Uncategorized

GSA-GEO FALL SOCIAL

Hi everyone! We’re happy to announce that this Wednesday, October 16th, at 7pm, we’ll be holding this year’s first party! In collaboration with the GSA, we’ve set up a party–we’ll be celebrating the two new members of the GEO Organizing Committee, as well as the GSA 2019 Board!

Show up if you can! The event is at the Harp and Bard Pub in Dorchester; it’s located on 1099 Dorchester Avenue, right off of Savin Hill Avenue. If you need to get there, you can either walk to Dorchester Avenue from JFK/UMass and then down Dot ave (it’s a 10-15 minute walk), or leave from the Savin Hill T and walk down Savin Hill Avenue (it’s maybe a 5 minute walk).

We’ll see you there!

All Member Report Back!

Hello to all GEO members! 

We had a really great first All Member meeting on September 18th to kick off this semester. 

We introduced our core organizing and focus for the 2019-2020 year: Health and Welfare, discussed how better to get members involved in the union, and began to talk about what it is going to take for us to win our demands at the bargaining table this year. 

Please find the slides from the presentation here

Below you’ll find our notes and takeaways from the meeting, i.e., what we are hearing from you all and what we plan on doing about it. We want every member to get the chance to see what their has in store for the new academic year!

Health and Welfare Campaign Launch and Discussion

We pay too much for healthcare, period. The blindsiding we all experienced this summer with the almost four hundred dollar increase in our premiums is but the latest example. At the meeting, we circulated our petition (please sign if you have not already!) and spoke generally about the need to reign in the increasing cost of our healthcare. 

Additionally, we spoke about the different areas where we see possibilities to build on the benefits we already have and other benefits that we’d like to have. These include,but are not limited to: better mental health access for all students on campus, an equitable solution for those students who are parents in light of losing our on-campus daycare center, and the possibility of winning Paid Family Medical Leave (PFML) for GEO members who are new parents. 

In our discussion, we heard from members in Clinical Psychology who’ve been asked to get their own therapists on their own dime. Members raised issues with both the Vision and Dental process and cost, and another shared their story about the difficulty of affording a simple x-ray for their injured arm. While some of these issues are new, many are things we, as graduate workers and GEO organizing members, are acutely aware of and understand to be immediate 

Long story short, the message was clear: a focus on health and wellness in our organizing work this year is not only a crucial concern for all of our members, but that the time is now to work through these issues and successfully organize to win the benefits we deserve as members and workers on UMass Boston’s Campus

Member Engagement and Organizing

We heard from multiple members that, especially for international students, there is a lack of basic understanding of what the GEO actually does for its members. Despite GEO’s presence at graduate orientations (both campus-wide and program specific), we know that for many graduate workers this may be the last time they are in a room with GEO reps and other graduate assistants outside their department. Additionally, there was a fruitful discussion around the use of social media and how best we can engage with members online. 

As a direct response to these questions, we’ve begun work on a short member handbook that we can use as a tool in discussions around what GEO does and how best to get involved. We hope to get this out both digitally and in print within the month! 

Bargaining 

We had a great conversation around exactly how we, as graduate students and workers, can leverage our power as we enter the bargaining stage for our new contract this January. It is a conversation that we will return to this semester at every one of our meetings and interactions with members. 

That being said, if you are interested in getting involved and learning more about bargaining in general, we are calling on volunteers to join our Bargaining Committee! There will be more information to come, but know that this year we hope to have members from all over campus come to the table with the university to show just how much power we have. 

Getting Involved

As always, if you want to get involved or have ideas for GEO, the best way to do so is to become a Program Representative. If you do not know who your program representative is, ask! It probably means you’re department needs one. Program reps meet once a month to discuss how best they can involve all members of their program in the work of the union. It is a great way to meet other graduate students across the campus. 

We will hold our next All Member meeting in mid-October, as well as continue to send out information through the Graduate Advocate newsletter and on our social media pages. 

Please reach out to as at geo@umb.edu if you would like to learn more. And, as always, follow us on Facebook for up to date info on actions, events, and, last but not least, the Fall Semester Kickoff Party on October.

Candidacy Announcement!

Hello GEO,

We’re happy and proud to announce our candidates for this year’s election. We have two spots on the organizing committee, and six people have nominated themselves to run–it’s looking like it’s going to be a great election season.

If you want to view the list of candidates, view the file here. We’re also going to have 3 copies in the office at all times.

Voting will occur October 7th through October 10th in the GEO office in Quinn-02-081. Voting will be open to all dues-paying members between 10am and 7pm. We will have ballots and authorization forms in the office if needed, as well as the copies of the candidate list.

Additionally! We will be throwing our joint GEO-GSA Fall Party on October 16th, 7pm, at the Harp and Bard in Dorchester. While there, we’ll celebrate the semester as it’s gone so far, celebrate solidarity, and celebrate those who ran in and those who won the elections.

Happy campaigning.

Health Insurance, Information Sessions, and a Summer BBQ

The Graduate Advocate, July 1st

In case you haven’t yet heard the news…

The overall cost for the Student Health Insurance Plan is going up approximately $400 in Fall—from $2180 up to $2540. Additionally, for Graduate Employee–the University covers a percentage of our health insurance premium… but how much they cover is hard-capped at a $ amount. Every dollar of this hike is over that cap. The University is not paying a cent more… the raised charge falls completely on our shoulders. Full-time Graduate Assistants used to pay $400.

Next year, we will be paying nearly $800. For many students, that new $400 charge could go to one person’s groceries for more than eight weeks. How did something like this happen? How did it happen with so little warning? There are a lot of questions. We might have some answers for you.

On Tuesday, July 16th, at 4.00pm, in ISC 4300, the GEO is hosting an information and question session. Come join us with any and all concerns you might have.

For many students, that $400 Health Insurance charge is the price of groceries for one person for more than eight weeks.

On Tuesday, July 16th, at 4.00pm, in ISC 4300, the GEO is hosting an information and question session for graduate assistants to attend with any and all questions they might have. We’ll review the contract, your rights as a Graduate Employee on this campus, and discuss the upcoming bargaining session. But the upcost of the Health Insurance Premium has sparked this meeting… so bring any question or concern you have. We’ll see what we can do.

Afterward, we’ll be holding a BBQ at the Fox Point Pavilion to round off the evening and survive the leftover heat.

RSVP: Visit our Google Form here, or visit our Facebook Event here.

Come join us on the 16th. If you can’t make the information session at 4pm, come to the barbecue between 6 and 8. We’re happy to answer questions between bites.

The Graduate Advocate

Information About Parking Fee Increases

Hello GEO,

We wanted to clear up information about the new parking fees since they’ve already gone into effect starting January 1st.

We, as GEO members, will be paying student parking rates. If you go to the parking rates section of the University Website, you will be able to see these rates listed under Student Information (https://www.umb.edu/the_university/getting_here/parking/fees). The website lists the daily rates at both on-campus (West Garage, Lot D, Campus Center Garage) and off-campus (Bayside and other satellite) lots. There is also a short-term parking structure for the West Garage, as well as semester and multi-use passes. Semester passes can also be purchased through payroll deduction for GEO members. It should be known: with the current pricing schedule for semester passes, the semester pass will cost more than the multipass, unless you are coming to campus several days a week.

There is also important information for folks who purchased parking passes during the Fall of 2018. Because the rates listed are lower than the administration originally planned, students that purchased semester passes during Fall 2018 can have the difference reimbursed in a few different ways.

It is important to note that our contract states that if any other unit gets a better deal than us (the faculty union and both staff unions are still bargaining over parking) then we could reopen negotiations over parking even though our contract has been settled. Also, it is important to remember that interim chancellor Newman said in her last townhall meeting that if any additional revenue (such as money from the state or the UMass president’s office to cover some of the legacy and building debt) is received by UMass Boston, then the administration will lower these rates. If either of these things happen, anyone who has purchased a semester pass will get the difference reimbursed. Most importantly, if this happens, then we need to make sure that we hold interim chancellor Newman to her word.

We are still part of the parking coalition that includes PSU, CSU, GEO and undergraduate students fighting for affordable parking on campus. Make sure you pay attention to the emails we will be sending throughout the semester because even after all the contracts are settled, we will still be fighting hard to make this institution affordable and accessible for all of our community.

If you have any questions or want to get involved in the fight against higher fees and austerity on campus, please feel free to email us.

In solidarity,

GEO Organizing Committee

Winter Semester And Office Hours

Hi everyone!

This post is a quick update to keep you informed as to GEO’s availability over winter semester. While we will not be regularly in the office, we are always happy to meet; if you need us for anything, please, email us at geo@umb.edu. We can come in to meet you, discuss things over the phone, or by email.

Regular office hours will resume and be posted as we approach Spring Semester.

To all of you from us at the Organizing Committee; have a happy new year, merry tidings, and, to whatever holy days you may observe – whether you’ve already observed them, are observing now, or have yet to do so – we wish you the best of celebrations.

Best wishes,

The GEO Organizing Committee

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