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Massachusetts teachers union calls UMass spending cuts “destructive”

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Katie Lannan
State House News Service

Members of the Massachusetts Teachers Association plan to fight budget cuts at the University of Massachusetts, which the teacher’s union leadership says will weaken the five-campus system.

In response to the financial squeeze associated with the COVID-19 crisis, UMass trustees on Monday approved a $3.3 billion budget that freezes tuition, and cuts workforce spending by about $163 million and non-personnel costs by $92 million. The university will cut about 6 percent of its full-time equivalent workforce and furlough thousands.

“It is utterly nonsensical and indeed destructive to cut jobs and programs on our UMass campuses,” MTA Vice President Max Page, an architecture professor at UMass Amherst, said in a statement Monday night. “The UMass Board of Trustees took steps today that will weaken UMass and shut down opportunities that people desperately need if our Commonwealth is to succeed and help working families.”

Union president Merrie Najimy called the workforce reductions a “misguided plan” that “will be a blow to our students, our communities and the families of hardworking public employees, as well as the employees themselves.”

“The members of the MTA will fight these cuts and demand from the federal and state governments the funding that our public schools and colleges need,” Najimy said. “Our members are the protectors of our campuses. We will not allow a disconnected Board of Trustees to do irreparable harm to the essential institutions that are our public colleges and universities.”

Union officials back “a progressive tax plan that targets highly profitable corporations and extremely wealthy investors in order to raise the revenues the state needs.” Components of that plan include raising taxes by two percentage points on dividends and capital gains and increasing the tax on corporate profits to 9.5 percent from 8 percent.

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