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

Matthew Lata
Professor of Music
President, UFF/FSU Chapter

MOU April 2020 Impact Bargaining COVID-19 Pandemic

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

UFF COVID-19 Impact Bargaining

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