State college unions plan 'day of outrage'
By Susan Bush
North Adams Transcript
NORTH ADAMS -- Angered over contentious contract negotiations and signed, sealed but undelivered pay increases, members of three Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts labor unions are planning a "day of outrage" today in conjunction with similar events at nine state college campuses.
The event is set for 4 p.m. in front of the Murdock Hall on campus.
Members of the college faculty association, which is affiliated with the Massachusetts State College Association, are now in their second year without a contract.
MCLA English and communications professor Ben Jacques said on Tuesday that salary offers from the state Board of Higher Education, which answers directly to Gov. Mitt Romney, are unsatisfactory.
"We have our own contract battles right now and we feel that the governor's proposals are insulting," he said.
College staff who are members of the Association of Federal, State, County and Municipal Employees group and the Association of Professional Administrators, have yet to receive more than two years in retroactive pay raises that were approved during specific negotiations and included in signed contracts, Jacques said.
In 2003, state legislators voted to pay for the raises but did not approve releasing money to cover retroactive pay, Jacques said. In 2004, legislators approved funding six months of the retroactive pay, but Romney then vetoed the approval.
"We're really angry about the six-month veto," Jacques said.
Picketing, marches and rallies are scheduled for the Bridgewater State College, Fitchburg State College, Framingham State College, Massachusetts College of Art, Massachusetts Maritime Academy, Salem State College, Westfield State College, and Worcester State College.
Information provided by the MSCA states that for professors at state colleges in Massachusetts, full professors earn about 14 percent less than those at comparable educational facilities. The study, which is being sent to Romney, indicates that state college professors earn less then their counterparts across the board.
An accompanying letter is signed by the presidents of all nine state colleges.
A written information statement issued on Tuesday includes remarks from MCLA President Mary K. Grant.
"The economic success of the ever-growing knowledge-based economy in Massachusetts has direct ties to a strong system of public higher education," said Grant. "Like our sister institutions, at MCLA, we consider ourselves fortunate to have exceptional faculty who play an essential role in educating tomorrow's leaders. Continuing to attract and retain these faculty is the key to public higher education's success, it's an investment in the future."
A separate communication addressed to Romney and meant to be signed and sent by members of the unions states that Romney provided pay raises to 2,700 of his "managers" in 2003, but during the same fiscal year, refused to approve raises for state college faculty and librarians.
"State college faculty and librarians have received no raises since Sept. 29, 2002," according to the letter.
The letter also states "You were eager to impose binding arbitration on the city of Boston and its police. Arbitration brought about a settlement. I suggest that you instruct the Board of Higher Education to engage in binding arbitration with the state college faculty and librarians."