Top Social Menu


Update From The FSU Grievance Committee



Dear Colleague,

There are currently 3 formal, pending grievances that the GC is working on (a ‘grievance’ is the process by which resolution of possible violations of your contract rights can occur; for more, we encourage you to read this FSU primer on the grievance procedure and this primer on contract and other rights).  In addition to the formal grievances, the GC has spent countless hours on grievance and contract related matters with FSU members that have not resulted in formal grievances. These matters include: informal resolution of contract violations, apprising members of their contract rights, providing advice on and support for Title IX investigations, dismissal cases and other potential disciplinary hearings, attending Weingarten hearings (see below), attending GC meetings, assessing potential contract language issues for contract negotiations, and much more. Since the last update we sent to members on May 17, 2021, the GC has had at least 73 such cases/interactions with FSU members.

We would like to report on a few of the formal and informal pending grievance and contract related matters that we are addressing or have addressed. (For reasons of confidentiality, we cannot report on all the pending grievance and contract related matters that we are dealing with). We include a brief summary of the conclusion to an important case related to a scholarly misconduct allegation and another pending case with important implications for NTT just cause rights.

In addition, we strongly urge you to familiarize yourself with Weingarten Rights - that is, your right to have a union witness present for any meeting with your supervisor that is of an investigatory nature or may have disciplinary repercussions (see the Grievance  tab on the FSU website for more info, including a link to a more detailed MTA primer on Weingarten Rights).

Members who believe their contract rights have been violated have 60 days from the date of the infraction to file a grievance (see Article 25 of the contract). Contact the FSU office if you have questions about your contract rights or if you think your contract rights may have been violated.

Previous grievance updates can be seen here.

From the FSU Grievance Committee:

Paul Dyson, Senior Lecturer II, English

Katie D’Urso, MTA Field Rep

Ellen Frank, Senior Lecturer, Economics

Glover Martin, Lecturer, Biology

Laurie Milliken, Associate Professor, Exercise and Health Sciences

Lorenzo Nencioli, FSU Senior Staff Member

Heidi Stanish, Professor, Exercise and Health Sciences

Update on Grievances and Contract Related Matters


NTT Dismissals for Cause (also see ‘Dismissal of 2 NTT’s With Continuing Appointments’ in previous GC update from 5/17/21) – The two cases proceeded through the first two levels of the formal grievance process (the FSU believed that proper procedure was not followed in the dismissal process for both cases). Admin denied the grievances at both levels by asserting that NTT dismissal language in Article 21.14 does not allow grievances to be filed for NTT dismissals after the Provost renders a final decision. The FSU vigorously opposed this assertion of the meaning of the language. The cases were then filed to level III (arbitration). A settlement offer was made in one case and a response from Admin is still pending. A settlement offer is being contemplated in the second case.

Associate Lecturer Conversion- An Associate Lecturer (AL) completed 4 consecutive semesters at 50% or more. The AL was not given work in the 5th consecutive semester but was reassigned in the 6th semester at 50%. However, they were reappointed as an AL and not as a Lecturer (Article 21.11 indicates that AL’s will be converted to Lecturer after 4 consecutive semesters at 50% or more). A grievance was filed asserting that the conversion should occur any time after the 4th consecutive semester at 50% or more even if the subsequent reappointment does not immediately follow the 4 consecutive semester period. A level II hearing (i.e. a hearing with the President’s Office) was held and a decision was rendered. The Administration denied the grievance, asserting that the contract language was intended to mean that the conversion to Lecturer can only occur as of the 5th consecutive semester. The FSU is currently seeking a settlement for the grievance.

Discriminatory Content and Retaliation in Promotion Reviews- Three faculty members in a single department recently underwent promotional reviews (two for tenure and one for Professor). While the tenure promotions were granted, the two faculty members who had applied for tenure argued that racially discriminatory content had been included in their promotional files and that such content negatively impacted both the current assessment of the faculty members and, potentially, future assessments as well. A grievance was filed and a request was made to remove the discriminatory content from the faculty members’ files. Ultimately, a settlement was reached whereby the Provost agreed to revise the latter’s promotional review letter for one of the faculty members to account for the discriminatory content but not remove the content itself from the file.  Subsequently, the faculty members filed a discrimination case with the Office of Civil Rights and Title IX. An investigation concluded that, while the content included in the letters was indeed discriminatory, University of Massachusetts Non-Discrimination and Harassment Policy (T16-040) was not violated since no negative harm (i.e. promotion denial) was demonstrated. The investigation report included a recommendation for trainings for personnel committees to ensure that committee members recognize such content as problematic and not rely upon it in future reviews. It also recommended review of college-level personnel review guidelines for their compliance with the Red Book and the CBA so as to ensure that committee members cannot use such to support practices that may violate the Red Book and CBA. At this point, it is not clear the extent to which the discriminatory content and the conclusions based on this content will be removed or redacted from the faculty members’ files; thus the Civil Rights and Title IX case is ongoing In addition to the discrimination claims in the tenure cases, a third faculty member who applied for promotion to Professor and was denied claimed the denial was retaliatory for prior union activity and for being a co-complainant in the grievance filed to remove discriminatory content in their colleagues’ files. An unfair labor practice charge has been filed with the Department of Labor Relations (that case is pending).

Change in Tenure Review Standard- A faculty member who was granted tenured was given a ‘strength’ in teaching despite receiving ‘excellent’ in teaching at previous levels of review. The faculty member noted that the downgrade from ‘excellent’ to ‘strength’ was the result of new information added at the Provost’s review level that had not been reviewed or assessed at any other level. The Grievance Committee reviewed the case and concluded that material added to a promotional file in violation of the proscribed tenure review procedures that impacts the assessment of the faculty member even when the tenure promotion review is positive can be grieved. A grievance was filed and a settlement was reached whereby the Provost’s tenure review letter was modified to reflect the concerns of the member.


Allegations Regarding Quality of Scholarship (also see previous GC update from 5/17/21) – An anonymous complaint was made against an Associate Professor for allegedly violating the UMB policy on responsible conduct of research in Winter, 2018.   The member was under review for promotion and was recommended by the first three levels of review. The member strongly denied any wrongdoing and refused to withdraw their promotion application despite repeated requests by the Provost. The Provost and Vice Provost for Research invoked the UMB Procedures for Responding to Alleged Research Misconduct despite providing no explanation of how the member’s work violated any UMB policy.  An inquiry was initiated per university procedures, and the promotion review was placed in abeyance pending a recommendation.

The inquiry committee issued a report in January, 2019 concluding that no violation of the policy per se had occurred and an investigation was not warranted.  The procedures required the case to be closed. However, the Provost and Vice Provost for Research stated that the concerns would be noted in the member’s personnel file. The FSU filed a grievance in May 2019 alleging multiple violations of the Procedures for Alleged Research Misconduct, a violation of the member’s academic freedom, and of their due process rights. The Level I grievance was denied by the Provost, but the Level II decision by the President’s Office stated that the UMB Administration had committed “both technical and substantive errors” in administering the procedures (no violation of academic freedom). UMB Admin was instructed to close and seal the inquiry and to rescind any mention of the case per the policy from the member’s personnel file.

In June 2021, after 6 more months of settlement talks related to proper implementation of the level II decision, assurance of a fair evaluation of the member’s promotion application, and assurance that if promoted, the appointment and associated raise in salary would be retroactive to September, 2018, an agreement was reached and signed.  In July 2021, the member was successfully promoted to Professor with the appointment effective September 1, 2018.


From the 5/17/21 GC update:

Summer 2020 Distance Learning Course Development Fee- Issues related to this grievance and distance learning in general will be dealt with at the bargaining table (see here for more information).

From the GC 5/18/22:

Summer 2020 Distance Learning Course Development Fee- Bargaining for the 20-23 contract concluded and Article 35 (Distance Learning) was unchanged (see the 20-23 agreement here).  The FSU has since asserted that all distance learning courses approved and developed by faculty members are covered by Article 35, which means the DL development fee must be paid (see here for more information). If you have any questions or concerns about DL course development and/or the DL course development fee, please contact the FSU office.