We write to inform you of an issue that directly affects your education and our ability to work with you. You may have heard that faculty and librarians have worked without a funded contract for 607 days. Today the main sticking point is that the university presidents are refusing to fully compensate faculty for supervising student internships, independent studies, courses by special arrangement, and for teaching certain laboratory courses. We know these educational opportunities are important to many of you, which is why faculty have continued to supervise these for the last three semesters without full credit.
CONTEXT: What is a contract and what is the purpose of a union?
Unions support workers and seek to ensure fair treatment and working conditions. Faculty and librarians operate under the same union contract. It is first bargained and agreed upon by the Board of Higher Education (BHE), the Council of Presidents (COP – all the presidents of the state universities), and the MSCA (faculty & librarian’s union).
CURRENT CRISIS: Why hasn’t the new contract been ratified?
Our MSCA union negotiated a contract in good faith and all parties signed in May 2018 after a very long bargaining process that began in January of 2017. Now the COP is refusing to honor the new contract, even though they initially agreed. The main issue has to do with faculty credits. For example, in the past faculty received 1/3 of a credit for supervising a student intern. In the new contract this increases to ½ credit and an independent study increases from ¼ to ½ credit. These are modest increases, but they enable us to give you the time, attention, and mentoring you deserve. Students suffer when the state does not adequately fund public higher education.
EFFECT ON STUDENTS & STAFF: What does working without a contract mean?
Faculty and librarians greatly enjoy our work with students, but we deserve fair compensation and just working conditions. This is why you see many of us wearing blue on Tuesdays – our union color. This is why we have been in “work-to-rule” all year, which means not working above and beyond our contracted job duties. This is why some faculty may not be able to supervise extra internships or special projects. Lack of a contract also means that faculty and librarians have not received promised cost of living raises for 788 days! The presidents have now demanded that the union return to the bargaining table, which could drag on for many more months. We think it is important that you understand some of these issues that affect all of us at Fitchburg.
If you are interested in learning more, talk with your professors, or contact our Fitchburg MSCA office at 978-665-3303.
You may also voice your concerns directly to FSU President, Richard Lapidus (email@example.com) or by phone: 978-665-3101.