About Scott Hannahs

UFF-FSU Co-Chief Negotiator

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

Bargaining Update – May 20, 2020

The BOT and the UFF-FSU teams met for the first bargaining session of the season this week.  During this round of negotiations, each team opens two articles, plus salaries, for renegotiation.

The BOT team opened Articles 13 (Layoff and Recall) and Article 19 (Conflict of Interest/Outside Activity).  The UFF team opened Article 17 (Leaves) and Article 24 (Benefits).

The BOT chose to reopen Layoff and Recall despite “having no current plan in place for layoffs.” The issues, they said, center on “transparency and efficiency.”  They gave examples of wanting to clarify language relating to the order of notices of layoff, defining alternative employment options for laid-off faculty, and defining a layoff unit. They had no language to share but promised to have this at our next meeting. Without seeing their proposed language, it is impossible to ascertain what they are seeking or how it might be applied, but rest assured that the UFF team will strenuously advocate on behalf of all faculty.

The BOT team’s second re-opened article is Conflict of Interest/Outside Activity. They proposed language requiring faculty to annually declare that they have read the policy about conflict of interest/outside activity, and they proposed making the language limiting sexual relationships between faculty and students more restrictive.

The UFF team chose to reopen Leaves in order to propose two changes.  One change would allow the existing 6-month paid parental leave to be broken into two segments, creating flexibility for faculty seeking to use the leave for the birth or adoption of two children over the course of their employment. The other created a new category—paid family leave—that would offer six months of paid leave to care for a sick family member.

The UFF team also opened Benefits, where we also proposed two changes.  One proposes an option for “tapered employment,” whereby faculty age 60 and above can move into part-time status while retaining health benefits, and the other proposed improvements to the “Tuition Scholarship.” The first proposed improvement is to move this benefit into the CBA, giving it more permanent status.  The other improvements are to expand it to spouses rather than just children, and to allow it to be used for graduate credit rather than just undergraduate.

The Salaries article is open, but negotiations are being held off until there is further clarity on the budget situation.

The UFF team is eager for bargaining to continue weekly and thus is disappointed to announce that the BOT team will not meet with us for another three weeks. Unless the BOT affirmatively responds to our request for weekly sessions (which is the norm), the next session is scheduled for Tuesday, June 9, from 2:00-4:00 on zoom.  Faculty members are welcome and can reply to this email to receive the zoom link.

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

Start of Bargaining – 2020

Colleagues –

First, hoping that all are healthy and safe during these trying times.  The situation changes day to day as we try to discern the path forward. 

UFF is continuing to work on your behalf, both at FSU and on the state level.   As you know, we wrote and signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Administration in April that is a guide for all concerned as we try to mitigate the effects of the emergency.    As the situation in the fall becomes clearer, we will be considering what we need to do to maintain protections for faculty so that we may provide the best possible service to our students and to the University.  This is an ongoing process.   Please continue to let us know when issues arise that may be in violation of the MOU, not covered by current agreements, or may otherwise negatively affect faculty and our ability to do our jobs.   We need to know what you think.

Our regular yearly bargaining will begin next week.   In addition to the Salaries article, which is open every year, both UFF and Administration can open two articles each for possible changes. Our first meeting is Wednesday, May 20, from 2-4pm on Zoom.   This first session tends to be more on the technical side, but these are open meetings, and all are welcome to attend and observe.   We will start with non-monetary issues, as the state budget is still in flux.  We haven’t yet received the Zoom link from Administration, but if you’d like to attend (eavesdrop), please let me know, and I’ll send the link when we get it.  

The budget for next year is a huge question, as most are anticipating a special session of the Legislature during the early summer to revise what was passed earlier this year.   The statewide UFF Leadership Council and the Steering Committee have been meeting on a regular basis to try to anticipate what may be coming at us.  We are expanding and focusing our Government Relations Committees so that we may react quickly when we need to do that.   We will be holding two statewide Town Halls during the month of June, one focused on COVID response issues and the other on Legislative issues.  Participants will include state legislators and representatives of the Florida Education Association (FEA), the National Education Association (NEA) and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT).   We are also following the HEROES bill – the latest relief (and Higher Education friendly) bill that will soon pass in the U.S.  House of Representatives.  

This is uncharted territory for everyone.   Communication is vital.   We need everyone’s voice and everyone’s help.   If you are not yet a UFF member, please consider joining us.   http://uff-fsu.org/wp/join/

One day at a time.

Best regards,

Matthew Lata
Professor of Music
President, UFF/FSU Chapter