The MSP is an activist union. When problems come up on campus, we mobilize our members to speak up, and we work together to find solutions. We know that our strength is in our collective action and our strong membership. We fight for “bread-and-butter” contractual issues including salary and benefits, and we also work on social justice issues that are important to our members.
Faculty and librarians are committed to our students and the wider community, and we work to make UMass the best university it can be. To that end, we advocate for public higher education at the state and national level. The MSP is committed to:
- Defending academic freedom
- Protecting faculty governance and peer review
- Standing in support of quality public education and accessible and affordable public higher education
- Supporting our immigrant communities and protecting vulnerable groups
- Promoting equity and fairness on campus and beyond
- Creating a transparent and democratic MTA union
If there is an issue that aligns with MSP's values that you would like to work on and think MSP should be a part of, contact the office to talk about starting a new campaign.
A core value of the MSP has always been the principle of faculty governance. Faculty and librarians have a crucial role in setting priorities, determining the curriculum, evaluating colleagues and administrators, and making the key decisions that affect our working conditions and our students’ learning conditions.
In the spring of 2017, following an emergency member meeting with over 150 faculty and librarians in attendance, the MSP created a new Task Force on Faculty Governance and Peer Review. We are reaching out to as many departments as possible, to gather information on tenure and promotion processes, hiring and search procedures, and other issues where peer review and faculty governance are crucial. We have also filed a formal information request with the administration, so that we have the most accurate data on tenure denials from 2014-17. MSP has filed many grievances in the past few years when the contract has been violated, and many faculty have attended hearings in support of their colleagues who have been treated unfairly.
In response to the rhetoric and policies coming from Washington, DC, the MSP began an Immigrants Rights Rapid Response Network. Our goal is to protect our immigrant faculty, students and staff from unfair interrogation, detention, or deportation. In coalition with the other campus unions and with the Pioneer Valley Workers Center, we are compiling a database of people willing to mobilize when immigrants in our community are at risk. In fall 2017 we co-sponsored a training on our campus about how to be a rapid responder in our communities. We hope to provide additional trainings for our members and will post updates when rapid response is urgent. Please contact the MSP office to sign up for our Immigrant Rights Rapid Response Network.
In 2007 MSP helped found PHENOM, the Public Higher Education Network of Massachusetts. PHENOM is a statewide advocacy coalition and grassroots network uniting students, faculty, staff, alumni, and community members from all 29 campuses in the Massachusetts college and university system.
Massachusetts has an outstanding public higher education system – but since 2001, per-student funding has been cut by 31 percent statewide. The steady stream of cuts have resulted in rising tuition rates, staff cuts, larger classes and fewer student services. PHENOM is fighting to restore state funding for public higher education and to stand up for excellence for faculty, staff, and students alike.
PHENOM has 5 key principles:
- Fully fund public higher education so it can serve the Commonwealth.
- Make public higher education affordable and debt-free.
- Make public higher education accessible to all.
- Make public higher education excellent; hire more faculty, researchers, and staff.
- Honor and expand democratic institutions of governance for public higher education, and support fair collective bargaining agreements for all employees.
PHENOM works statewide, but also through individual campus councils, including a campus chapter at UMass Amherst.
Join PHENOM by contacting Emily Steelhammer in the MSP office.
100% Membership (All In)
Over 90% of UMass Amherst full-time faculty and librarians are members of the MSP, but we want everyone to be a part of our union. The MTA is launching a statewide “All In” campaign, and the MSP is working to get 100% of faculty and librarians to join us. The goal of “All In” is to build the power we need to win the gains we believe are most important for our students and ourselves.
We need the support of everyone to reach out to our colleagues in colleges, departments, and programs all across campus. This campaign is a lot of fun – it involves social activities and getting to know your colleagues on other parts of campus. Contact the MSP office if you are willing to speak to your colleagues about the union and for more information about how how you can help with the campaign.
EDU (Educators for Democratic Union)
Educators for a Democratic Union (EDU) is a caucus of rank and file unionists within the Massachusetts Teachers Association (MTA) working to build a participatory, democratic, social justice movement in our union and communities. EDU’s members are higher education faculty, librarians and staff, K-12 teachers, Education Support Professionals, and more. EDU’s principles and beliefs include:
- To thrive, our democracy requires public, not corporate, education
- Respect and support teachers and education workers
- Poverty undermines the education of our children
- Educate the whole child, don’t teach to the test
- Race, immigration status, and sexual preference should not be barriers to education
- Free, high-quality public higher education for all
- Defend the contributions of unions, including collective bargaining
- Build a proactive, “bottom-up” and “inside-out” union with a long-range vision
- Concessions of hard won rights and benefits must be a last resort, not a starting point
Merrie Najimy and Max Page on EDU and their 2018 MTA Presidential and Vice-Presidential campaign [Watch on Vimeo]
Labor Solidarity and Coalition Work
An injury to one is an injury to all. The labor movement is based on the idea that we are stronger together. When we stand up for others, it isn’t because we are kind or selfless, but just the opposite: collective action is in our own self-interest. We become stronger by lifting up others, and the next time we need help we will know where to turn. MSP is active in several coalitions with other unions and organizations around the state. We are a key part of at least four labor coalitions:
UMass Unions United (UUU)
UMass Unions United is a coalition of the labor unions mostly affiliated with the Massachusetts Teachers Association at UMass Amherst, Boston, Dartmouth, and Lowell. Recently the coalition has been planning actions to put pressure on both the Governor's office and the UMass President's office to settle good contracts.
The UMass Amherst Labor Coalition
On the Amherst campus, MSP is part of the Amherst chapter of the UMass Unions United. Our local Amherst Labor Coalition consists of all the unions on our campus, including: Professional Staff Union, University Staff Association, United Auto Workers 2322 and AFSCME 1776. The Coalition meets about once a month to discuss issues our members are facing and how we can support each other.
Hampshire-Franklin Central Labor Council/Area Labor Federation (ALF)
The Western Massachusetts Area Labor Federation represents unions in the Pioneer Valley and Berkshires. They provide support for local unions and other organizations advocating for workers' rights. We plan to work with the ALF and with the Massachusetts AFL-CIO on media and political/legislative advocacy work as well.
State Employee Labor Coalition
The coalition of state employees, including the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), National Association of Government Employees (NAGE), Massachusetts Nurses Association (MNA) and others who represent state workers meets and plans unions' strategies to work with the governor's office to improve the salary parameters offered to state employees. This group also discusses state policies that affect state workers, including changes to the GIC health insurance plans, and political campaigns.
The MSP works with and supports many community groups and organizations doing important social, political and labor work. Some of the organizations we support are:
- Climate Action Now of Western Massachusetts (CAN) - CAN is dedicated to building a powerful climate justice movement in our region. We see this movement as essential to preventing climate catastrophe.
- Mass Divest - Mass Divest is a coalition demanding that the Massachusetts Pension Fund stop funding climate disruption by divesting from its holdings in fossil fuels.
- Massachusetts Education Justice Alliance (MEJA) - MEJA consists of students, parents, educators, community and union members who stand in support of universal, free public education. MTA is a major supporter of MEJA.
- Massachusetts Jobs With Justice (JWJ) - JWJ connects labor, community, student, and faith-based organizations and activists to mobilize around workplace and community social justice campaigns.
- Massachusetts Safe Communities Coalition - The Safe Communities Act would protect the civil rights of all state residents by making sure our tax dollars are not used to deport immigrant families or to create a Muslim registry.
- Pioneer Valley Workers Center (PVWC) - The PVWC builds power with low-wage and immigrant workers, especially food service and farm workers in Western Massachusetts. PVWC holds trainings for workers and activists, and organizes the Sanctuary in the Streets network for immigrants’ rights.
- Raise Up Massachusetts (RUM) - Raise up Massachusetts is a grassroots coalition of community organizations, religious groups, and labor unions committed to building an economy that works for all of us. RUM is focusing on passing legislation providing paid leave, a $15 minimum wage and the Fair Share Amendment.
- Science for the People (SftP): Western Massachusetts - Science for the People is an organization dedicated to building a social movement around progressive and radical perspectives on science and society. SftP is STEM workers, educators, and activists who believe that science can be a positive force for humanity and the planet.
- US Labor Against the War (USLAW) - USLAW is the organized voice within the labor movement fighting for peace and new priorities, to secure human needs and to demilitarize U.S. foreign policy.