We have two bits of news to report from this week’s bargaining. The main topic was the BOT’s counterproposal on Article 13, Layoffs. The teams also agreed to sign a Memorandum of Agreement guaranteeing that Promotion increases and Sustained Performance Increases will go through in early August, regardless of the status of on-going negotiations.
Guaranteed Promotion and SPI raises are great news that will allow many faculty to heave sighs of relief. Unfortunately, the BOT proposal on the Layoffs and Recall article will not have the same effect.
You can find that proposal here. While this document does not show changes from the UFF’s most recent proposal because the BOT did not use traditional legislative markup style (track changes), we will provide that version upon request. It’s clear that the BOT responded to none of our proposals but instead rewrote the article from scratch to include only their desired terms. Below we summarize three key differences between the BOT proposal and the language that has been in place for years.
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The FSU-BOT team and the UFF-FSU teams met on Wednesday to continue regular bargaining. The main topic was the MOU on the Pilot Tuition Scholarship Program for Dependents and Spouses. Both sides are pleased to announce that we reached agreement!
This MOU offers major improvements over the version we had agreed to for the past two years. Now, instead of applying only to children of a faculty member, it covers a spouse, as well, and instead of paying only for undergraduate tuition, it also pays for graduate tuition. You can read the agreement here.
This revised program is a boon to many current faculty members and also will be a selling point to job candidates considering our job offers.
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Last Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement issued new federal guidelines barring international students from staying in the United States if they attend online-only courses this fall. The guidelines mandate that any international students who are enrolled in online-only courses either transfer to in-person courses or risk “immigration consequences including, but not limited to, the initiation of removal proceedings.”
This policy is not motivated by concern for our students, but rather by political considerations. It is reckless, guileless, and careless. It will endanger the physical safety and well-being of not only our international students but also our domestic students if classes are required to be in-person this fall.
Florida State University has demonstrated throughout this crisis that they are leaders in preserving student, faculty, and staff safety. If this policy is left unchallenged, many of our international students will be forced to discontinue their education at FSU. International students who teach classes, run labs, grade papers, and collaborate with faculty on important research would be eliminated. With the fall schedule already in place, the loss of these students would be an administrative nightmare.
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We would like to state our support for FSU’s transgender employees in their pursuit of healthcare coverage as it pertains to their medical needs. “Transgender” includes people who are transsex and/or gender nonbinary. Currently, health insurance offered to employees, as regulated by the Florida Department of Management Services, discriminates against transgender personnel. The Supreme Court’s recent ruling confirms that the 1964 Civil Rights Act protects gay, lesbian, and transgender employees from discrimination based on sex. The ruling makes it clear that FSU is responsible for mitigating any discrimination against its employees. We urge FSU’s administration to remedy this issue as expediently as possible by providing non-discriminatory health insurance coverage for transgender employees.
The FSU Board of Trustees (BOT) team and the UFF-FSU team, along with 21 faculty visitors, met on Wednesday for a discussion of Layoff and Recall, Tapered Employment, and the Tuition Scholarship for Dependents/Spouses.
Before the meeting, the BOT team let us know they were pulling their last Layoffs proposal to work on it more, so the UFF took that opportunity to submit a newer version of ours for them to respond to. We are trying to hasten bargaining, as we know faculty are worried about layoffs and would like to see a resolution. Our new Layoff proposal offers a definition of “Layoff unit” similar to the existing contract language, and the teams engaged in a thoughtful discussion of “areas” and “programs” and will work together to clarify this crucial language.
The BOT put the kibosh on the UFF’s Tapered Employment proposal that had sought to enhance the financial position of faculty over 60 working less than full-time. They stood by their counter proposal, which offers no advantages over what is already available.
We have good news to report! The BOT countered a UFF Benefits proposal with a Memorandum of Understanding about the Tuition Scholarship for Dependents/Spouses. This counter accepted our proposal to allow the scholarship to extend to spouses (before it had only been children) and to include graduate credit hours (before it had been only undergraduate). This is an important family-friendly benefit, and we are eager to sign (with small alterations). We’re withholding flat-out enthusiasm, however, just in case the BOT seeks to link implementation to unpalatable changes in other articles on the table.
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