January Update

Happy New Year! Hope you had a refreshing break. Volunteers and UFF staff have continued to work for FSU faculty these past few weeks, as indicated in part in the balance of this update.

1. At the “Ledge.” President Barron has noted that the initial state budget discussions have NOT included plans for large cuts to higher education, and that is an improvement over the last several years. Yes, that is arguably a sad statement about the sorry climate for higher education in Florida, given the underfunding reflected in continuing “brain drain” losses of our colleagues to better-funded institutions, and in many other ways such as growing class sizes. With the Speaker of the House opening this session blasting what he perceives as mediocrity (could that have something to do with funding?), hundreds of bills filed, and our current political leaders’ track records on ideas for improving higher education, it is difficult to be optimistic. Stay tuned.

2. Collective Bargaining: Faculty and Administration/BOT teams met for their first 2012 session on Tuesday and agreed to take up Non-Tenure Track Faculty reclassification project issues and revisions to the Salary Plan for Professors as their first agenda items in upcoming sessions. Other agenda items carried over from 2011 bargaining include faculty performance evaluations, promotion, tenure, and benefits. The teams are scheduled to meet most Fridays for the remainder of the semester. Salary issues will of course be on the agenda once again as well.

3. We’re pleased to announce success in two grievances filed on behalf of Salary Plan for Professor (SPP) applicants who were initially denied SPP raises (9%). Both grievants were represented by the UFF (at no cost — membership has its benefits!) and our Grievance Chair (Dr. Lee Stepina) was able to persuade the Administration that SPP awards were merited in both cases.

4. We are still trying to obtain adequate information on December’s merit bonuses. The initial report from the FSU Administration (see http://www.uff-fsu.org/art/FacultyMeritBonusesDecember2011.xlsx) is problematic in several regards. We are also multiple faculty members’ complaints.

5. DRAFT consultation minutes are available from our Dec. 15th meeting with President Barron, Provost Stokes, and other Administration representatives. The draft minutes appear to have garbled the discussion in a few places, so please keep that in mind if you review those DRAFT minutes (http://www.uff-fsu.org/art/PresidentConsultation12-15-11MinutesDRAFT.pdf).

6. In case you missed it, an interesting editorial referencing FSU faculty salaries appeared in yesterday’s Tallahassee Democrat. See http://www.uff-fsu.org/art/tdedit20120112.pdf.

Best regards,

Jack Fiorito, President

UFF-FSU Chapter

P.S. Support the team that works for you! If you are a UFF member, thank you. If not, join today and help build a stronger voice for FSU faculty. See www.uff-fsu.org for more information.

 

Report on University Welfare for Faculty Senate, December 7th, 2011

Collective Bargaining

We’ve had just one bargaining session since the last Senate meeting.  In contrast to most of our weekly sessions since May, which have focused on the Administration/BOT’s desire to revise performance evaluation procedures, we addressed academic freedom (Article 5), domestic partner benefits, and revisions to the Salary Plan for Professors (Article 25).  At UFF urging, we have a session scheduled for tomorrow at 2pm in UCA 6200 to review issues in the Non-Tenure Track Faculty reclassification project.  All faculty members are welcome to attend that session.

The merit bonus determination process is moving forward.  We are unfortunately hearing of some implementation procedures that appear to be at odds with our Memorandum of Agreement, and we are investigating.

Consultation

UFF representatives will meet with President Barron and Provost Stokes on December 15th.  The merit bonus implementation will probably be on our agenda.

At the Ledge

Recent encouraging words from Governor Scott about education funding may present a case of a silver lining preceding a dark cloud.  We certainly welcome the Governor’s belated realization that education investments are critical to Florida’s future.  How the budget is funded is of course a concern.  I can note, however, that the UFF is paying attention to both sides of the aisle in the Florida Legislature.

Upcoming Events

  • Tomorrow, Thursday, December 8th, 2pm in the “HR Suite” at UCA 6200, faculty and administration bargaining teams will review issues in the draft agreement on Non-Tenure Track Faculty (NTTF) reclassification.
  • Thursday, December 15th, 12:30 pm.  Lunch with Jeff Wright and Pat Dix, FEA, in the Askew Student Life Center (SLC) Rooms 101A-D.  Tentative topic:  “It Could Be Worse (And How Faculty Can Make It Better).”  Lunch is free to UFF members and guests, $12 for others.  RSVP to me (jtfiorito@comcast.net)

Questions?   Thank you for your time, and Happy Holidays to all!

Special Message from Tom Auxter

The Fate of Higher Education Hangs in the Balance:
Florida Legislature 2012

The next legislative session starting in January could decide once and for all whether Florida will have a viable system of higher education in the future. The leadership, with the support of the Governor, is ready to introduce changes so radical that it would take decades to reverse the damage done to public universities and colleges. This is the last chance for right-wing forces (before redistricting possibly shifts the balance of power in the 2012 election) to pass legislation to convert Florida higher education into a “Texas style” business operation, destroy faculty rights, and dramatically cut funding.

If they succeed, we will see an end to academic life as we know it. As a result of huge budget cuts, students will be processed through diploma mills and have little contact with faculty. Without a collective bargaining contract, faculty will lose job security and be subject annually to “at will” decisions by supervisors — depending only on whether the supervisors want to keep them after the State severely cuts their budgets for instruction.

Can we prevent this outcome? Our best hope lies in persuading the Florida Senate to defeat these drastic measures. We need to show the more moderate senators, who constitute a swing vote, that we are ready to support them if they defend the quality of higher education.

We desperately need to raise PAC funds to make this work. We do not use membership dues for campaign contributions. The only way we can raise enough money to do this is if members write checks to “UFF-PAC” now.

Please mail a check for $100 (if possible), or whatever you can afford, by December 1st. Send it to: UFF, 306 East Park Avenue, Tallahassee, Florida 32301.

The fate of higher education in Florida hangs in the balance.

Tom Auxter
UFF President

November 16th Update to Faculty Senate

Report on University Welfare for Faculty Senate, November 16th, 2011

By Professor Jack Fiorito, UFF-FSU President

I heard that my report was missed last month!  I will try to make it up to you in a brief
update on UFF and Faculty Welfare since my previous report in September.

Consultation

UFF representatives met with President Barron and Provost Stokes on September 30th.  It was our first consultation with both a President and Provost, and a useful conversation.  We are impressed with our administrative leadership and mindful that our common interests far surpass our differences.

Read More →

Florida Shortchanges Its Universities

From the St. Petersburg Times Tampabay.com

October 28, 2011 By Times Wire

At least credit former U.S. Sen. George LeMieux for being half-right: Tuition at Florida’s public universities is too low. But so is the state’s direct support. The hard fact that no one in Tallahassee’s majority party seems willing to acknowledge is that the state,
not just students, must invest more in higher education if Florida’s universities are ever going to rank among the nation’s best and help diversify the economy.

Read More →