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Nuts & Bolts: Medical leave update, gender designations, back-to-back classes, anti-racism grant events, Cherish Act support, MTA annual meeting and a save the date


Dear Members,

This issue is longer than usual. It is so because we have lots of information to share.  

UPDATE: Medical Leave and Third-Party Vendor

Last week’s issue informed you we, along with other UMass unions are working together in coalition and will be taking some actions.  On Friday, March 22nd the FSU sent a formal letter to the Chancellor demanding to cease and desist implementation of the new vendor, FMLASource.

The coalition is working on a letter to the UMass President and a communication to UMass employees regarding impacts of this change.  The FSU will provide you with this information in a dedicated email.

MTA Retirement Consultations: Sign up for an individual consultation

Ed McCourt, MTA's higher ed retirement consultation, is scheduling consultations on April 3rd, 11th and 15th.   For more information, the FSU website contains the details.

Gender Designation: Addition of X

The FSU along with CSU, DCU, GEO and PSU sent a letter to Vice Chancellor Marie Bowen seeking “any HR form or webpage that requires a gender designation to also include X, in addition to M and F.   X is used by people whose genders are not male or female. Here’s an example of M, F, and X gender markers through the U.S. Department of State.” 

We are pleased to say that the addition of X along with F and M will begin April 2024.  New hire paperwork will include X.  We do believe existing employees will be able to request a change in designation.  

Thank you to the FSU LGBTQIA+ caucus for bringing this to our attention.

Have you ever taken up a fellowship award?

Some faculty members who have recently won fellowships have reported that the administration requires them to forego their full salary and take up the small stipends and allowances that the awards provide. We believe that previously the university would allow fellowship holders to keep their full salary and benefits, effectively “topping up” the amount of the award. If you have ever held a fellowship can you please write to to share your experience with us and help us advocate for fellowship awardees.

Will You Be Teaching Back-to-Back Classes Fall 2024?  

If you are scheduled to teach back-to-back classes not in the same or adjacent classroom, please speak to your department and college scheduler about getting rooms closer together.  We suggest you make the request now.

Some of you reached out telling us that it is almost impossible to go from UHall to Wheatley or McCormack in ten minutes.  At our March 6th Labor Management meeting, the provost office agreed a faculty member should request rooms closer together.

Anti-Racism Grant Recipient Events

This upcoming week includes three more events of which the sponsors were awarded a 2023-2024 FSU Anti-Racism Grant.

Connecting the dots between past, present, and future: Understanding oppression in the early childhood education workforce in order to re-build towards intersectional justice.

On Monday, March 25th 4:00-5:30PM in the Alumni Lounge, the second of three events takes place. This one is Navigating Past Pandemics: Current Perspectives and Policies Related to Teachers and Care Providers. Flyer attached.

A Teach-In and Speak-Out for the Times: Pathways to Social Repair and Campus Transformation

The first of a two-part workshop takes place on Wednesday, March 27th 2:00-4:00PM CC 2550A.  This event is Solidarity, Healing, and Empowerment: Confronting the Embodied Weathering of Racism at UMass Boston.  Flyer attached.

Part two takes place on Thursday, March 28th 12:00-1:30PM CC 3445.  This event is Solidarity, Healing, and Empowerment: Confronting the Embodied Weathering of Racism at UMass Boston.  Flyer attached.

Support the CHERISH ACT:  Ways and Means Committee Hearing

On Tuesday, March 26th at 11:00 the joint committee on Ways & Means is holding a public meeting on the FY25 budget. MTA is trying to get as many higher ed union members there as possible to represent the needs and interests of our members, students, and institutions. If you can come, MTA will feed you lunch and pay for your gas!

If you can’t attend, you can submit written testimony!   Click here to Learn More, RSVP, and/or Submit Testimony HERE.     The FSU will be submitting the written testimony we presented to the Joint Committee on Higher Education at their September 18, 2023, hearing.

If you don’t know much about the Cherish Act (MTA’s big Higher Ed legislation) you can learn more HERE. The quick summary is that we are pushing for 1) debt-free public higher ed for students; 2) recruiting and retaining high quality faculty and staff (addressing poor wages and working conditions); 3) increased student supports; and 4) green and healthy buildings.

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.

Reminder: Deadline Approaching to be a FSU Delegate to MTA Annual Meeting,

Each local organization is assigned the number of delegates based on their membership. The FSU’s allotment is thirteen (13).   If you are interested in attending, please contact us no later than Friday, March 29th at 12PM.

For Annual Meeting details go to

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

We are pleased to announce 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.

Thank you to Jon Millman, Senior Lecturer III Economics for bringing this issue to our attention.

MTA Benefits: Teacher Appreciation Day at WooSox Game, Polar Park, Worcester

The Worcester Red Sox, the triple A minor league baseball team, is holding a teacher appreciation game during April vacation. Included with each ticket is admission to a post-game teacher reception in the DCU Club, complete with light food, a full-service bar, raffles, and giveaways.


Caroline Coscia                                 

FSU President                                   

Senior Lecturer II                               

Political Science Department