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Massachusetts Society of Professors

The Union of Faculty and Librarians at UMass Amherst


MSP at the 2017 March for Science in Boston

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:

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.

Contract Bargaining

Union members spilling out of a
packed Cape Cod Lounge at an all union bargaining update meeting Fall 2017


Contract Ratified!

MSP members ratified our new contract by an overwhelming margin on June 25th, 2018. Summaries on the changes and the new contract are below:

Previous bargaining updates for 2017-2020 Contract Bargaining: 

MSP Bargaining Team hard at work during a cacus

4/30/2018 (Powerpoint from MSP General Assembly)
3/27/2018 (Email to members engaged in contract bargaining campaign)
2/21/2018 (All unit email to membership)
9/26/2017 (Powerpoint from all union meeting)
9/5/2017 (Bargaining update from UMass Unions United)
6/23/2017 (All unit email to membership)
11/28/2016 (All unit email to membership)


Faculty Governance

Emergency faculty governance meeting following the Spring 2017 General Assembly

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.

Immigrant Rights

MSP button in support of immigrants

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.


MSP members at the Statehouse for Public Higher Ed Advocacy Day

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:

  1. Fully fund public higher education so it can serve the Commonwealth.
  2. Make public higher education affordable and debt-free.
  3. Make public higher education accessible to all.
  4. Make public higher education excellent; hire more faculty, researchers, and staff.
  5. 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)

MSP member Max Page (Professor of Architecture) runs for MTA vice-president on the 2018 EDU slate

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]

Section 60 Transfer from ORP to SERS

In 2011 the MTA won a great victory: the legislature passed a law allowing employees who were originally enrolled in the private Optional Retirement Program (ORP) to transfer to the public MSERS (Massachusetts State Employees' Retirement System).  Since 2014, after the IRS approved the transfer, two state agencies have been responsible for implementing Section 60: the State Retirement Board (SRB) and the Department of Higher Education (DHE), staff to the Board of Higher Education. Implementation has not gone smoothly, partly because the SRB and the DHE had to invent procedures where none existed, and partly because the SRB and the DHE did not have adequate resources for handling the increased workload.  Currently the most problematic aspect of implementation continues to be the transfer of ORP assets to the MSERS. MTA has been in constant communication with the SRB and the DHE about correcting errors, reminding staff about delays, insisting on equal enforcement of Section 60, calling attention to complications and offering recommendations for addressing them. MTA's role has saved members more than $100,000 in overcharges by the SRB.
The MSP has been working with the MTA to get answers to a number of questions our members have been raising about the Section 60 transfer process.  We know that many people still have not received the information about transferring their funds to the State Retirement Board, and other people have raised concerns about how the employee contribution will be calculated upon retirement -- the process is taking far too long and definitive answers have not been forthcoming from the SRB.  We are making progress, and we will continue to keep our members updated.  
2/9/2018 Update from Donna Siritus (MTA's expert on the Section 60 process) to the Higher Education Leadership Council (HELC): Section 60 Report to HELC
Materials distributed at the 12/12/17 MSP meting with Donna Sirutis and Mark Hickernell (MTA Attorney)

Labor Solidarity and Coalition Work

Solidarity for UMass adjuncts

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.

UUU at a UMass Board of Trustees Meeting


Community Alliances

Gathering signatures for the Raise Up Mass ballot initiatives for paid family medical leave and a $15 minimum wage

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.
  • Informing voters about a ballot question negatively impacting public schools
    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.