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UMass Boston Community Members Protest Parking Rate Increases

University of Massachusetts Boston community members protested what they call substantial parking rate increases on Wednesday.

Students, faculty, staff unions, and allies gathered at 7 a.m. at the new West Garage for picketing, ahead of a noon rally.

Protestors addressed the negative effects parking rate increases can have on the community. They asked community members to boycott on-campus parking for the day.

"To raise our parking fees from $6 to $15 a day is just criminal," said Juan Blanco who commutes from Worcester for his graduate degree.

The increase is another expense he has to add to his already growing list at the public university.

"I can't afford to pay these prices so I park 20 minutes away in Dorchester and walk which is adding another hour to my already 3-hour commute."

The protest was organized by The Coalition to Save UMB, a coalition comprised of staff and faculty and endorsed by the Faculty Council.

"It’s unconscionable that a public university specifically reaching out to commuter students would significantly boost the cost of parking on campus and at a lot off-site that is serviced by a shuttle bus," Anneta Argyres, president of the Professional Staff Union, said in a statement. "Students and staff should not have to shoulder the cost of a new garage because our old garage was not built properly."

After the rally, protesters marched to the chancellor's office hoping to get her to listen to their concerns. She was not available.

Parking rates at UMass Boston have increased from $6 to $15 a day for most garages. Organizers of the rally say that the fees "unfairly target the campus’s lowest-paid employees," due to the university's removal of reduced rate and multi-use passes.

Schools officials told NBC10 Boston anyone buying a parking pass would get the best deal with only a 30 cent daily increase. They also said it hasn't raised parking prices since 2004.

"They do have these parking passes but they only make sense if you are here five or four days a week on campus but most of us again that have full-time jobs are here 3 times a week," said Blanco.

School officials said they will continue to bargain with the union on parking rates which have not yet been finalized.

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