Powerful New Ad Underscores Lack of Health Care for UMass Lowell Adjunct Faculty

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Powerful New Ad Underscores Lack of Health Care for UMass Lowell Adjunct Faculty

Monday, August 13, 2018

Contact on behalf of UMass Lowell Union of Adjunct Faculty: Libby Smelker
(617) 485-4801

Powerful New Ad Underscores Lack of Health Care for UMass Lowell Adjunct Faculty

Marty Meehan and UMass Lowell’s scheme to deny adjunct professors health insurance has consequences for UMass Lowell adjunct professors who are forced to go without coverage.

Watch television ad below.

Eric’s Story: Justice for Lowell.

Lowell, MA – In a powerful new ad released today, an adjunct professor shares the tragic story of her UMass Lowell colleague, Dr. Eric Bourgeois whose cancer grew worse while a lack of health insurance curtailed his access to care.

The ad will air during prime-time and daytime television on top-rated television stations including CNN, History, MSNBC, NESN, and more.

The spot takes on UMass President Marty Meehan’s adamant refusal to provide health insurance to adjunct faculty members, who make up an increasing percentage of the UMass Lowell campus’ teaching corps, despite providing those same benefits to adjunct faculty in Boston and Amherst. In the moving ad, Professor Tess George shares the story of former UMass Lowell Professor Dr. Eric Bourgeois.

For years, Marty Meehan, first as chancellor of UMass Lowell and later as University of Massachusetts system president, has singled out UMass Lowell adjunct professors by excluding them from the same access to health insurance offered to adjunct faculty members at other UMass campuses.

In recent contract negotiations, a lawyer representing the university reportedly told the professors they would “never” get health insurance under any circumstances. The university is also facing federal unfair labor practice charges (ULPs) for covertly instructing departments to limit course assignments to adjunct professors to prevent them from gaining eligibility for health insurance. For years, the university has attempted to evade offering its adjunct faculty members health and retirement benefits by categorizing them as “temporary employees” even though most of them have taught at UMass Lowell for many years, with some still being labeled “temporary” after teaching there for decades.

This has left a key part of the campus teaching faculty struggling to pay exorbitant premiums for health insurance on the open market or being forced to go without essential care. This was a choice Eric was forced to make.

“I remember when he started coughing, we all urged [Eric] to go to the doctor. But he couldn’t because he knew he couldn’t afford a visit or any kind of treatment… I was with him when he passed away. He was 63 years old,” says Prof. George, a “temporary” adjunct professor who has taught at UMass Lowell for ten years. “This didn’t have to happen. If Eric had had health insurance, he could have gone to a doctor, and he could’ve been treated, and I think his life would’ve been extended.”

Patricia Bossi, a “temporary” engineering professor at Lowell for the past 18 years, pays $1,000 a month in health insurance premiums, but still can’t afford a much needed surgery.

“I’m in an impossible position. I spend so much money on premiums that I can’t afford to use it to go to the doctor or get the hip surgery I need. If I could find the money for the surgery, I can’t afford to take time off to recover because if I don’t work, I don’t get paid. This means I can’t afford to pay for my health insurance. There’s just no way to win in this situation.”

This ongoing campaign calling out Marty Meehan’s gross mistreatment of UMass Lowell adjunct faculty includes billboards, tv, radio, video and digital ads spanning Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, MASSterlist, iHeart radio, Pandora and more. The campaign will continue through the summer and into the fall semester. Future ads will highlight the lack of equity in the UMass system and the impact poor treatment of teaching faculty has on students.

For more information see https://justiceforlowell.org .

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