The Organizing Committee of a coalition of Union members and students from UMass Boston met to debrief about an action that occurred at the Board of Trustees meeting a week prior, on Wednesday, September 16. As the meeting neared an end, the group began to discuss the fair share initiative, one of the solutions UMass Boston Unions support to alleviate the fee increase issue.
This initiative would create an amendment to the Massachusetts State Constitution that would add an additional 4% tax on incomes over $1 Million. The revenue generated from this tax would then be distributed between public transportation and education. This increase in funding for education should decrease the likelihood of raising fees.
Tom Goodkind, president of the Professional Staff Union, (PSU) stated during the organizing meeting that Unions cared deeply about fee increases. He also added, “We want to start a buzz around campus on fee increases.” It might seem hard not to start a buzz with UMass fees increasing 5-8% across the system for fall 2015.
During the Wednesday Board of Trustees meeting, public commenters and even some of the members of the Board explained why these fee increases would be so burdensome. Marlene Kim, president of the Faculty Staff Union (FSU), described the pre-fee increase conditions some of her students faced: “I have students that have no heat in their apartments and sometimes no food to eat.”
The decision made by the Board of Trustees of UMass to raise fees comes after a two-year freeze. The Trustees argued that without increased state funding, the fee increase became unavoidable. On the other hand, the fair share amendment, supporters argue, will be able to bring in a substantial amount of money to the UMass system.
As a 4% tax, the amendment would generate an estimated $1 Billion in revenue. However, more public dialogue will need to occur in regards to the benefits and costs associated with the fair share amendment.
President of the Classified Staff Union, Janelle Quarles, said, “We’re Boston’s only public university and it seems that eventually the public won’t be able to afford to come here.”