Bargaining Update 5-22-17

The BOT and UFF bargaining teams have been meeting regularly since late March and have made progress on several articles.

Discussions of Salary have been ongoing for the last two bargaining sessions. Because University employees are excluded for the first time in memory from raises targeted to other state employees, negotiations are particularly important this year. Also new this year is the UFF’s proposal to link the total percentage increase in faculty salaries to the total percentage increase in administrators’ salaries. The UFF is surprised by how meager the BOT’s initial proposals are in light of the budget increases the Legislature allocated. In general, the teams are far apart, although there have been small moves toward convergence.

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2017-2018 Collective Bargaining Status

The annual bargaining of the Collective Bargaining Agreement began March 8th with the exchange of open articles by the Board of Trustees (BOT) and the UFF.  Salaries is of course open and each side is allowed to open two articles each year with the full agreement open every 3 years.

This post will be updated with versions of the articles as the bargaining progresses.

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Bargaining Update 4-19-17

Dear Colleagues,

The BOT and UFF bargaining teams met for three hours on April 12 and discussed several of the opened articles.

The discussion of the Tenure Article concerned the BOT’s proposal to switch from a set of 2nd-and-4th-year reviews to a 3rd-year review and the UFF’s position that any such switch would need to provide a choice for Assistant Professors who came in under the 2nd-and-4th-year system. The fact that this review system appears in several unopened articles was also discussed.

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Bargaining Update 3-29-17

The FSU-BOT team and the UFF-FSU team met on March 29 to begin bargaining for the 2017-18 contract. This is a “limited re-opener” year, which means that teams can open two articles each in addition to Art. 23 Salaries, which is automatically reopened. Each side officially notified the other on March 8 about which articles they would open. For the BOT, it is Article 15 Tenure and Article 16 Disciplinary Action and Job Abandonment. For the UFF-FSU it is Article 21 Other Faculty Rights and Article 24 Benefits.

The UFF-FSU presented its proposals: Read More →

Talk to your Legislators!

As you may know, the Legislature officially convenes the 2017 Session on Tuesday, March 7th. Higher Education issues have been front and center during the committee process in recent weeks. There are a number of bills that directly affect our campus.

On Wednesday, February 8, the Senate Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee voted 5-1 to support CS/SB 2 which has been titled the “Florida Excellence in Higher Education Act of 2017.” This is an omnibus bill addressing issues ranging from performance metrics to graduation rates to preeminence. UFF has serious concerns about several issues embedded in this legislation.

SB2 redefines metrics to emphasize a 4-year graduation rate, including penalizing universities for students who do not adhere to this metric. It also imposes a block tuition policy through which students would pay a fixed rate for however many credits they take in a given semester, forcing students to pay for 15 credits when their economic or family circumstances might dictate otherwise. We feel that these changes in emphasis could significantly impact students who of necessity cannot graduate in four years, affecting access to higher education for lower-income, minority, and non-traditional students. No analyzes have been made to determine the potential effect of this legislation. This bill has bipartisan support, but we believe that its breadth and complexity is eliminating discussion about certain specific issues it affects.

Another metric measures a University’s success by the starting salary of its graduates. This is designed to emphasize STEM and other fields where starting salaries are above the norm. It punishes universities for graduating students in areas like education, the arts, and humanities. Never mind that it is the Legislature itself that has kept Florida public teacher salaries below national averages. We understand that public education is funded by taxpayers. But a university education is not simply a form of advanced job training whose value can be measured by financial return.

On Monday, February 6, the Senate Education Committee passed SB 374, called the “College Competitiveness Act” by Senate leaders. This bill deemphasizes four-year programs at current state colleges. The bill would remove state colleges from the oversight of the State Board of Education and put them under a new State Board of Community Colleges. The bill will make 4-year baccalaureate degree programs a “secondary” mission of the colleges. Let’s just say that the colleges are very unhappy about this bill. Fortunately, the bill does not yet have a House companion bill.

“Gun rights” activist Senator Greg Steube introduced a bill in January that would have made open carry the law of the state everywhere, including campuses, the legislative chambers, “sterile” areas of airports, and other currently protected areas. This measure proved too draconian to pass the required committees Senator Steube has now broken this bill up into a myriad of bills, each one allowing carry in a currently prohibited area as well as open carry statewide. SB 622 would allow carry on campus. It has not yet been assigned to committee, but UFF will continue to join with Administration and campus law enforcement to oppose this ill-conceived and dangerous piece of legislation.

Last year, UFF supported a bill allowing fee waivers for graduate assistants. Quite simply, we don’t believe that GAs should have to pay up to 30% of their stipends for the right to work. This bill made it partway through the committee process with bipartisan support. This year, it is being folded into a general appropriations bill in partial form. We will be following and supporting this legislation, but would like to address specific fees for waiver.

There will be an increase in committee activity as we get closer to Session. A bill affecting our health insurance has already been introduced. We don’t yet know what the immediate future holds. Things move faster once the Session starts, as the notice for committee hearings is reduced from a week to 48 hours. We will keep faculty advised as to what is happening and when. All of us can advocate for our interests, whether by making phone calls, emailing, or appearing to testify or signing cards during committee sessions. Students and faculty are the end users, and those most affected by these bills. And not everything is contentious. Our voices can educate and convince our legislators if we make them heard. Please take the time to do it!