Special Collections and University Archives, W.E.B. Du Bois Library, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Massachusetts State Employees' Association (MSEA). University of Massachusetts Chapter Records
The Massachusetts State Employees' Association (MSEA) was founded in 1943 to protest proposed changes in the Massachusetts state employees' retirement system. On May 21, 1964, the University of Massachusetts Employees' Association (UMEA) was chartered by the MSEA. The UMEA's relationship with the MSEA was loose. The MSEA local chapters were completely autonomous. Every chapter had an Institution officer who served as liaison between the MSEA and the local chapter. The UMEA's purpose was to protect the rights of employees at the University of Massachusetts in all matters affecting their employment. However, state employees in Massachusetts were not permitted to bargain collectively until the enactment of Chapter 149, Section 178F on July 1, 1964.
In 1966, the MSEA petitioned the Massachusetts Labor Relations Commission (MLRC) to become the exclusive bargaining agent for all non-professional employees at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) also petitioned the MLRC to become the elected representative for the same group of employees. The result of this election was split and a run-off election was held in May 1969. This second election resulted in MSEA becoming the exclusive bargaining agent for the administrative, clerical, and technical employees at the University of Massachusetts.
The UMEA worked to improve wages, to increase job security, and to safeguard employee health insurance programs. The UMEA negotiated its first collective bargaining agreement in 1970. This contract expired in 1973. It was not until 1976 that the UMEA successfully negotiated its second contract. During the three year span in which members worked without a contract, the UMEA continued activity on such issues as job classifications, and fought to keep employee parking fees at a minimum. The UMEA also survived a decertification drive led by AFSCME Local 1776.
In January 1977, the MSEA affiliated with the National Association of Government Employees (NAGE) to become the MSEA/NAGE. The UMEA officers opposed this merger and led a successful decertification drive against the MSEA/NAGE.
In December 1977, the Massachusetts Teachers Association was certified as the exclusive bargaining agent for the administrative, clerical, and technical employees at the University of Massachusetts. The local chapter is the University Staff Association.
Key figures in UMEA were Joseph Deschenes, who was the first president, and Bernard Turner, who served as president from 1972 until MSEA's decertification in December 1977.