GEO has reached a tentative agreement on our 8th contract with the University

Upon ratification, the contract will be in effect from August 30, 2009 to August 31, 2012. The contract will cover all UMass graduate students who are employed as Teaching Associates (TO), Teaching Assistants (TA), Research Assistants (RA), Project Assistants (PA), Assistant Residence Directors (ARD), and Graduate Interns.

None of the following changes [ratification-announcement summary] take effect until the contract is ratified by a majority of GEO-eligible employees casting valid votes. Voting will occur at two special meetings described below. To help inform you about the proposed contract and prepare you to vote we have included a detailed list of the proposed contract changes that will affect graduate student employees, listed by article. Also there will be two informational meetings held prior to ratification (see below for details).


Voting begins on Tuesday, March 31st, from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. and continues on Wednesday, April 1st, from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., both in Campus Center Rm 177. Voting closes at 5:00 p.m. on the 1st and a public counting of the votes will begin at 5:01 in the same location.

Pre-Vote Informational Meetings:

Thursday, March 26th from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. & Friday, March 27th from 10:00 a.m. to noon, both in Campus Center Rm 168.

Article 15 (Non-Discrimination): Additions to protected categories include “creed,” and “sex, gender identity or expression” in place of only “gender.”

Article 16 (Language Testing): Students who have not met one of the following criteria will be required to take the SPEAK test: 1. English as a first language; 2. An undergraduate degree from a U.S. university; 3. A test score of 50 or above on either the SPEAK test or the TSE (Test of Spoken English). The SPEAK test is administered by the Graduate School at no cost to the student. This information will be included in the application package sent to international graduate students, and students with instructional responsibilities will also be notified upon arrival to campus. Students who do not pass the test will participate in communication instruction classes at no cost to the student. If the assistantship has already begun, the test results will have no bearing on funding for the duration of the appointment, although the student may be reassigned to a different GEO position.

Article 23 (Appointment and Reappointment): A housekeeping update to eliminate sections 3B, 3C, 3D, and 3E, dealing with departments that did not have written policies regarding appointment and reappointment. Retain section 3F, now changed to 3B, which addresses establishing a means for graduate student input into changes to the written policy.

Article 30 (Health & Safety): Specifies that ARDs, whose living spaces are also their workplaces, will not be forced to work in an unsafe environment.

Article 32 (Stipends): Annual increases to stipends will be paid according to the following schedule for the duration of the contract:

  • 1.5% beginning Aug 30, 2009;

  • 2.5% beginning Sept 5, 2010, with an additional 1% pool used to increase the school and college minimums;

  • 2.5% beginning Sept 4, 2011, with an additional 1% pool used to increase the school and college minimums.

All Continuing Education wage scales will be increased by 1.5% beginning in Fall 2009, by 2.5% in the Fall of 2010, and by 2.5% in the Fall of 2011.

Additionally, should state tax revenues exceed $20.3 billion in FY10, an additional 1% increase will apply retroactive to Aug 30, 2009. Similarly, should state tax revenues exceed $21.4 billion in FY10, the increase will be 2%. This wage elevator applies only to the 09/10 school year.

Article 35 (Health Fees): $.50 per week increase in the Health and Welfare Fund effective in January, 2011, and an additional $.50 per week increase effective January, 2012.

Article 37 (Vacation): TAs and TOs will take vacation time during winter and spring break, unless an agreement with the department is reached. All other graduate students may take vacation at any time, with the written approval of the supervisor.

Article 38 (Additional Time Off): TAs and TOs who would normally work on a holiday will receive time off with pay. Other graduate student employees who are required to work on a holiday shall receive compensatory time off, unless such a requirement is included in the job description.

Article 53 (Duration): The contract shall be for the period from August 30, 2009, through August 31, 2012. If a successor agreement is not reached by August 31, 2012, the contract will remain in effect until a new agreement is executed or impasse is reached. At the written request of either party, negotiations for a successor agreement will commence during or after February 2012.

New Memorandum of Understanding #18: The University agrees that any increases to the FY09 Graduate Service Fee will be waived for graduate student employees for the duration of the 2009-2012 agreement. This MOU expires on August 31, 2012

New Memorandum of Understanding #19: Funds from the Health and Welfare Fund will be used, on a one-time only basis in FY09, to reimburse graduate student employees’ health insurance premiums, up to $148.00 for individuals or $519.00 for individuals plus family.

Ratification and Service Fees:


Graduate Employee Organization

201 Student Union (mailing address)

UMass Amherst

Amherst, MA 01003

(413) 545-0705

-a proud and loud unit of-

UAW Local 2322

4 Open Square Way

4th floor, #406

Holyoke, MA 01040

(800) 682-0269

his agreement, if ratified, will require the payment of a service fee (currently 1.58% of regular compensation) as a condition of employment. All bargaining unit members are eligible to vote. This agreement will be ratified if a majority of those present and eligible to vote do vote in favor of ratification. The Graduate Employee Organization is a unit of the United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America, AFL-CIO. The union’s most recent financial report in the form of a balance sheet and operating statement listing all receipts and disbursements of the previous financial year is available for inspection at GEO’s office, 201 Student Union.

Comments are closed.