July 2011 Bargaining Update

Negotiations between the UFF and the Board of Trustees (BOT) for the 2011-2012 began in late spring and are ongoing. Below are some key points about bargaining progress and what is on the agenda:

The UFF bargaining team is pleased to announce that we are near agreement on Across the Board raises (ATB). Last year, while negotiating the one-time-ATB payment, we proposed implementing a raise rather than a one-time-payment. The president said that he would try, and we are happy that he has now agreed to make last year’s bonus a raise to base salary. We appreciate the efforts on the part of the president and the Board of Trustees to find funding for raises, particularly in a year of drastic budget cuts and political intransigence at the state level. The president recognizes that the faculty deserve to be rewarded. A few important details remain to be resolved, but the UFF team has every intention of coming to an agreement by the August 5th deadline that the BOT team says is required so the raises will appear in the first paycheck of the academic year.

We have also reached agreement on implementing the provisions of the contract on the Salary Plan for Professors (SPP). All awardees should be notified this week and see the SPP increases in the first paycheck of the academic year. This implementation agreement was needed so that the administration will put not only the minimum $500K into these raises as specified in the contract, but add additional funds, around $107K, to grant the raises to all applicants deemed qualified in 2011. In return, the UFF team agreed that the SPP program will be suspended for the 2011-2012 academic year for financial reasons and to address problems in the initial implementation, particularly the administrative burden on faculty and administrators. We intend to negotiate for the program’s reinstatement for the 2012-13 year. The Memorandum of Agreement implementing the SPP is available at this link:

MOA on Salary Plan for Professors (July 18, 2011)

We are working hard on coming up with a full salary package as quickly as possible. We are optimistic about coming to a timely agreement, although we still need to iron out important details on promotion raises, Administrative Discretion (ADI), ATB raises, and on a merit bonus.

Regarding the merit bonus based on 2010 evaluations, the BOT team has proposed a forced distribution in each department/unit of $2,000 for the “top” 25%, $1,000 for the next 25%, and $0 for the next 50%. According to the BOT team at the bargaining session on July 18th, departments/units whose evaluations do not fit these criteria can redo them retroactively or forfeit the bonus. Such a plan is contrary to the contract, which is clear about how to distribute merit funding for 2010 annual evaluations. It is to be distributed according to “the faculty evaluation criteria and procedures established by departments/units” (Article 23.1(b)) and incorporated in their bylaws, not by a distribution scheme created after-the-fact.

The UFF also sees this proposal as contrary to the principle of shared governance. Departments/units have spent considerable time and effort in recent years writing evaluation and merit distribution procedures according to the standards of their disciplines and the unique circumstances of their units. These efforts are reflected in bylaws that have been approved by Deans and the Dean of the Faculties, and decisions made on the basis of those bylaws are binding. In sum, the UFF is taking the position that merit be distributed as specified in the contract: according to already-existing faculty-approved department/unit procedures. The UFF will continue to fight to uphold the contract on this issue.

Other matters: Negotiations commenced in May with discussions of academic freedom (Article 5) in view of recent national press reports of faculty emails being requested by outside parties and in light of the Koch Agreement controversy. (By the way, the UFF-FSU faculty consultation team had discussed possible problems with the Koch agreement in 2008. We did not see the agreement until this year, but some faculty members who knew of it brought some concerns to our attention. We were assured by the FSU administration at that time that those concerns were misplaced or overblown.) After some initial discussions, the teams agreed to table this topic pending the Faculty Senate committee report released this month, and we will return to this issue as soon as possible. The Faculty Senate report is available at this link:

Faculty Senate Report on Koch Agreement (July, 2011)

Finally, we have been discussing the evaluation of faculty performance (Article 10), and will return to it, too, after resolving salary issues.

We are optimistic about a timely settlement of salary issues, as noted above. Please be assured however, that the UFF faculty bargaining team will work hard to defend and advance FSU faculty interests and rights, and will “hang tough” on important principles, even if that means missing a unilateral deadline imposed by the BOT.

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