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T H E P U L S E. Welcome to THE PULSE the new newsletter from your Professional Staff Union! Our plan is to

P S U - B O S T O N / M T A / N E A V O L U M E 1, I S S U E 1 T H E P U L S E M A R C H A N I N V I T A T I O N F R O M T H E N E W S L E T T E R C O M M I T T E E I N S I D E T H I S I S S U
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P S U - B O S T O N / M T A / N E A V O L U M E 1, I S S U E 1 T H E P U L S E M A R C H A N I N V I T A T I O N F R O M T H E N E W S L E T T E R C O M M I T T E E I N S I D E T H I S I S S U E : C O N T R A C T S P O T L I G H T : O N - C A L L G R I E V A N C E C O M M I T T E E S T U D E N T D E M O I N L O N D O N Welcome to THE PULSE the new newsletter from your Professional Staff Union! Our plan is to provide a printed newsletter a couple of times each calendar year, supplemented by a website and both regular and ad hoc e-newsletters during the intervening months. We are excited about participating in what we hope will become a regular and very important way for all of us to communicate and share with each other. We ll be looking to collect and present information about our union and its activities, general news about who you are, who we are, and how the union works for you; and offer ways for you to share your own experiences with others who could use your help and support. N E W M E M B E R S O F T H E B O A R D R O S E C O V E N E Y & T A L E N T E D U S T A T E B U D G E T C Y C L E But this whole effort cannot live up to its full potential without your contributions. Given the current work life climate, it will become crucial in the coming days and months for us all to communicate, strategize and advise each other and we encourage you to send along your ideas, criticisms, suggestions, questions, as well as any information about your own accomplishments, activities, or milestones you d like to share with other members. We re looking forward to hearing from you! You can us at or send a note to THE PULSE, c/o Sarah Bartlett, Registrar s Office. Suzanne Allmendinger, Sarah Bartlett, Katie Brenton, Jocelyn Burke, L O G O C O N T E S T 11 Mary Jo Connelly, Jon Hutton, Thijs Messelaar R E G U L A R F E A T U R E S CONTRACT SPOTLIGHT MISS MANAGEMENT DISCUSS: Issues that affect us ALL ABOUT US: News about PSU members MEMBER SPOTLIGHT A W O R D ( O R S E V E R A L ) F R O M T H E C H A P T E R B O A R D A longstanding goal for the Chapter Board has been to improve the means we have of communicating with each other as union members about the issues we face and the things we do. We see this newsletter as a big step in that direction. A lot of our communication up to now has come in the form of quick hits to alert members to pressing issues, upcoming events, etc. While these will continue as an important part of our communication strategy, the newsletter allows us to go deeper. It will feature educational items to make us all more informed union members. It provides a means for us to get to know each other better and learn about the great things we all are doing. And it provides a forum for us to explore and weigh in on important issues and initiatives happening both on and beyond our campus. Given the current climate out there, we think that s more important than ever. We hope you will enjoy THE PULSE and hope that you will contribute your ideas and energy to making it a central part of our union s work. T H E P U L S E Page 2 T H I S M O N T H ' S C O N T R A C T S P O T L I G H T : O N - C A L L / C A L L B A C K It s Saturday night and a server goes on the blink or another chunk of the garage falls down or rats in the Psychology lab escape. You get the call. Are you expected, as part of your job, to answer that call and respond to that problem? If so, then you are most likely what our contract defines as an oncall employee. According to Section 18.3 of our contract (see box on page 3), on-call employees are those employees who are expected to answer the call and respond during their offhours. It may be that your department has a formal on-call system with specific scheduled times that different employees are required to cover, or it may be that a regular schedule has never been formally established you just know (through your supervisor s statements, or your position description, etc.) that you are expected to respond to emergency calls or s whenever they come in. Either way, you re on call. If you are on call, our contract requires that you be compensated for that whether you get called or not. It is the expectation that you have to answer the call that determines your on-call status. While there is a contractual formula for the calculation of oncall compensation, what s most important for you to know is that on-call compensation goes into your base pay for the years that you are designated to be on call, and it is recognized by the retirement system as part of your base for those years. So, it s important that on-call staff are properly recognized and compensated. Sometimes being on call is confused with being called into work when you re not regularly scheduled to be there. That s actually different. If you are called into work or are required to do prolonged work outside of your regularly scheduled hours, that is call back time. While being expected to respond (being on call ) earns regular monetary compensation, actually being called back to work earns compensatory time. On-call language has been in our contract for years. Early on, Boston didn t have a lot of employees who fell into this category, but in the last 10 years, with the increasing use of cell phones and the increase in technology (and its related problems) the Union discovered more and more employees who were expected to answer the call. We set out to identify who in our bargaining unit was on call. We developed a survey and distributed it to our members and we heard from many of you. And, as we did, we also learned that there were a lot of you out there and that NONE were being properly compensated for being on call. The union engaged in a lengthy campaign to change that. After multiple meetings with Chancellors, consultations with management, membership petitions, grievances and other member actions, we re pleased to say that some PSU members who we have identified as being on call are now being paid their due. But the fight s not over. There are quite a few on-call PSU members whose departments are not yet paying for that service, and we are still fighting over retroactive pay for all members who have been on call in the past without compensation. In fact, we are headed to an arbitration in June 2011 on this issue. We will keep you posted as we go. A R E Y O U O N C A L L? If you think you might be an on-call employee who is not yet on our list, we want to hear from you. Please fill out the on call survey (link on the PSU website, or us at and we will send you one. When you ve filled out the survey, send it to V O L U M E 1, I S S U E 1 Page 3 Section 18.3 On Call/Call Back A. Some University departments maintain formal on-call systems in order to cover off- hour shifts or to assure appropriate response to incidents and emergencies which occur at night or on weekends. Professional staff are assigned specific periods of duty, must be available during assigned duty, and must respond when called. For these situations, on-call and call-back shall be considered a single entity. A salary adjustment shall be made to acknowledge the additional expectation of serving regularly as part of a formal on-call/call-back system. Compensatory time for call-back shall be approved by the supervisor only in those instances when the employee must respond to a situation that requires work for a prolonged period of time (i.e., several hours during a night). The supervisor's discretion prevails in these cases. B. A department which does not maintain a regular and on-going on-call system may set its own policy for compensating bargaining unit members who are occasionally assigned, in writing, to be on call, but in no case shall a bargaining unit member receive less than one hour of compensatory time for every 8 hours assigned to be on call. C. In departments without formal on-call systems, for every hour that a bargaining unit member on-call is called back to work beyond his or her regularly scheduled work hours the bargaining unit member shall receive an hour of compensatory time. C O N T R A C T U P D A T E : T U I T I O N B E N E F I T S F O R S P O U S E S & D E P E N D E N T S You may remember that in our last round of contract negotiations, one issue that was emphasized by all the university locals was the restoration of the tuition benefit for employee spouses and dependents. As it stands, Board of Trustee agreement provides that dependents and spouses of employees are entitled to full tuition waivers. Back in the day, when tuition made up the major share of the cost of attending the University, this was a generous benefit. But the benefit has eroded drastically over the years, as rapidly increasing fees have come to take the place of tuition on our campuses. The first was the freezing of fees for employee spouses and dependents at the Fall 2009 levels. (This was at the time that the Board voted to raise fees by $1500. Our agreement meant that employees were not subject to that increase. ) The second small victory was getting agreement for a multi-union, systemwide labor/management committee, that would be established as of January 1, 2011 to develop a joint proposal to waive all mandatory fees for all UMass employees spouses and dependents who are eligible for tuition waivers, including Continuing Education waivers for employees, within the UMass system. Many of our members, in both Boston and Amherst, participated in different events to support the coalition of University unions as they took the tuition and fee campaign from the negotiating table to the Board of Trustees and back again. After all was said and done, the unions returned with two small victories. As agreed, the Tuition and Fee committee is now being established. It will be comprised of representatives from most of the union locals from the different Umass campuses as well as representatives from the campus-level management and the President s office. It is the unions hope that as the costs of education continue to rise, this committee will be able to develop a proposal to go to the Board of Trustees that will help to restore the value of this important benefit. We will keep you posted on the committee s progress as things develop. W H O Y O U G O N N A C A L L? I N T R O D U C I N G T H E G R I E V A N C E C O M M I T T E E The PSU is very proud to be able to introduce our Grievance Committee. The current members are: Jim Allen, Anneta Argyres, Sarah Bartlett, Tess Ewing, Tom Goodkind, Martha Kelly, AK Koutropoulos, Eleanor Leonard, Martha London, Kevin Mullen, Carolyn Nelson, Linda Perrotto, and Ben Sheldon. We will have more new members to introduce before the next issue of this newsletter comes out: people who have been fully trained and participated in our activities but were unable to attend the last meeting, when we set up our new system. The PSU has much to be proud of: a supportive membership and dedicated leaders. But one thing we have long lacked has been a robust structure for dealing with grievances. A very few people do all the cases. This is a dangerous situation for any local, and a heavy burden for both the few active stewards and the departments where they work. So last winter, we held a day-long grievance committee training, which was attended by 18 members. Since then, the committee has met several times to discuss issues and fill in the gaps, and a number of the new stewards have been involved with grievances. Now we are taking another new step. We have paired up new stewards with the more experienced ones, who will provide back-up and guidance. In the future, the first person you meet with to discuss a problem or potential grievance will probably be a new steward. But an experienced steward will be just a phone call away, and will be brought in when and if the case requires. (See insert for contact info) T H E P U L S E Page 4 D E A R M I S S M A N A G E M E N T : T H E D E F I N I T I V E S O U R C E O F Y O U R R I G H T S A T W O R K Dear Miss Management: I was hired four years ago as Staff Assistant to the Assistant Associate Vice Assistant Associate Chancellor for Very Special Programs. I m a member of the PSU and my position is a grade level 29. When I started, it was a two person operation and my duties were pretty clear cut. I handled administrative matters for the AAVAAC, managed the office budget, developed and maintained program information, and worked as a liaison with the different special programs that we coordinated. Well, in the last couple of years, our operation has expanded A LOT!!! There are four more people working in my area: two special project coordinators responsible for developing new programs and two classified staff members. And it seems like I now have responsibilities with all of them! They also have me working on grant proposals and administration (new to me!) and managing a website. Plus, I am now supposed to supervise the classified staff in the office - even though my boss says they report to him. It sure seems to me that my job has changed a lot and I think I should have a new job description (and an increase in my salary). But when I talk to my boss about it, he says that times are tight and he doesn t see how he could ask for more money for me now. He also tells me that he doesn t think my job really has changed, and that these new things are just those other duties as needed on my job description. He says be patient and that when the time is right, he ll see what he can do. Do I have any rights here? Sincerely, Tired of waiting for the right time Dear Tired of Waiting: ** I am exhausted just reading about your issue, dear, so I can only imagine how you feel. Unless you ve heard that hell will be freezing over soon, you shouldn t wait for your boss to decide it s the right time for you to have your position reviewed. You have the right to have your position reviewed whether he likes it or not. There are rules about these things and you should learn about them! Rules governing position descriptions and classifications are spelled out in detail in the Professional Staff Salary Administration Program (SAP). In your spare time (LOL) take a look at the SAP manual. You can find the manual on your union s website and on the Human Resource website. Unless you ve heard that hell is freezing over soon, you shouldn t wait for your boss to decide that it s the right time for you to have your position reviewed. Here s a snapshot: If your job has changed substantially (and it certainly sounds like yours has) I would advise you to immediately start the process for a position classification review. According to the SAP guidelines, a position classification review should be done when there have been significant changes in the complexity of your duties. (I d say you meet that criterion.) The idea is to make sure that your grade level and salary are aligned with what you re really doing not what your old, out-dated job description says. The guidelines for how to initiate a classification review are spelled out in the SAP Manual. You should read them and then get right to work on drafting an accurate position description for yourself. (There are some worksheets in the manual that you might find useful). While you re doing that, you should get in touch with the union. I recommend you meet with a union rep to go over the changes in your job. The union will help you formulate a new position description and fill out the review request form the first steps in your review. Once that s done, you ll be ready to present that to your boss/department head and hopefully (sigh!) he ll sign on and you can forward the review to HR. A word to the wise, keep that union rep s phone number handy. If your boss isn t cooperative, you ll want advice on how to proceed. Once they receive it, HR will review the information. They may ask you and/or your boss some questions to help determine the accuracy of the position description. And then they will assign it a grade level and salary. They will communicate their decision to you all. Hopefully, the process will lead to a satisfactory outcome for you. But if you disagree with the classification HR assigns, you need to notify the union within 10 days in order for them to determine whether an appeal is in order. You can read more about the appeal process in the SAP manual. If it comes to that, your union reps will guide that process, so I won t go into details here. But just so you get your tail in gear and get going with this, you should know that any salary adjustment will go back to when HR received your completed request for a review. So you don t want to sit on it too long. And listen, honey, we re all grateful to have jobs these days, but don t be a sap about it! Learn about the SAP and use it! You can write to Miss Management at: V O L U M E 1, I S S U E 1 Page 5 L O N D O N ' S S T U D E N T D E M O N S T R A T I O N S A R E T H E B E S T S O R T O F E D U C A T I ON The following is the first half of a piece published on the by UMass Amherst student Dan Glaun. Glaun is studying abroad at the University of Sussex. He can be reached at by Dan Glaun on November 30th, 2010 Earlier this month, students across the UK began protesting against planned increases in tuition fees and the cutting of university services. Today, students have been occupying buildings in Birmingham and hurling snowballs in Edinburgh and marching in London. All of this thoughtful demonstrating which is winding down in arrests and some clubbings and the offering of mince pies to politicians takes place against the dramatic backdrop of the first demonstrations on November 10th, when tens of thousands of young people stormed London. At the end, in Millbank, in central London, some demonstrators smashed windows; fires were set; and an occupation of Conservative headquarters by a few hundred ensued (from that building, an 18-year-old threw a fire extinguisher off the roof). Further, the second wave of demonstrations, on November 24, went off with some hitches when some small violence against property ensued and the police cornered and arrested a number of marchers. The media refers to both the November 10th and November 24th demonstrations as riots. ( As Students Rampage, headlined the Mirror last week.) So what is becoming lost is what the November 10th demonstration was like for the 30,000 to 50,000 peaceful protesters who flooded the streets outside Parliament in defense of higher education. My protest experience began at the ungodly hour of 7:30 a.m. in a University of Sussex campus bar. It was serving breakfast early for the occasion. The warm-enough eggs and triangular slabs of hash browns were just one aspect of the institutional support for the demonstration professors were encouraged to reschedule lectures to allow attendance, and assignment due dates were pushed back a day. The Sussex Student Union had found common cause with an administration seemingly eager to regain students' good will and stave off government cuts. In a burst of journalistic arrogance I approached a student sitting intent over his eggs and toast and asked if he'd mind answering some questions. He said that he didn't mind, his name was Bart, and he was Dutch, in that order; when asked why he was demonstrating for another country's education system, he replied that it was a matter of social responsibility and a misconception on the state's part of what education is: Basically, you have to pay for your own education because you are the only one profiting from it. And that's just not true. Common benefit should equal common cost as morally clear a belief as any, and one directly contradicted by the reasoning of the Browne education review and David Cameron's governing coalition. The Browne review is the polarizing document from David Cameron's government which was actually commissioned by Gordon Brown on the way out in order to reduce Britain
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