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My union, in our most recent contract negotiations, settled the economic parameters early -- very early -- in time for them to be included in the actual state budget negotiations, which is unprecedented in the time that I've been at the University. This means that, rather than having to hope for some supplemental spending bill to activate our contracts (which we have sometimes had to wait for years), there is every likelihood our new contract will take effect immediately. I credit both my union, which organized a grass-roots campaign to the push for this, and the new UMass system president Robert Caret. However, due to the expedited schedule, we were unable to discuss a number of additional issues and, instead, agreed to separate bargaining committees to discuss these issues subsequently. I agreed to serve on the committee bargaining for issues related to non-tenure-track faculty. We met today for the first session of negotiations.

Our MTA representative had encouraged us to develop a set of principles that could serve as the basis for our proposals and this strategy seemed effective for focusing discussion today. We haven't resolved any issues yet, but I thought it generated fruitful discussion.

I was also impressed with leadership of the administration team, who listened carefully to our issues and spoke carefully in response. Afterwards, I spoke briefly to him and mentioned how much I learned about the circumstances on different campuses and in different disciplines by participating in discussions like this.

The next step will be to continue discussions on our local campuses and return to the main table toward the end of June, hopefully to wrap issues up. It's an interesting and productive experience.