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UMass Amherst unions question university plan to privatize more than 100 jobs

The campus of UMass Amherst in Amherst, Massachusetts.
Nirvani Williams
/
NEPM
The campus of UMass Amherst in Amherst, Massachusetts.

Unions at UMass Amherst are crying foul over a plan by the university to privatize the jobs of more than 100 employees who work in fundraising.

The employees work for the university's advancement office. UMass wants them to move to a private foundation. The move means employees would lose their union benefits, including future contributions to state pensions.

In a statement UMass officials have said the move is necessary to comply with state law.

"This process is solely driven by legal and regulatory compliance requirements," the statement reads.

But Brad Turner, who is the co-chair of the Professional Staff Union in Amherst, said that's only because of changes the university is making to fundraising at UMass.

"These positions are state work," he said. "This is the flagship campus of the University of Massachusetts system. Our workers took these jobs because they are state positions. They wanted the benefits associated with state positions and unions."

Turner said the unions are planning to hold a rally on the UMass campus on Monday.

Note: The license for NEPM’s main radio signal is held by UMass Amherst. The newsroom operates independently.

Before joining New England Public Media, Alden was a producer for the CBS NEWS program 60 Minutes. In that role, he covered topics ranging from art, music and medicine to business, education and politics.