About Scott Hannahs

UFF-FSU Co-Chief Negotiator

Bargaining Update – July 1, 2020

The FSU Board of Trustees (BOT) team and the UFF-FSU team, along with 20 faculty visitors, met on Wednesday for a discussion that centered on the BOT’s response to our counterproposal on Layoff and Recall. Because of multiple markups from two teams, it is a bit hard to read, but the yellow highlights identify what the BOT team has newly added.

The BOT introduced their proposal by reiterating their stance that they did not open the Layoff article because they intended to act on it.  We want to believe.

The good news is that the BOT accepted some elements of the UFF’s counterproposal, namely restoring original language that stipulated two years as the recall period and as the period during which a faculty member is eligible for retraining and also restoring original language about notifying the UFF when a layoff involves an Affirmative Action Program.

The bad news is the rest of their proposal. First, whereas the original language and all previous proposals begin with a list of reasons for layoffs, the BOT’s proposal splits off one reason—adverse financial circumstances—and says that only when this is the reason will the ordering-of-layoffs provision apply. Thus, if a layoff occurs for a different reason, say a reorganization of degree or curriculum offerings or requirements, the abolition of programs, or a simple resource reallocation, the University would be within its rights to lay off anyone in the layoff unit in any order. As we pointed out, this provision takes an axe to the layoff order. Second, they are again seeking to introduce a phrase that allows a tenured faculty member in a layoff unit to be laid off while non-tenured faculty members remain, which we consider a step towards eliminating tenure.  Third, they said they had issues with our proposed definition of layoff unit—arguably key to the whole article–but have not yet devised an alternative although they hope to turn to this soon. They also reintroduced a few other proposals that we had rejected in earlier sessions, including reducing the importance of years of service in one type of layoff decision, removing the HR obligation to help with finding alternative employment, and eliminating the article’s protections for faculty funded by contracts and grants and those who have been non-reappointed.

The teams then turned to the UFF response to the BOT’s counterproposal on Tapered Employment. The differences between our last proposal and our new one is that we no longer seek to retain health-care benefits but instead propose that people who reduce their employment by 50% or more will receive an annual bonus equivalent to 10% of the average salary of in-unit faculty.  According to our calculations, this plan will save the University money over a three-year period.

We ended the meeting by making plans for our next regular bargaining session and also for impact bargaining. One element of impact bargaining will concern FSU’s Remote Work Policy, picked up by the national press (links below), and applicable to 12-month faculty (e.g., librarians, Specialized Faculty in Research, and others):

Tallahassee Democrat
https://www.tallahassee.com/story/news/2020/07/02/covid-19-fsu-backing-off-notice-employees-requiring-outside-child-care-during-remote-work/5363086002/

Washington Post
https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/06/29/coronavirus-live-updates-us/?#link-GVXPXKN475EJRCYXUPO2LMIIZA

The Lily (put out by Washington Post; interviews with FSU faculty and staff)
https://www.thelily.com/florida-state-just-barred-many-employees-from-caring-for-kids-while-working-remotely-moms-ask-what-am-i-supposed-to-do/

Chronicle of Higher Education
https://www.chronicle.com/article/Working-While-Parenting-Is-a/249107?cid=wsinglestory_hp_1a

Inside Higher Ed
https://www.insidehighered.com/quicktakes/2020/06/30/florida-state-bars-parenting-during-remote-work

The UFF will also use impact bargaining to address some concerns arising from the Repopulation Guide: The requirement to review productivity levels of faculty working remotely, the contradiction between the goal of remotely working and the plan to have 25%-50% of departmental employees on campus, and the lack of a provision allowing people living with a high-risk individual (as opposed to being their caretaker) to be eligible for temporary modifications.

Both types of bargaining sessions are open to faculty, and if you would like to attend the next regular bargaining session (Wednesday, July 8 at 3:00 PM) or the impact bargaining session (July 10, at 9:00 AM) please email Matthew Lata and we will send you the link when we receive it.  

The UFF is also hosting another forum to answer members’ questions this Friday, July 3, at 5:00. The UFF-FSU President Matthew Lata has sent the link, but members who need a reminder are free to write us.

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/

All best,
Irene Padavic and Scott Hannahs, Co-Chief Negotiators, UFF-FSU

Bargaining Update – June 24 2020

The teams met on Wednesday for a discussion we had hoped would include the BOT’s response to our counter-proposal on Layoff and Recall (UFF’s Counter-proposal on Article 13).  Alas, that response was not forthcoming, which disappointed us as well as the 15 faculty visitors.  

Instead, we mostly discussed the BOT’s Counter-proposal on Tapered Employment. The UFF team had proposed the program as a new section in the Benefits article that would allow a faculty member heading towards retirement to reduce work hours (with a corresponding pay cut) without losing the employer contribution to health-insurance. The BOT’s counter-proposal included no wording on health-care benefits, added the requirement of a dean’s annual approval, and specified a maximum of three years. In short, it offers no incentive for faculty uptake.  Indeed, its provisions are hardly different from what is currently in place, as described in Article 8.5(a)4  and in the Department of Management Services guidelines (kindly provided by the BOT team and stipulating that someone working 75% or higher is eligible for the full state contribution).

The Tapered Employment discussion was wide-ranging.  The BOT team asserted its belief that the State Group Insurance system was unlikely to allow the University to kick in money to make up the difference in health-insurance premium. It was also skeptical that moving a senior faculty member to part-time and replacing them with an adjunct or less-senior person would save money in every instance. We replied that it is an open question as to whether the insurance system would forbid such an action and that replacing the half-time duties of a person far advanced in their career (and salary level) would generally cost less than retaining that person at their full salary.

The final topic was a provision in the BOT’s Conflict of Interest/Outside Activity proposal that requires faculty to sign a form acknowledging that they have reviewed University policies on outside activity. The UFF noted that when you add this form to other requirements, such as Cyber Security training, FEAS, and FACET, the paperwork burden becomes a substantial portion of faculty members’ Assignments of Responsibilities. 

Bargaining sessions are open to all faculty, and if you would like to attend the next one (Wednesday, July 1 at 3:00), please respond to this message and we will send you the link when we receive it.  The UFF is also hosting another forum to answer members’ questions this Friday, June 26, at 5:00. UFF-FSU President Matthew Lata has sent the link, but members who need a reminder are free to write us.

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/

All best,
Irene Padavic and Scott Hannahs, Co-Chief Negotiators, UFF-FSU

Bargaining Update – June 17, 2020

The FSU Board of Trustees (BOT) team and the UFF-FSU team met on Wednesday for a discussion that centered on the UFF’s Counterproposal on Article 13 (Layoff and Recall). This Zoom public meeting drew about 25 faculty observers. 

The UFF-FSU Counterproposal begins by stating that layoffs should be a last resort and proceeds to enumerate a finite list of reasons for pursuing them.  We reintroduced the term “layoff unit” and defined it by authority structure rather than by type of unit (e.g, an “area” or “program,” or the like).  We believe it is important to have clearly established units so administrators cannot designate individuals for layoff. Hence, a “layoff unit” must be an established and functionally separate entity that has a separate budget and a director with the authority to evaluate faculty and assign their AORs.  And membership in this unit must be on the faculty member’s employment contract. The teams discussed what such a designation might mean in various organizational units.

We eliminated the BOT-added phrase that allowed a tenured faculty member in a layoff unit to be laid off while non-tenured faculty members remain, as we consider that to be a step towards eliminating tenure.  We also reinserted language requiring the BOT to notify the union in various instances.

The BOT proposal had sought to shift the burden of finding an alternative University job to the faculty member, and we re-added the University’s responsibilities. Our proposal also reverted to original language stipulating two years of such assistance rather than the BOT-proposed one year, and the same for the period of recall.

We spent considerable time discussing the final provision in the article, which concerns whether provisions in the layoff article apply to Specialized Faculty in “soft money” positions (i.e., funded by Contracts and Grants) and to faculty who had been non-renewed.  Like the conversation about layoff unit, this exchange was an open give-and-take, and both teams are going to consider the implications of this provision.

The BOT raised some questions about our Tapered Employment proposal in Article 24 (Benefits).  This proposal allows a faculty member heading towards retirement to reduce work hours (with a corresponding pay cut) without losing the employer contribution to health-insurance. The BOT asked about the possibility of considering adding an end-point to a faculty member’s arrangement and whether a Dean’s okay would be necessary, and perhaps most importantly, whether the State Insurance System would permit the employer’s contribution to continue for half-time employees.  

Bargaining sessions are open to all faculty, and if you would like to attend the next one (date to be determined), please respond to this message and we will send you the link when we receive it.  The UFF is also hosting a forum to answer members’ questions this Friday, June 19, at 5:00. The UFF-FSU President Matthew Lata has sent the link, but members who need a reminder are free to write us.

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/

All best,
Irene Padavic and Scott Hannahs, Co-Chief Negotiators, UFF-FSU

Bargaining Update June 9, 2020

The BOT and the UFF-FSU teams met on Tuesday, and the discussion centered on changes the BOT team seeks in Article 13 (Layoff and Recall)(visible in Track Changes).  This Zoom public meeting drew 15-20 faculty observers.

Many of the proposed changes are worrisome, and the UFF team was seriously concerned about two, in particular. Section 13.2 specifies that a tenured faculty member in an organizational unit cannot be laid off while non-tenured faculty members remain. Yet, the BOT team proposes adding this phrase: “unless those faculty members without tenure possesses [sic] specific qualifications that better meet the academic needs of the University.” How, we asked, is the new phrase not tantamount to abandoning tenure? And how are “the academic needs of the University” determined? The answer was that in rare instances, a non-tenured individual with particular expertise that is clearly needed and is shared by no one else in the organizational unit would be retained over a tenured individual who lacked that expertise. They offered the example of someone who is the only one able to operate a piece of scientific equipment. A scientist on the UFF team pointed out that equipment is designed to be learned; it would be worth little if it lacked that property.  A UFF professor in the humanities pointed out that the definition of “academic need” can change, as happens routinely when the curriculum is redesigned.  Another team member pointed out that it is common to have a PhD in one discipline and a departmental home in another; would that person lack the “qualification” that would allow them to retain their job?  This proposed wording, we concluded, allows the Administration to define “qualifications” and “academic need” so as to draw a narrow circle around one non-tenured person as the obvious person to remain while tenured faculty are laid off.

The other big issue is the definition of a layoff unit. This definition matters because it is a unit that is laid off, and without a clear definition of “unit,” the administration can be free to cherry-pick individuals.  Hence, any changes have to be carefully thought through, and the teams will work towards writing clear language on what constitutes a layoff unit.

Other important issues we discussed centered on (a) how much notice the BOT must give before a layoff, which the BOT proposal shortens; (b) the BOT’s proposal to no longer notify the UFF when they replace laid-off tenured faculty with adjuncts; (c) the BOT’s proposals to no longer help laid-off faculty find alternative University employment and to reduce from two years to one the period during which a laid-off faculty member can be recalled or can be offered retraining; and (d) the BOT’s proposal to eliminate provisions of the layoff article for Specialized Faculty who have been non-renewed, even if they have years left on their contracts.

We noted that many of the BOT proposals center on changing contract language that worked against them in the arbitrator’s determination that in a round of 2008 layoffs the BOT had violated the contract and must reinstate tenured faculty members. The BOT team denied that the arbitrator’s decision informed their proposal.  

Above is the Tallahassee Democrat front page.  Full coverage can be found here: https://login.proxy.lib.fsu.edu/login?url=https://search-proquest-com.proxy.lib.fsu.edu/docview/762720202?accountid=4840

At the end of the meeting we turned briefly to BOT questions about an article the UFF had opened at the last meeting, and the teams then discussed plans for the next bargaining session. 

Bargaining sessions are open to all faculty, and if you would like to attend the next one (Wednesday, June 17, 2:00-4:00), please respond to this message and we will send you the link when we receive it.  The UFF is also hosting a forum to answer members’ questions about the Layoff article this Friday, June 12, at 5:00; UFF-FSU President Matthew Lata has sent the link to that Friday meeting; members who need a reminder are free to write us.

Regular updates can be found at our webpage:  http://uff-fsu.org/

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/

All best,
Irene Padavic and Scott Hannahs, Co-Chief Negotiators, UFF-FSU

Faculty Layoffs 2010

While the university is currently proposing substantial changes to the layoff process in the Collective Bargaining Agreement, it is good to review the last time that FSU attempted a large layoff of faculty and the outcome.

FSU sent layoff notices to more than 5 dozen tenured, tenure-track and specialized faculty in 2009. The UFF filed a grievance on their behalf and and the hearing before an arbitrator was held in the fall of 2010. A final decision was rendered in early November. Though it is long, it is interesting to read the arbitrators decision and note that the very provisions that saved faculty members positions are those that the administration is now attempting to change and weaken.

News article – Tallahasse Democrat 2010-11-08
Opinion and Award by Arbitrator Stanley H. Sergent, 2010-11-03