Massachusetts Daily Collegian

‘Justice for Lowell’ union fights for adjunct healthcare

Union of adjunct faculty members at UMass Lowell pushes for increased healthcare benefits

%28Courtesy+of+UMass+Lowell+official+Facebook+page%29
(Courtesy of UMass Lowell official Facebook page)

(Courtesy of UMass Lowell official Facebook page)

(Courtesy of UMass Lowell official Facebook page)

By Gretchen Keller, Assistant News Editor

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The University of Massachusetts Lowell’s adjunct faculty union launched a campaign titled “Justice for Lowell” in June, demanding that adjunct professors at the University receive health insurance. The union claims that University President Marty Meehan “refuses to fund or negotiate a fair contract for hundreds of UMass Lowell professors” regarding their healthcare.

According to a press release from “Justice for Lowell” on Aug. 13, a series of ads will broadcast during prime time and daytime television during the summer and fall on stations such as CNN, History and MSNBC.

UMass Lowell is the only campus within the UMass system that does not offer health insurance and retirement benefits to adjunct professors, according to the union’s website.

Multiple adjunct faculty members in the new ads claim they’ve been working without a contract for more than three years, in addition to being denied health insurance and retirement benefits.

In one video advertisement, UMass Lowell adjunct professor Tess George describes the death of her UML colleague, Dr. Eric Bourgeois in 2016. Bourgeois was 63.

“I remember when he started coughing, we all urged him to go to the doctor,” George said. “But he couldn’t because he knew he couldn’t afford a visit or any kind of treatment. By the time he was diagnosed with lung cancer, it was too late.”

“The city of Lowell deserves better. Our students deserve better,” Jerome Stover, an adjunct faculty member of the music department at Lowell, said in an ad.

Jeff Cournoyer, Meehan’s spokesman, said in a statement to the Lowell Sun, “The campuses negotiate directly with their bargaining units and President Meehan supports UMass Lowell’s ongoing effort to bargain in good faith with its adjunct faculty union.”

James Moran, a senior adjunct professor in the UML College of Engineering, said to the Lowell Sun, “At other UMass campuses, adjunct professors are eligible for healthcare, dental, and retirement benefits.”

“At Lowell, the administration has rigged the system to prevent educators from accruing course credits, and even those who surpass the credit threshold are still denied benefits,” Moran added.

Gretchen Keller can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @gretchenkellerr.

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