Salary increases for non-union UMass staff members cancelled

By Stuart Foster

Judith Gibson-Okunieff/Daily Collegian
(Judith Gibson-Okunieff/Daily Collegian)

University of Massachusetts system President Marty Meehan has cancelled salary increases for employees working in the President’s Office and the Central Administration of the UMass system.

The pay hikes are being cancelled for the University system to cover a $10.9 million budget shortfall, said UMass Director of Communications Ann Scales.

“This decision affects 286 non-union staff members who were set to receive a 1.75 percent salary increase at the end of January,” Scales said in a statement.

Meehan told the Board of Trustees that the cancellation of the pay hikes would save the UMass system $548,288 and prevent a reduction in the quality of the universities, according to an article in the Boston Herald.

The decision to cancel the salary increases comes after Meehan’s approval of $10.9 million to be allocated for retroactive and future pay raises in September, which had been negotiated between the unionized workers at UMass and the state of Massachusetts.

In September, Meehan said he was confident that the Massachusetts state legislature would increase funding to UMass in order to help cover the $10.9 million, which Meehan approved to be taken from the UMass system budget.

However, the Massachusetts State Senate did not approve the additional funding, necessitating that all of money be allocated from the UMass system budget.

Meehan has said that $10.9 million in budget cuts must be enacted in 2016 to afford the pay raises to union members. Of the sum, he said that $5 million will come from the Amherst campus.

The cancellation of salary increases to the 286 staff members comes after multiple members of the UMass administration received pay raises in 2015.

The raises included a $19,000 annual increase for UMass Executive Vice President James Julian Jr. Julian now earns $371,384 annually and Vice President of Communications Robert Connolly now earns $211,569 per year after receiving a raise as well.

While University officials said the pay raises were on track to relatively match general raises for all of the UMass employees, UMass union representatives criticized the hikes as being more excessive than the cost of living hikes they said they had fought for.

The UMass system administration was also criticized for moving into a new office in Beacon Hill, which the Boston Herald reported cost $1.5 million more in rent than the office’s current location on Franklin Street in Boston.

Meehan said the move was justified by the rising costs of the Franklin Street location and that the UMass Club, also housed there, would be benefitted by the move.

Stuart Foster can be reached at [email protected] or followed on Twitter @Stuart_C_Foster.