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The Point: Wrapping Up!


Greetings, colleagues!

This final Point of the year is co-authored by outgoing President Steve Striffler, incoming President Caroline Coscia, and incoming Vice President Jeff Melnick.  As we shuffle the seats a bit as the semester ends, we remain clear that the real work of the union is carried out by all of you, every day, in your various roles educating, mentoring, and supporting our students during a truly unprecedented time.

So our first message is a simple and heartfelt expression of gratitude. We know that our faculty and librarian members have (along with our devoted staff and graduate worker colleagues) kept UMB running as smoothly as possible in these punishing pandemic days.  March 2020 seems a lifetime away, and we know that these years have taken a toll on our students that has been at least somewhat mitigated by your devoted and expert work.  That you have gone this extra mile while continuing to run a world class library, teach interesting and inspiring classes, manage labs, and produce your own innovative scholarship—all in a context of artificially-imposed austerity—well really we just want to applaud you.

We are trying to enjoy the union successes of the recent past, while recognizing the substantial tasks that face us. The FSU Core Bargaining Team—with the support of a crack expanded bargaining team—finished bargaining this semester…only to have to begin bargaining again sometime next academic year.  While many of you (many of us!) are probably tired of hearing about bargaining, we will need to start determining priorities for the next contract (2023-2026) starting in the Fall.  We made some gains in this last round, including a Research-Intensive Semester for junior TT faculty, the creation of a Senior Lecturer III category for NTT faculty, an across-the-board 2-2 teaching load for TT faculty, as well as raises and increased salary floors.  We also resisted efforts by the Administration to remove workload protections of our already overworked librarians.

And yet, a lot of work remains to be done – our success depends on member engagement. Member engagement is increasingly important because it has become clear that our current Administration is not at all committed to shared governance, except at the level of rhetoric.  While you receive lots of emails from upper administration addressing you as a valued member of the Beacon team, again and again (with us, with the staff unions, and with the graduate workers’ union) the message from Quinn is that we are dispensable except when we passively accept administration’s desire to govern in a top-down, unchallenged way.   It has become common practice for our leaders to simply ignore us, attempt to silence us, and disregard our well-considered plans for advancing the interests of us all.

Our voice must be stronger if we are to shape the conditions of our workplace and ensure that we have adequate resources for teaching, research, and building programs, departments, centers, and institutes.  The current crisis afflicting our colleagues in Africana Studies—they are congratulated for leading antiracist efforts while being dismantled as a department and put through an unprecedented and poorly-articulated “audit”—is just the most extreme example of the mischievous sleight-of-hand practices of this administration.

Without the power of our collective voice it will be difficult to advance many of the issues we have been working on, as well as new ones as they emerge.  In addition to raises that actually keep up with the rate of inflation and salaries that allow one to decently live in Boston, here are a few priorities we will be thinking about this summer:

NTT Equity. We now have three broad tiers of faculty at UMB: (a) Associate Lecturers (b) NTT faculty on continuing appointment (or on their way there); (c) and tenure-stream faculty.  A central problem that we face as faculty and as a university is that the Administration is rapidly and cynically expanding the number of Associate Lecturers—faculty who are paid very poorly, have no real security, and face a murky path towards continuing appointment and better conditions. Very few NTT faculty are now hired as Lecturers and the percentage of faculty in TT lines is decreasing. We need to improve the conditions of Associate Lecturers while reducing the use of that category in general. It is disgraceful that university administrations think it is acceptable to pay Associate Lecturers $5350 a course.  And it is simply unsustainable that this category of faculty has become so central so quickly to the financial infrastructure and functioning of UMass Boston.

Anti-Racism. During the last round of bargaining the FSU succeeded in dedicating $25,000 of RES funds to anti-racism initiatives proposed and led by FSU members.  We were gratified by the great projects proposed and carried out by faculty in Spring 2022 and look forward to the next round of proposals.  It will be up to you to decide whether the FSU should bargain for this again in the next contract. Regardless, the FSU has to find other ways to advance concerns related to systemic racism at UMB—starting in our own backyard of course. How can FSU leadership best reach out to colleagues of color and engage with the very particular issues they are facing? And from here, how can we best advocate for broader initiatives having to do with recruitment and retention of faculty of color, the centering of antiracist pedagogies in our curricula, and harm reduction regarding the impact of the development of Dorchester Bay City and its disproportionate negative effects on communities of color in Dorchester?

Library and Librarians: The university has not made adequate investments in the library for the past two decades – in the building itself, in the collections, or in the librarians who staff an unfunded library with inadequate ventilation (or even heating).  It became abundantly clear during bargaining that paying our librarians a decent and competitive salary is not a priority for the university.  The FSU needs to make it one.  We also need to make sure they have the resources necessary for making sure that the library of Boston’s only public research university is world-class.

Sibling Unions: Our graduate worker colleagues have only recently come to an agreement with the upper administration after being treated with utter disrespect during negotiations.  Again and again we heard from our graduate workers that administration would show up for bargaining unprepared, and then with proposals that were completely out of touch with the realities of living in Boston.  Our colleagues in the staff unions have faced similar challenges—and the Classified Staff Union has still not come to terms with management. We must continue to build cross-union solidarity on campus and support our colleagues however we can as they too fight for a more just workplace.  Members of the staff unions have been doing a truly heroic job in these pandemic days, and we must fight shoulder to shoulder with them as they strive for a safe and healthy workplace, with fair remuneration.

Website and Social Media.  We need to continue improving our mode of communication.  We are all overwhelmed with how much we have to read, digest, and respond to on a daily basis.  This past year we experimented with having social media interns to support our messaging and we will keep building this project out. We began exploring how to update and strengthen our web presence and hope to launch a new website in the coming year.  We will be reaching out to all of you for ideas on how to engage with you more effectively.

You will be hearing from us more in the coming months to get a sense of what your priorities are for the next round of bargaining.  And we are (we promise!) more than open to hearing your criticisms.

FSU leadership is here for you in the summer!

This is your union. Please don’t hesitate to contact us at with comments, challenges, questions, or anything we can help with.


Steve Striffler

Caroline Coscia

Jeff Melnick

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