Questions of the Month

Question of the Month

April 2023

Question: An APA staff member* has left work and I have had to take on some or all of their job duties. When do I qualify for additional pay for doing this? What are my next steps?

Answer: The first step is to get it in writing that you are expected to assume these duties. Once the time that you have been asked to take these duties on has eclipsed 20 days, you are then eligible for acting pay (minimum of $100/week). You are eligible for this pay when you have taken over duties “as a replacement for a person on educational leave or appointed to an acting position at a higher rank than their present position or holding a second appointment in an acting position”. If you have difficulty getting this processed with your supervisor or Human Resources, please contact your Chapter President or Chapter Grievance Officer for assistance.

*You should never be asked to do work assigned to another union i.e. AFSCME; that is a labor violation.

January 2023

Question: What is Higher Ed for All Advocacy Day?

Answer: On Tuesday, February 28, 2023, the Massachusetts Teachers’ Association (MTA) is hosting a day of action at the Massachusetts State House from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. This event will call attention to the goals of fully funding community colleges, state universities and UMass campuses to implement a debt-free college plan, expand existing programs, promote recruitment and retention of staff and faculty (including revamping the parameters process), and returning to the historic model of public funding for public buildings on campuses. Registration can be found here.

Bus transportation to this event is available for some schools, you can sign up for MTA-Sponsored bus transportation here.

July 2022

Question: What is the process to request my grievance be arbitrated? Who makes the decision to arbitrate a grievance? Will I get a chance to present my grievance?

Answer: As the exclusive representative of the unionized positions in the APA, the APA Executive Board considers grievances cases that have been denied through the two grievance steps to be considered for arbitration. The APA Executive Board convenes emergency meetings in accordance with our bylaws for consideration of cases for arbitration. During these meetings, the APA Executive Board listens to the evidence and documents, including the grievances filed by the local chapter and the responses from management at the university the grievance was filed at. Should the grievant wish to present as well, this would be the time when they could present as well. After listening to the evidence, the APA Executive Board enters into Executive Session to discuss the personnel matter. The Board then exits executive to take a vote to send the case to arbitration. Once the matter of the arbitration is settled, the minutes of the executive session can be published.

March 2022

Question: I retired or resigned since June 30, 2020.  Am I eligible for retroactive pay for the contractual raises in our current 2020-2023 contract?  Am I eligible for the COVID bonus?


  • To be eligible for the contractual raise that is effective July 2020, you must have been employed from July 1, 2020 through June 30, 2021.  If you retired between July 1, 2020 and June 30, 2021, you are also eligible and the amount due to you will be adjusted to reflect the time worked during that fiscal year.  If you resigned or were terminated before June 30, 2021, you would not be eligible for the July 1, 2020 2.5% increase.
  • To be eligible for the July 1, 2021 2.0% increase, you must have been employed as of the first pay period of July 2021, which started July 4, 2021.  No other restrictions or qualifications were attached to this increase, so if you retired, resigned, or left employment with the state universities after July 4, 2021, you would be eligible for this increase on any wages for this pay period and after.
  • To be eligible for the 1.5% COVID bonus, you must have been employed from July 1, 2021 through September 20, 2021.  If you left employment prior to September 20, 2021, regardless of the reason, you will not be eligible for this bonus.
  • On the first pay period of July 2022: a 2% increase for all unit members who are then employed.

august 2020

Q: I have more than 375 hours of accrued vacation time.  What will happen with the extra hours.

A: Thanks largely to the circumstances surrounding the Corona Virus Pandemic, employees have been adjusting to teleworking and the new demands of remotely providing service to their institutions.  Knowing that increased workload would affect employees' ability to take extended vacation, the union asked for and was given an extension to use excess vacation hours (over the 375-hour limit) in 2020.  The deadline was pushed to June 2021.

Please work with your supervisors and HR departments to accommodate the new deadlines.  If you request and are denied the use of vacation time, please remember to record all requests and responses in writing.  If you are denied a specific requested time, please offer an alternative (also in writing).  Our Agreement has a provision to help you in either overriding a decision to deny vacation or provide a buyout of the have made an effort to request and use the time.

Going forward, on January 1, 2021, the maximum number of vacation hours that can be accrued will be 375.  Hours exceeding the 375 limit will be forfeited twice per year (May 1 and November 1).  Although we hope that HR departments will provide notice of impending forfeitures, it is important that you track your time and remain responsible for it.

January 2020

What do you want to learn on Advocacy Day?

What issues would you like brought to the attention of the state legislature on Higher Ed Advocacy Day, Monday, March 2, 2020?

On Advocacy Day, representatives from all of the Higher Ed Unions and students converge on the statehouse and let legislators know of their, let us know what message you'd like delivered to Beacon Hill by sending your responses to

October 2019

What is happening with Paid Family Medical Leave from the Union’s perspective?

To date, and over the course of three bargaining meetings concerning PFML, the APA, along with sister-unions MCCC and MSCA have only agreed about process of notifying employees of the impending deduction from their bi-weekly pay.

No Massachusetts state-employee bargaining unit has agreed to or signed off on the payment split (state vs. employee on either Medical Leave <60/40> or Family Leave <100% employee>).  The Coalition of BHE unions has offered that the Employer (state of Massachusetts) pay 100% of the cost of this “insurance”.  We have additionally offered that the State could then collect the benefit, should an employee apply.

The reason for the reticence to agree upon terms is that we, as state employees in Higher ED, actually enjoy a better benefit than what is being offered – through our Sick Leave accruals and the potential to use Sick Leave Banks.  We seek to be exempted from this program. 

The difficulty comes when not all “employees” of a given Employer (in this case, the State of Massachusetts) are offered the same benefit.  If everyone is NOT entitled to the same benefit, then the Employer and its workforce cannot be granted an exception.  We’re diligently arguing about this point. Within Higher Ed, our part time employees do not have the same benefit, nor do other agencies of the state.  If necessary, this argument will continue into the individual contract bargaining sessions.

Although we have not signed off on the terms of the payroll deduction, because this new program is LAW, the deductions began on the October 4 pay week.  And yes… we know and have filed against the state… for deducting this tax from a pay period that included September.

Use this calculator to find what you will pay into PFML

May 2019

Q. What is the process for changing APA member job Descriptions?

A. (Please refer to Article III, (Workload of Administrators) Section A (Duties and Responsibilities: Job Descriptions) for complete details.

In a nutshell, the APA Agreement stipulates that every administrator shall have a written job description.  Every member should have received a copy of the written job description upon hire, at the midpoint of the provisional period of service (6-months review) and it should be reviewed and acknowledged at each annual evaluation cycle.

As duties and responsibilities grow and change, it is important to make sure these alterations are documented in the latest job description.  The President or his/her designee at an Institution may amend or alter a job description, to reflect changes in the organization or department.  These changes must be explained and presented to the employee prior to implementation.  This includes providing a written copy of the altered job description.  The employee is granted seven (7) working days to request a meeting with the President or his/her designee to voice any objections to the altered job description.  The President has fourteen (14) calendar days in which to respond.

Employees can only be evaluated on items present in their current job description.

April 2019

Q. Do I have to do my bi-annual Employee Narrative?


A. Yes.  It is a requirement.  But, more importantly, it allows APA members to set the tone and the agenda for their Annual Review.  By reviewing and documenting both your accomplishments and hindrances to completing tasks and projects, you remind your supervisor about just how much work has been DONE in the half year (more or less) since you last recorded the progress of your goals.  It is often a humbling thing to see in writing!  You also let your supervisor know that interruptions and other responsibilities can derail the best intentions you had in scheduling due dates and milestones in the projects you agree to undertake. 

This is the first time in an evaluation process where an APA member has the power to direct what information makes it to their official employee record.   It also affords all of us a way highlight what we do successfully – and just how much we’re all really doing in our day-to-day work.

It is difficult to remember all that happens in the workplace in half a year – make sure your supervisor knows all that you accomplish by doing your part in the evaluation process!

March 2019

Q. Should employee and supervisor be required to meet after both Bi-Annual evaluation narratives are submitted by the APA member to the Administrative Area Supervisor (November and April)?


A. The intention of the new evaluation process it to promote communication between employees and supervisors. Ideally, after the first bi-annual report is submitted there would be some kind of acknowledgement of the report.  If there is any dispute about the content of the first narrative – a broader follow-up discussion should be conducted.  It is required that a meeting be held after both narratives have been completed in April - and prior to the full evaluation package being submitted to HR for the employee record in June