About Scott Hannahs

UFF-FSU Co-Chief Negotiator

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.

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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