Work laws and the recent Janus vs AFSCME Supreme Court ruling.

Our membership includes graduate employees of diverse gender identities. Furthermore; we, as graduate employees also serve faculty, staff and students who are also of diverse gender identities. Because of this, GEO stands for equality for all and condemns this proposed change to federal law.

The Department of Health and Human Services proposal represents a challenge to the central principle of the labor movement, that unions stand for dignity, rights and equality for all workers, as well as the defining principles of our campus community. This proposal is a threat to worker solidarity across job categories, between unions and for all genders, ethnicities, races and abilities.  We oppose the DHHS memo on the grounds that it promotes a broader context of transphobia and a climate of fear that makes our tasks of organizing and building power with our members even more difficult. As union members who fight to protect our coworkers, our families and our communities, we oppose threats to transgender people expressed in the leaked memo and stand in solidarity with all LGBTQ+ people who may be experiencing heightened stress of forms of harassment and discrimination.

 

 

 

CONGRATULATIONS TO OUR NEW ORGANIZING COMMITTEE MEMBERS: Katsyris Rivera-Kientz and Drew Bevis!

The GEO Organizing Committee wants to welcome Katsyris Rivera-Kientz and Drew Bevis into the fold! Both Katsy and Drew got elected into the GEO organizing committee in the beginning of October. We want to thank all of our members that ran and all of you who voted! We are really excited about finally being at full capacity and are looking forward to the contributions from all of our members.

 

                           Katsyris Rivera-Kientz                                                         Drew Bevis 

 

 

Candidates for Organizing Committee!

Hi folks, below (in alphabetical order) are all the candidates running for the 2 organizing committee positions we have open this year.

Voting will occur on the 3rd, 4th, and 5th of October, and will span most of the day (9am-7pm on the 4rd and 4th; 9am-5pm on the 5th) on each day. Voting must be done in person at the GEO office – Quinn – 02 – 081- and ballots will be provided by the GEO when you come in to vote.

Please read our candidates’ bios/platforms so you can cast your vote! (more…)

Action Alert – Thursday, September 20th 9:30am-11:00am

The entire campus community is invited to UMass Boston Convocation on September 20th, and we need the UMB community to stand united and stand up for our campus.

We demand that UMass leadership STOP the over 100% parking fee increase that we can’t afford and fight with us at the State House to cancel the legacy debt that has been crushing UMB for decades.

Join us outside the Campus Center Ballroom at 9:30AM on 9/20 to get instructions and an armband, and then head into the ballroom, grab some free food, and get ready to stand up and speak out to SAVE UMB!!!

There is a facebook event below that you can share to make sure we get a good turnout for this important action.

https://www.facebook.com/events/298727614251144/

 

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Upcoming Elections

The Graduate Employee Organization (GEO) is holding elections!

The GEO Organizing Committee is comprised of Graduate Assistants at UMass Boston. We work collaboratively to advocate for Graduate Employee rights on campus and enrichment opportunities for our members. Though one of the main functions of this position will be assisting in outreach to members and allies on campus in order to increase membership engagement, the duties are varied and are not strictly limited to outreach. Projects the Organizing Committee undertook this year include:

  • Writing for and editing the Graduate Advocate, our biannual publication.
  • Administering Scholarly Support Funds for students seeking funding to present at conferences.
  • Planning and hosting semester parties for members and allies.
  • Recruiting for and facilitating the Assembly of Stewards monthly meetings.
  • Developing communications content for the website, social media, and e-newsletters.
  • Collaborating with the University to address labor concerns which affect graduate employees.
  • Mediating member grievances.

This position will require a commitment of 9 hours per week starting Fall 2018 semester. Every member of the Organizing Committee is responsible for holding weekly office hours and attending weekly meetings of the Organizing Committee.

All GEO members are eligible for this positionboth PhD and Master’s degree candidates. Candidates for this position must have at least one Graduate Assistantship on campus currently and be a full, dues-paying member of the GEO in good standing.

 

Nominations will be accepted until midnight on September 14th, 2018, followed by a two-week campaign period.

For more information about the GEO, please visit our website and for updates on what we’re doing, follow us on Facebook. 

 

GEO Elections Advert - Final

Upcoming Event: GEO Fall Party!

geo_fall_party_posterWHAT: Join the GEO at Savin Bar and Kitchen for a night of grad student networking and socializing, free food, free Tshirts, and, inevitably, drinks! The event will be in the restaurant’s lower level. All graduate employees, students, friends, and allies are invited to attend. Come and meet your union, learn how to get involved, or just hang out and eat fried pickles!

WHEN: Friday, Oct.  23

WHERE: Savin Bar and Kitchen, 112 Savin Hill Avenue (across from the Savin Hill T Stop)

GEO Newsletter: Welcome Back!

Grad employees, we are in your corner!  Got problems?  Let us know!

Every year, UMB employs hundreds of graduate students as assistants on campus.  This can lead to occasional confusion, miscommunication, or even errors related to pay, working conditions, and general expectations.  While we are not your first point of contact (often your supervisor is), if you are unable to resolve situations on your own, GEO can try to help.

Last year, GEO negotiated a new contract for grad assistants on campus, and we were happy to report that this new contract provided us all a small raise in wages.  This wage increase was backdated to cover the school year, and resulted in a small lump sum that was received by most members in the spring of 2015.  It would have shown as increased pay for a single pay period but was based on the to-date annual increase.  However, we have received notice from several GEO members that they did not get the raise.  We are working to solve this issue for you as a group, rather than having each of you fight for your back-pay.  If you feel that you were not given the additional back-pay or raise that we negotiated for you, please let us know.

Another payment issue we are working on currently relates to PhD students.  Last school year 2014-2015, many incoming PhDs were notified at various employee orientation sessions that they would be receiving a bonus to be used to help support their research efforts and increase the research output of UMass Boston.  However, not all students who feel they were eligible for this bonus received it, and some got a fall bonus and not a spring bonus or vice versa.  For others, the Fall Semester portion showed on pay stubs as a $1000 bonus paid in November, which should not have happened.  We would appreciate hearing from anyone who received a Spring Semester bonus to clarify when they were paid and how they were itemized on your pay stub.  If you are a PhD student who was promised a bonus you did not receive last year, please contact us so we can work to solve these issues collectively.

If you feel you have been affected by one or more of these pay issues, we need to know about your specific complaint and get your related information as quickly as possible!  We will need your name, contact info, and both your student and employee numbers to follow up on your behalf.  If you have questions, please contact us.


 

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In October, GEO will join other unions on our campus to collect signatures for the FAIR SHARE Massachusetts campaign. The FAIR SHARE action proposes an important change in the state’s constitution affecting those who make over one million dollars by increasing their tax by 4%.  This would raise over $1 billion in new state revenue, dedicated to public schools, state university affordability, and to transportation, fixing roads, bridges and mass transit. Contact GEO if you would like to sign the petition, or to volunteer an hour during the first week in October to help collect signatures.


 

Call for Stewards

Are there employment-related problems within your department that go undiscussed? Do you want to represent your department’s interests and the interests of your peers? Are you interested in strengthening solidarity and communication between graduate programs and the GEO? If you answered yes to any of these questions, we’d love to hear from you; drop us an email at geo@umb.edu and become a steward today!

Elections for the 2015-2016 Organizing Committee

It’s time to cast your vote for new representatives on the GEO Organizing Committee next year!

Though the official election day is Thursday, April 30, for the first time, the GEO is offering early voting in order to better accommodate our members’ schedules. Starting on Monday, April 27, GEO Members may cast their vote to elect four new members to the committee. All votes must be cast in person, due to FERPA limitations.

We have five candidates to fill four vacant seats on the committee, so every vote counts!

Check out the voting info below to make sure you’re ready to vote next week.

When can I vote?

Monday: 12pm – 2pm, 3pm – 5pm
Tuesday: 11am – 4pm
Wednesday: 11am – 2pm
Thursday: 9am – 7pm

Where can I vote?

Union Office located at Quinn 02-081(A/B/C). We’re at the end of the catwalk past the library. The GEO is located in the second cubicle.

Who can vote?

All dues-paying members are encouraged to vote. Once you get to the GEO Office, we will look you up to make sure we have a record of your membership. However, because of FERPA, we don’t always have complete records, so you may be asked to show a recent paystub showing GEO dues on it (you can find your paystubs on HR direct) or you can fill out a new dues deduction form.

How does voting work?

All votes are anonymous. After we verify your membership, you will be given a ballot with the names of the five candidates. You will also be given a reference list of the candidates with their statements so that you can review what the candidates said. In order to vote, you just need to mark up to four choices for the four open seats. Ballots that have more than four selections marked will be discarded. Then just fold your ballot and drop it in the ballot box.

When will I know who won?

The new committee members will be announced at the GEO May Day Party on Friday, May 1. The party will [officially] go from 6:30-8:30pm at Savin Bar and Kitchen. The announcement will likely take place between 7-7:15pm.

Wait, so who are the candidates?

Candidates for the GEO Organizing Committee are: April Parsons, Emily Schkeryantz, Andjela H. Kaur, Chris Whynacht, and Lisa Hanson. Read their candidate statements here.

Announcing Elections for the GEO Organizing Committee

The Graduate Employee Organization (GEO) is holding annual elections to fill FOUR seats on the GEO Organizing Committee.

The GEO Organizing Committee is comprised of Graduate Assistants at UMass Boston. We work collaboratively to advocate for Graduate Employee rights on campus and enrichment opportunities for our members. Though one of the main functions of this position will be assisting in outreach to members and allies on campus in order to increase membership engagement, the duties are varied and are not strictly limited to outreach. Projects the Organizing Committee undertook this year include:

  • Writing for and editing the Graduate Advocate, our biannual publication.
  • Administering Scholarly Support Funds for students seeking funding to present at conferences.
  • Planning and hosting semester parties for members and allies.
  • Recruiting for and facilitating the Assembly of Stewards monthly meetings.
  • Developing communications content for the website, social media, and e-newsletters.
  • Collaborating with the University to address labor concerns which affect graduate employees.
  • Mediating member grievances.

This position will require a commitment of 4.5 hours per week starting in the fall 2015 semester. Every member of the Organizing Committee is responsible for holding weekly office hours and attending weekly meetings of the Organizing Committee.

All GEO members are eligible for this positionboth PhD and Master’s degree candidates. Candidates for this position must have at least one Graduate Assistantship on campus currently and be a full, dues-paying member of the GEO in good standing. Graduate employees who hold less than a full assistanship are eligible for ¼ assistantship upon election to the organizing committee. The ¼ assistantship includes a commensurate stipend, tuition remission, fee waiver, and healthcare reimbursement. Current graduate employees who currently hold full-time assistantships are encouraged to nominate themselves and, upon election, are eligible for hourly pay in lieu of an assistanship.

To apply, please complete the nomination form. Nominations will be accepted until midnight on Wednesday, April 15, 2015, followed by a two-week campaign period. The election will be held on Thursday, April 30, 2015 from 9am to 7pm and the winners will be announced on May 1, 2015 at the GEO May Day Party.

For more information about the GEO, please visit our website and for updates on what we’re doing, follow us on Facebook or Twitter . For questions regarding this position or the election process, please address questions to Joy Winkler.