On Wednesday, the BOT and the UFF teams met, and the UFF took the occasion to remind the BOT that our 2019 negotiations called for making last year’s $1,500 bonus a permanent base pay increase if certain budget conditions were met, which they were. We were pleased the next day to see President Thrasher’s email announcing the raise, and are proud of having negotiated the language that made the raise a reality.
During the session, we reviewed the BOT’s proposed revisions to the Covid-19 Memorandum of Understandingand are unhappy to report that negotiations are going backwards. Language both teams had agreed to in the spring MOU and had remained intact in BOT’s early August proposal is gone, replaced with language that removes faculty autonomy. Here’s an example:
BOT’s earlier language: “During the emergency period, faculty members shall be permitted to work remotely, provided that the assigned duties are able to be accomplished remotely.”
BOT’s Wednesday proposal: “During the emergency period, faculty members may be permitted to work remotely, provided that the assigned duties are able to be accomplished remotely and approved by the supervisor.” (emphasis added)
In one ill-advised sentence, the BOT is trying to remove an established norm of faculty employment in universities: the right to work from home without seeking permission. Not only could a supervisor deny permission, but the use of the word “may” affords administration the right to prevent faculty from working remotely. Unacceptable.
BOT’s earlier language: “The University will provide appropriate disinfectant materials in each classroom, if adequate supplies are available. No faculty will be compelled to conduct class in a room that is not clean or that does not have appropriate cleaning materials provided.”
BOT’s Wednesday proposal: “The University will provide appropriate disinfectant materials in each classroom, if adequate supplies are available.
No faculty will be compelled to conduct class in a room that is not clean or that does not have appropriate cleaning materials provided.”
Why the strikeout? The BOT said that faculty members may have unreasonable standards of cleanliness and that the sentence wording is unclear.
What is clear is that the BOT now operates under the assumption that faculty members are trying to get away with something—working from home for unacceptable reasons, faking fastidiousness in order to cancel class—and need to be brought to heel.
We remain apart on other issues, as well.
We object to their striking our language that would protect faculty from discipline for cancelling a class when a student refuses to wear a mask.
We object to their insistence that faculty who need to report to work on campus but have a health vulnerability must submit details to HR because a doctor’s certification isn’t enough. In such cases, HR will bring all its health training to bear to determine, say, whether an asthma case is severe enough to merit remote work or instead merits only “physical distancing, alternative work locations, reassignment, modified or flexible schedules, and/or the use of personal leave.”
We object to the BOT’s willingness to provide only one free test, reserving the right to provide others only if the faculty member has had contact with a COVID-19 positive person in the workplace and only if HR approves.
We are bargaining again on Wednesday, August 19, on the topic of layoffs and perhaps other open articles (Leaves, Conflict of Interest, Salaries). We also have a session scheduled for August 26 at 2:00, topic to be announced.
Bargaining sessions are open to faculty, and negotiations have benefited from the many faculty who have been coming to sessions. There is definitely strength in numbers, and we appreciate having you! If you would like to attend, please respond to this message and we will send you the links when we receive them.
We also invite members to come to an online Bargaining Forum happy hour this Friday at 5:00. Members have received an invitation and zoom link from UFF President Matthew Lata.
The key to a strong Collective Bargaining Agreement is a strong membership base, so if you are not a member, please join! There has never been a more important time for us to stand together. http://uff-fsu.org/wp/join/
Irene Padavic and Scott Hannahs, Co-Chief Negotiators, UFF-FSU