AMHERST, Mass. (WWLP) – The Massachusetts State Treasurer has officially condemned UMass Amherst’s attempts to privatize over 100 positions.

Deborah Goldberg and members of the Massachusetts State Retirement Board (MSRB) moved to unambiguously end speculation that they were involved in efforts by the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

During public comments at the monthly MSRB meeting, Goldberg said that the university should “work with their employees” and “work with the union” to resolve the situation, according to a news release sent to 22News from UMass Amherst.

This is all caused by a rebuke of the university’s privatization effort by State Senator Jo Comerford and State Representative Mindy Domb, who issued a statement on Tuesday saying they “are gravely concerned” with UMass’s privatization plan.

“We are not convinced that UMass Amherst’s plan to restructure is needed, said Comerford and Domb.

They asked the UMass administration to, “reexamine options with two priority objectives: 1) to secure the retirements of these public employees, and 2) to achieve a resolution that addresses any issues that UMass Amherst may face without forcing its employees to bear the cost with their retirements or their careers.”

The school’s actions too are unprecedented and attempt to transition the division’s $13 million budget into a private foundation since December 2022. The scope and the tactics of this privatization scheme are unprecedented at the campus and the moves are expected to have a negative effect on the students, tuition-paying families, and taxpayers.

UMass Amherst had stated in comments to the press that its efforts to privatize these positions had been “solely driven by legal and regulatory compliance requirements” that “could, if unaddressed, impact employees’ eligibility to participate in the Massachusetts State Employee
Retirement System and the optional retirement plan.” The university also said that “All of the positions moving to the UMass Amherst Foundation were determined to have compliance
issues that put employees’ pension and retirement eligibility at risk.”

Members of the MSRB made it clear that past pension creditable service is not a concern for UMass Amherst Advancement employees and the board had nothing to do with any effort to privatize positions at the UMass Amherst.

MSRB General Counsel Melinda Troy made it clear that the university self-reported the supposed issue to the MSRB. “As far as I know, we’ve been given no information other than a letter from a law firm hired by UMass,” said Board member Theresa McGoldrick. Treasurer Goldberg said, “I want to reiterate that all credible service is being verified—and that is not being questioned.”

“This situation is clearly and absolutely 100% UMass Amherst’s responsibility,” Goldberg
said, adding that Advancement employees “have been confronted with a confusing, disruptive, and stressful situation for them and their families.”

The statements by the Treasurer and the state retirement board put an end to the university’s deception. Their justification to privatize these jobs holds no water,” said Andrew Gorry, co-chair of the Professional Staff Union at UMass Amherst. “The university is still bound by its agreements with the union around the Advancement division, and no state agency is going to rescue them from their obligation to bargain with the unions.”