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Bargaining Update – Details about Tentative Agreement


Dear FSU Members,

As we reported earlier, the FSU’s Core Bargaining Team reached a tentative agreement on the 2020-2023 contract on December 22nd.  We are currently translating everything into contract language and a presentable form.

The FSU Core Bargaining Team recommends that faculty and librarians ratify this agreement.  The purpose of this email, however, is to provide a straightforward account of the agreement to help members decide how to vote.  In addition to this email, we will also be holding a forum (on 1/26 from 3-4pm) to discuss the agreement, circulate the agreement itself (and/or a detailed Memorandum Of Understanding of the agreement). We will then hold a vote to ratify (or not) the agreement soon after the 26th.

Across the Board (ATB) Raises: 2.5% in year one of the contract (effective July 2020); 2% in year two (July 2021), and 2% in year three (July 2022), plus a 1.5% bonus in year one to recognize the special efforts faculty put into converting courses to remote modality due to the pandemic (see end of email for info on when the ATB raises might be implemented).  We realize this is not sufficient given the level of inflation, but this was the rate for colleges and universities across the state.  The Administration proposed reducing the across-the-board raises to 1% per year to carve merit pay out of these paltry raises, but we argued that everyone should get at least 2% raises, and that Admin should add merit on top of these across-the-board raises.  They declined to provide money for merit pay.

Promotional Raises and Increases to Salary Floors: Promotional bumps and salary floors will be increased at all levels. See here. They are not as large as we would like, but they do bring us closer in line with our colleagues at Amherst. In the absence of bigger across-the-board raises, increasing promotional bumps and salary floors are a way to increase faculty salaries.

Travel Money:  Travel money will be expanded to more members and individual awards will be increased. Librarians and Clinical Nursing faculty will be eligible for the travel fund. The individual award amount will be increased from $1000 to $1150; the total pool will be increased from $275,000 to $325,000 by shifting $50,000 from the RES Fund -- $50k that is never used up from the RES fund.

Associate Lecturers – The new contract will increase the per course rate from $5,000 to $5,350.  We believe this per-course rate remains too low, especially as Associate Lecturers become the largest category of faculty on campus.  We won fewer gains for Associate Lecturers than we would have liked – this will be a major struggle in the future.  More and more of our faculty are being hired as Associate Lecturers, with low pay and no security.  We need to make sure that those who are hired as Associate Lecturers are paid better and have a shorter path towards Lecturer status with a continuing appointment.  For now, this modest increase in pay is as far as the administration was willing to go.

Senior Lecturer II – Teaching load goes from a 4-4 to a 4-3. The default teaching load for SLIIs will now be 4-3, with the expectation of “increased service” during the semester when they are teaching 3 courses. In many cases, this will simply be recognizing the service that NTT faculty already do. Faculty may opt out of the 4-3 and remain at 4-4.  We are working on implementation details and will provide them when we have more information. 

Senior Lecturer III – This new rank will be created, with a teaching load of 3-3 and a salary raise of $6500. Details of the implementation of this new rank are still being worked out with the Administration. We’ll follow up when we have more information. 

Librarians – We agreed on new salary floors and promotional raises and effectively fought off an Administration proposal to remove language setting a maximum number of hours from the Librarian work week. We were not able to shorten the time to promotional eligibility.

Scholarship of Practice Nursing Faculty (SOP) – We agreed that SOP will be eligible for Travel Funds and for salary anomaly pool. We were not able to agree to changes to workload this time around but will be working with SOP on how to engage on this issue shortly.

Anti-Racism Initiatives – The FSU negotiated a $25,000 fund (within RES) for the next two years of the contract for anti-racism initiatives.  The fund ($50k in total) will be allocated to and distributed by the Provost’s Office in consultation with the FSU to support anti-racism activities by faculty and librarians.

“Package Proposal”

2-2 Teaching Load  – A 2-2 teaching load will now be written into the contract and apply to all tenure-track faculty at the university.  We felt it was important to get all tenure-track faculty in all colleges and departments to a 2-2 teaching load – to make real our claims of being a research university.  It is also important to enshrine the 2-2 in the contract to protect faculty from the whims of state politics. 

Research Intensive Semester – We won a Research-Intensive Semester for all junior TT faculty –giving them a semester off from teaching before tenure to focus on research. 

Unfortunately, the Administration was unwilling to grant faculty these two benefits (2-2 & RIS) without extracting something.  Admin wanted (a) an evaluation mechanism for determining whether faculty are “research active” (and hence remain on a 2-2) and (b) more flexibility over course capacities.  Fortunately, in both cases, we were able to limit the scope of the demand – even though we are not thrilled with either.

Evaluation Mechanism for “Research Active”:  Tenured faculty will be evaluated by each Department/unit Personnel Committee (DPC), department chair, and dean on an annual basis as part of the regular Annual Faculty Report process, to determine if they have met the criteria for research-active status in the year being evaluated (what constitutes “research active” is determined by the Department and approved by Admin).  We expect almost all faculty will be routinely designated “research active” by their departments.  However, any tenured faculty member who receives an AFR designation of “Does Not Meet Expectations” for three years in a row will convert to a 3-3 teaching load as of the spring semester immediately following the third AFR review.  A faculty member who has reverted to a 3-3 teaching load shall stay at that load unless or until the DPC, ratified by the department chair and dean, finds them again to “Meet Expectations” as part of the regular Annual Faculty Report process for research-active status. A tenured faculty member who moves from a designation of “Does Not Meet Expectations” to “Meets Expectations” will revert to a 2-2 teaching load as of the spring semester immediately following the AFR review.  The FSU core bargaining team opposed the evaluation mechanism (and successfully limited it in a number of ways), in large part because we believe that a 2-2 should be the default load at a research university, that we spend way too much time evaluating each other, and that these types of evaluations are always more complicated in reality than on paper.   But the Admin was not willing to concede the 2-2 and the RIS without this concession. 

Flexibility on Course Capacities – As you may know, although the Administration (with departments) controls course sizes before the courses are entered into Wiser, once they are put into Wiser and registration begins the number of students in a course can only be increased with instructor permission.  This basic provision of the contract still holds and protects faculty.  We did make one concession in order to get the 2-2 load and RIS.  In courses with more than 5 sections, the chair/dean may now increase the course capacity of the course by no more than 5% of the original cap, rounded upward to the largest whole number, with a minimum of one, in order to accommodate unexpectedly high student demand for the relevant semester. Such increases can only be made from the week before classes start until the add/drop period ends.  Any such increase will apply only to the relevant semester.   

Two Memoranda Of Understanding (MOUs)

Committee to Look At Compensating Faculty for MA, Phd Advising and Independent Studies --  The FSU and Administration agreed that the Provost will convene a committee for the purpose of researching how UMass Boston departments and colleges compensate faculty who teach independent studies and advise students pursuing master's theses and doctoral dissertations.  By December 1, 2022 the committee will propose the establishment of a baseline standard of compensation to apply across colleges and departments for the provost's consideration. The proposal will be submitted to the Provost, the Faculty Council, Deans, and the Faculty Staff Union. The Provost will respond in writing by January 31, 2023.

Committee to Look At NTT Department Participation –The FSU and Administration agreed that the Provost will convene a committee for the purpose of researching how UMass Boston departments can better integrate non-tenure track faculty into department life. The committee will focus on ways in which Lecturers on continuing appointment (all ranks) can best participate in departmental governance. For instance, key questions may include under what circumstances, to what extent, and on what types of issues should lecturers on continuing appointment have voting rights within their respective departments.  We see this as an important step towards more fully incorporating NTT faculty into workplace governance.

Other items

Compensation for Union Work – The FSU and Administration agreed to increase the stipend option for union officers to $4,000 (from $3,000).

Gender Neutral Language – we agreed to incorporate gender neutral language throughout the contract

Grievance Procedure – We agreed to slight changes in the timeline for holding hearings on filed grievances.

What Next?

We expect the state legislature to pass a supplemental budget in February that will fund this contract. Soon after our raises will kick in, with a lump sum retroactive pay for salary increases from June 2020 plus the 1.5% bonus.  For this to happen, however, we need to ratify the contract.

There will be a Forum on January 26th to explain and answer questions about the tentative contract.  Prior to that, we will share a more detailed MOU about the contract and hopefully the entire contract itself (assuming all the language is in place by then – it is a tedious process).  The vote to ratify the agreement will then take place from January 27th until February 2nd

Thanks to everyone for supporting the bargaining process.  Your support was key.  We did not achieve everything we wanted, but this agreement contains important gains that will benefit members and lay the groundwork for future advances in subsequent rounds of bargaining.

Please join us on the 26th (3-4pm) to discuss the agreement further.


Core Bargaining Team              

Caroline Coscia, Senior Lecturer II, Political Science, FSU Vice President

Katie D’Urso, MTA Field Representative

Jessica Holden, Librarian III, Healey Library

Maria Mellone, Non-Reappointed (i.e., laid off) Associate Lecturer, Math

Alex Mueller, Associate Professor, English

Lorenzo Nencioli, FSU Senior Staff Member

Jason Rodriquez, Associate Professor, Sociology

Heike Schotten, Professor, Political Science

Steve Striffler, Director of the Labor Resource Center and Professor, Anthropology, FSU President

Tony Vandermeer, Senior Lecturer II, Africana Studies

For information on the FSU, links to our contract and bargaining updates, and a calendar of events, see the FSU webpage