UMass, Honor Your Agreements!

UMass Amherst Chancellor Subbaswamy

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Last Thursday, we were told by management that we must agree to long furloughs (which are, effectively, temporary layoffs) for hundreds of PSU and USA staff members at UMass Amherst in the coming weeks, with a couple of additional rounds of furloughs and potentially some permanent layoffs to follow this year.

We want to make it clear: we do not accept these outrageous demands as legitimate acts of bargaining, and they must stop. We call on the administration to return to the bargaining table in good faith, honoring our main contract and six COVID-19 agreements. In our agreements, hammered out over years of contract bargaining and months of daily negotiations during COVID-19, the administration must share financial information and explore a number of alternative cost-saving measures with us.

While we have not been given a reason for this dangerous and disrespectful shift from Chancellor Subbaswamy and the UMass Amherst administration, we note that it mirrors calls for deep cuts at the other UMass campuses this past week. Because of this timing, we believe that they may be responding to pressure from the very top—UMass President Marty Meehan and the UMass Board of Trustees—to implement the board’s recently passed “balanced” (austerity) budget for FY2021 that would require the campuses to resort to layoffs and cuts rather than using reserves to weather this generational crisis.

Regardless of the reason, this behavior by the UMass Amherst administration is extraordinarily damaging to our ability to trust them and threatens the breakdown of negotiations.

Right now, we need your help in sending a message directly to Chancellor Subbaswamy by signing this petition:


As supporters of the unions at UMass Amherst, we call upon the administration to protect UMass employees and negotiate in good faith. In particular, we demand:


• No workers should be laid off or furloughed before federal stimulus funds become available, and until alternative, humane, and voluntary cost-saving measures are negotiated with the unions.  

• Open the books and provide us with a complete accounting of the financial need for staffing cuts.

• Honor your agreements. In signed contracts with our unions, the administration promised to maintain a collaborative relationship and to avoid layoffs by exploring multiple alternative cost saving measures.

If the administration can’t lead, then we have to accept that we are facing a leadership crisis in addition to COVID-19. And if so, it is time for us to come together and discuss how we can provide the direction that our university desperately needs. During this difficult time, the efforts of elected union leaders like us won’t be enough. Together, we will need to talk about what we are all willing to do as we stand against threats, dishonesty, and bad management.


We will not stay silent while the administration threatens us with drastic and dangerous actions because they won’t or can’t stand up to Marty Meehan and the Board of Trustees.

Together in union, we demand that UMass Amherst honor its agreements with us.

In Solidarity,

Risa Silverman and Brad Turner, Co-Chairs, PSU Amherst.

Leslie Marsland, President, USA.

Eve Weinbaum, President, MSP.


Sponsored by

To: UMass Amherst Chancellor Subbaswamy
From: Eve Weinbaum

As supporters of the unions at UMass Amherst, we call upon the administration to protect UMass employees and negotiate in good faith. In particular, we demand:

• No workers should be laid off or furloughed before federal stimulus funds become available, and until alternative, humane, and voluntary cost-saving measures are negotiated with the unions.

• Open the books and provide us with a complete accounting of the financial need for staffing cuts.

• Honor your agreements. In signed contracts with our unions, the administration promised to maintain a collaborative relationship and to avoid layoffs by exploring multiple alternative cost saving measures.