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Nuts & Bolts: Classified Staff Union support, Healey Café, New Business, Wage Student Inequity, and Labor Based Grading


Dear Members,

Happy April Fool’s Day!   As I write this the weather forecasters are predicting a chance of snow this week.  April 1, 1997, was the April Fool’s Day blizzard where Boston received 25 inches of snow.  Hours before the snow began, we were enjoying 60-degree weather.  Three days later, most of the snow was gone. Check out the  National Weather Service about the storm

Classified Staff Union (CSU) Support on April 5th: Letter from CSU President 

We, the Classified Staff, are the forward and front-facing members of U-Mass Boston that faculty, fellow staff, returning and prospective students and their families often interact with first. We are the cornerstone and foundation of this university! Many times, we are the members who are responsible for the first impressions that welcome new & returning visitors to this campus. Faculty rely on us, other staff rely on us and certainly, students rely on and need us. We are the members, who in short, make UMB run. 

Over the last two decades, the Classified Staff have watched as every other union on campus has received increases to their base salaries and many other benefits, while we lag behind. Always the last to the table, we have been told over and over again, that there is nothing left. Well, today is OUR time! 

We deserve and demand that the CSU pay scale be given the priority attention and focus by the administration that it rightly deserves. A major overhaul which is reflective of current financial conditions and addresses living wages in and around the Boston metropolitan area is necessary so that current and prospective employees can earn a true living wage that is comparable to our peer private and public institutions in and around Massachusetts and neighboring states.

A recent study by SmartAsset involving 99 of the largest US cities clearly shows that Classified Staff wages are far below the salary needed to “live comfortably” in Boston. Boston ranked as the 5th most expensive city in which to live. Using the MIT Living Wage calculator, researchers used the latest data from February 2024, to show that the annual salary for a single adult living in Boston needs to be nearly $125,000! For those with a partner and two children, a salary of over $319,000 is necessary. The current average salary of classified staff is barely $75,000, far below the standard to “live comfortably”.  It is time for UMass to get with the times and face the realization that our salaries are far below the standard of a living wage!

Nearly 50% of the membership is at the top step and receive nothing more than the state parameters - which means, that when health insurance increases occur every July, the net effect of that increase leaves most CSU members in the negative because the health insurance premium increase surpasses the governor’s parameter raise. This is exemplified by the fact that nearly a quarter of our members surveyed back in 2022 work a second job to help offset the low wages paid and high insurance costs set by UMB.

UMass Boston must adapt for the times that we are currently in – they must provide greater work-life balance by refilling vacant positions, by creating new positions that strengthen departments, and removing classified job duties from overworked faculty and professional staff, who also deserve greater work-life balance.

This current and many previous administrations have NOT sought to actively engage and supply the necessary resources that we, the classified staff union employees, need to be successful in our jobs, much less, our lives. It has been well over 15, probably closer to 20 years, since the administration has overhauled our pay scale! In today's economy, with our low wages, it does not pay to even work at UMB!

To that end, the Classified Staff Union employees have decided that before we even sit across from the administration for our first face-to-face bargaining session for the next 3-year contract, to begin taking action to let the administration know just how serious we are. Therefore, we ask FSU members to join us in a show of solidarity and support, on Friday, April 5, at the Chancellor's inauguration, in a silent sign holding protest. We will proudly be wearing our blue CSU and MTA shirts and encourage you to also wear blue in solidarity. We are excited that the Governor, Mayor, U-Mass President Meehan and many higher up administrators from the Board of Trustees and the President's Office will be on sight to witness what we hope will be the first historic banding of CSU members in many years! 

Thank you, Alexa MacPherson,  CSU, President

Need an FSU T-Shirt?  Contact us. 

Do you miss getting coffee in the library?

Please support our students’ efforts to reinstate the Healey Café by signing this petition:

Reminder: New Business Items for FSU Annual Meeting, April 23rd 3:00 – 5:00PM

Our policies (see below) require notification no later than March 24th.   The deadline for submittal is April 2nd at 5PM EDT via email to .  

Policy: The notification shall call for new business agenda items which must be submitted no less than 21 days prior to the meeting.   1. All new business items are to be submitted in the form of a motion. 2. All new business items are to be submitted to the President and FSU Executive Committee via the FSU email account.

Wage Study Shows Pay Inequity in Massachusetts Higher Education

A salary study conducted by ASA Research on behalf of the MTA found that, when adjusted for cost of living, faculty and staff wages at Massachusetts public colleges and universities are much lower than in virtually all public colleges and universities in nearby states and other peer institutions. In some cases, the wage gap exceeds $30,000. As wages fall below what is needed to meet this state’s high cost of living this not only harms those of us working in public higher education, but also harms the very institutions themselves as it becomes increasingly difficult to fill vacancies and attract the best-qualified job applicants. Consequently, student support and academic programs are put at risk.  Read the wage study (attached) summary to learn more.

Anti-Racism Grant Recipient Events

An upcoming event of which the sponsors were awarded a 2023-2024 FSU Anti-Racism Grant.

Equity, Efficiency, Empathy: A Presentation on Labor-Based Grading.

You're invited to a presentation and panel discussion about Labor Based Grading on Wednesday, April 10th, from 2:30-4:00 p.m. on Zoom. Writing instructors Susan Field, Brittanie Weatherbie-Greco, Dan Messier & Brittany Peterson have researched, implemented, and studied the effects of LBG with over 900 students. Join them to learn about this grading ecology and how it might work to cultivate antiracist values and enable success for students of all backgrounds in your classroom and discipline and reduce the emotional toll of grades and grading when it comes to qualitative work such as student writing. Flyer attached.

Save the Date, April 18th 2PM Social Security and State Retirement

A representative of the Massachusetts Retirement Association will be educating us on what happens when you collect your state pension and have 40 credits under social security.  The zoom meeting will also explain what happens to spousal benefits when taking your state retirement. More details forthcoming.

MTA Benefits: Discount Directory

Want to see a variety of vendor discounts?  Check out the Discount Directory


Caroline Coscia                                 

FSU President                                   

Senior Lecturer II                               

Political Science Department