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.
Professor of Music
President, UFF/FSU Chapter
We’re happy to report that UFF and FSU Administration have reached an agreement on a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that will help define faculty rights during the current health emergency. Negotiations began in mid-March. We note that Administration already implemented some of our proposals during the negotiation process.
Our priorities included the following, and we have to be happy with the results of our negotiations during this difficult time. We are grateful to the Administration for working with us to achieve them:
- Protecting new course content and delivery materials created as a result of the transition to remote teaching. These will be treated as any other course content as defined by our contract and applicable law.
- Excluding ratings from student course evaluations (SPCI) when conducting annual evaluations unless the faculty member requests to have them included. This applies to all courses for the Spring Semester of 2020, and to future semesters for courses required to transition to online. Note that after Spring 2020, it will not apply to courses normally taught online.
- Acknowledging the emergency’s impacts on a faculty member’s ability to present their scholarship, research, or creative activities. These impacts must be considered when promotion/tenure reviews are conducted. This provision applies to annual reviews through 2023.
- Permitting faculty members to work remotely if they so choose, with the exception of those designated as on-campus essential employees.
- Recognizing that the emergency challenges faculty progress towards professional and scholarly achievement. As a result, tenure-earning faculty will be granted a one-year extension of the tenure clock. Faculty may opt out of the extension if they wish.
- Guaranteeing 80 hours of Emergency Paid Sick Leave as per the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. If this entitlement is exhausted, and faculty cannot complete their assignments remotesly, they may qualify for Paid Administrative Leave through the end of April.
The situation changes day to day. There will certainly be continued discussion with Administration, as we start our regular bargaining process later this spring, and as things develop into the Fall.
We are all working together to get to the other side of this unprecedented situation. Please don’t hesitate to respond with questions and comments.
Full Text of MOU
On March 30, 2020 the UFF and the FSU Administration held a consultation. These are regularly held meetings to discuss various faculty and administration concerns. This meeting had a wide ranging discussion of the following topics
- Bargaining unit work assigned to non-BU employees.
- “Administrative overhead” charges (40%?) on FSU’s ORP payments.
- Lack of assistance and followup by the SCRC.
- Standard of Evidence in investigation.
- Investigations that may not be inherently disciplinary but may result in later disciplinary activity.
- New undergraduate teaching awards.
Nearly 600 FSU faculty members participated in the Spring, 2020 UFF-FSU Faculty Poll in late February and early March. They offered opinions on salaries, bargaining priorities, legislative issues, professional climate, administrator performance, the UFF-FSU Chapter, and various other matters. Many offered comments. Reports summarizing results, with or without comments are available.
Notably before the coronavirus pandemic loomed large on most Americans’ radar; a “pollster’s nightmare.” A diverse and generally representative sample of FSU faculty views as of March 1, but no doubt a poll today would reveal new faculty concerns.
- Salary preferences shifted toward cost-of-living increases, now 87%, with both merit and market equity raises prioritized by 50-some percent. Similar results in a forced-choice question, but both cost-of-living and market equity increases gained popularity while merit increases lost support.
- Non-salary priorities: Healthcare, a phased retirement option that includes healthcare coverage, and retirement benefits were top priorities (for 60%-plus).
- General satisfaction with FSU’s direction and assessments of faculty morale were both down noticeably (7-10 percentage points). Faculty are less satisfied and perceive lower morale among their colleagues.
- Percent of faculty agreeing that online teaching should be on a voluntary basis rose 5 percentage points, and the share agreeing that incentives should be used to induce online teaching rose about the same amount.
- Slight drop (3 percentage points) in faculty satisfaction with use of web applications such as FEAS and Academic Analytics for tracking faculty performance.
- Administrator evaluations: Slight drops (2-3 points) for most. President Thrasher still gets the best ratings, followed by department chairs and then deans.
- UFF-FSU Chapter rating also dropped 2 points.
- A drop in professional climate ratings for colleges (5 points).
- A relatively large drop in perceptions that faculty efforts are rewarded (8 points).
Spring 2020 Faculty Poll with Comments
Spring 2020 Faculty Poll without Comments
UFF submitted a proposal for an MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) to the Administration last week. This is a part of impact bargaining, which can be required when a policy change (like mandating distance teaching) affects faculty on a timetable that cannot be addressed through regular bargaining. We are awaiting their response.
The MOU is intended to protect faculty, including:
- Protection of faculty intellectual property rights with respect to materials created for online instruction because of the emergency. These materials will remain the property of the faculty member and not of the University.
- No adverse employment or evaluative actions may be taken because of the mandated shift to distance learning. Spring 2020 evaluative results will be excluded from annual evaluations.
- Inability to present papers, perform, or otherwise fulfill the “research and creative activities” portion of a faculty member’s Assignment of Responsibilities because of the emergency will have no adverse evaluative effects.
- Pre-tenure faculty will have the option to extend the probationary period (stop the tenure clock) for one year, beginning with the 2019-2020 academic year.
There are other provisions as well. The full text of the MOU is below.
This document is similar to those being bargained by other institutions throughout the Florida college and university systems. While we appreciate the challenges Administration faces right now, we look forward to working with them on this, and will keep faculty informed as the discussion progresses.
Text of proposed MOU