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The Point: Act Now!


Greetings Colleagues,

Subject: Contract Action Team: Act Now!

Action Item: Consider Joining It! Please email and if you have interest by end of day February 2nd.

First off: I write this with the fondest hope that you have been well since the Point went on hiatus for winter break. 

It is an exciting time to be a part of the labor movement, and in coming weeks we hope to find the time and space to open a conversation about some of the many positive actions around the country in the past few months that should inspire us all.  But for this week we want to focus on our own local and the reality that in the coming months we will begin bargaining (yes, again!) with management at UMB. 

We warned you back in October that before long we would come knocking to ask you to consider becoming a member of our Contract Action Team (CAT).

Knock, Knock.

But the joke stops there.  Because the Contract Action team is serious business: it is utterly crucial to the success of our Core Bargaining Team (CBT) and—by extension—to creating the best workplace and learning environment for all at UMB.

What IS a Contract Action Team? 

The short version (and sorry for getting meta) is that in the bargaining process the Contract Action Team does the work of teachers, librarians, and scholars.  It’s true! The CAT is responsible for doing research about issues that come up in bargaining, communicating its findings to the CBT, and doing outreach to the general membership (aka “teaching”). It can play a crucial role in educating the membership and taking some of the burdens off of the CBT.  If you want more insight into what a CAT can and should do, have a look at Jane McAlevey and Abby Lawlor’s Turning the Tide.

There is a song by country singer Miranda Lambert that I really treasure, whose chorus goes “to keep the world spinning, it takes all kinds of kinds”: this is going to be my first time leading a contract action team but I’m already pretty sure that it will take all kinds of kinds to make us successful.  We need dedicated researchers who thrive when they get to work alone to get the job done; we need rabble rousers who never feel more at home than when they are in the middle of a crowd; we need data nerds, translators, patient instructors, number crunchers, historians, empaths, detail freaks and big picture communicators. 

Are you any of those things? Or have other skills you think you could bring to the team? Please write us by the end of the day on February 2nd to express your interest in joining--just a couple of sentences about what you think you can bring to the team and what kind of tasks you can imagine taking on. Here's one thing that I can promise you: if you volunteer for this you can put in as much or as little work as you can comfortably manage.  (And I should note that if you are accountable for doing service on campus, this certainly counts!)

You know who doesn’t have a Contract Action Team? Our administration. You know why? They don’t need one: they already control the main levers of power—the budgets, the access to the Board of Trustees, the private contact info of the most powerful people in the Commonwealth.  But you know what we have—if we only choose to exercise it? The power of the collective.  If we keep our eyes on the common good, operating in concert with our sibling unions on campus and remembering that our working conditions are our students’ learning conditions, we are very likely to have a wildly successful bargaining season.

This is your union. Please let us know at if you have any questions about the work of the Contract Action Team.


Jeff Melnick

FSU Vice President

Professor, American Studies

For information on the FSU, links to our contract and bargaining updates, and a calendar of events, see the FSU webpage