The Massachusetts Teachers Association web site describes president Barbara Madeloni as “on leave as a senior lecturer in the Labor Studies Department at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst.” But as EIA reported last April, Madeloni has never worked in the Labor Studies Department, has no office or presence there, and according to the terms of her unique agreement with the university, will never work there.
Now it looks like the Labor Studies Program itself may fade away, as UMass Amherst administrators have begun cutting its budget. Why? It isn’t making any money.
“Problems at the center, which offers master’s degrees in labor studies that train students in collective bargaining, workers’ rights, and the history of organized labor, seem to boil down to money and declining enrollment,” reported the Boston Globe.
The center’s former director, Eve Weinbaum, claims she was ousted by the university. “There is a reality to the economic situation, but I think to deal with it by making short-term decisions about what’s generating revenue and what’s not is a real mistake,” she said.
UMass claims the program has two new students this year and 16 total, down from 30 total a decade ago.
Labor activists are up in arms, and Madeloni included a shot at UMass in a recent email to MTA members. “The UMass Labor Center is one of the most respected labor centers in the country and has graduated staff and organizers within the MTA and our coalitions,” she wrote. “Cuts are underway that will reduce the Labor Center to a shadow of itself. Cuts are being implemented because the Labor Center is not generating income. The corporate university – as opposed to the public university – demands that programs become revenue generators. Under this demand it is more and more difficult to support programs that welcome and support a diversity of students, and it is too easy to eliminate programs that do not fit the ideological parameters of corporatists.”
So the program is prestigious and respected but students don’t enroll. It’s lacking money but the unions don’t help. It employs people who don’t work there. It really is a labor studies program.