Conclusion of Negotiations-Sept. 18, 2020

The administration and UFF bargaining teams met this week and finalized contract provisions for 2020-2021, subject to approval by the bargaining unit in a secret ballot ratification vote.

Regarding Salaries, we arrived at a one-time bonus of $1,200.  Recall that faculty also received a $1,500 raise that was negotiated last year and went into effect in August. Promotion raises remain at 12% and 15% and Sustained Performance Increases remain at 3%.  Administrative Discretionary Increases, used for increased duties, extraordinary accomplishments, counteroffers, and certain other reasons specified in Sec. 23.9, are allowable up to 0.80% of the faculty salary base. 

A big win for faculty is a Memorandum of Understanding about the Tuition Scholarship for Dependents/Spousesthat extends the existing scholarship program for dependents to include spouses and graduate, not just undergraduate, credit hours.

We agreed on several changes in Article 13, Layoffs, that represent major improvements.  Whereas the original language offered wide latitude, for example by allowing a layoff unit to be any level of organization as the University deems appropriate, the new language is specific:  “A layoff unit is an organizational unit such as a division, college, or department. The unit is defined as the tenure home or, in the case of specialized or non-tenure-track faculty, the administrative home, that the faculty member was hired into or transferred into. In addition, a layoff unit may be defined as an establishedoperational area or a subdivision of a tenure or administrative home, when the area/subdivision is comparable in most regards to a department.”  We believe this specificity represents a major improvement.

As for layoff ordering, no faculty member without tenure who has more than 7 years of service may be laid off if there are faculty in the unit with 7 or fewer years, an increase from the former 5-year demarcation. In cases where faculty members are equally qualified, there is now a finite list of factors that can be considered.  And whereas previously no tenured faculty member could be laid off in order to create a vacancy to be filled by an administrator, now such a move cannot be made regardless of the tenure status of the faculty member.

By mutual agreement no changes were made to the other opened articles, namely, Leaves, Benefits, and Conflict of Interest/Outside Activity.

Finally, we arrived at a Memorandum of Understanding on the COVID-19 Health Emergency that addresses workplace issues; teaching, research, and service assignments; and tenure and promotion.

Faculty need to vote to ratify these agreements, and we’ll send details soon. Ratification voting matters, and we hope you cast your secret ballot.

We also invite members to come to an online Bargaining Forum happy hour this evening at 5:00.  Members have received an invitation and zoom link from UFF President Matthew Lata, but reply to this email if you want it resent.

Our ability to bargain a strong contract depends on YOU! The more members we can point to, the greater our strength at the bargaining table.  Raises and the preservation of faculty rights are not gifts from the administration but are the result of good-faith and persistent bargaining.  Join here: http://uff-fsu.org/wp/join/

All best,

Irene Padavic and Scott Hannahs, Co-Chief Negotiators, UFF-FSU

Bargaining Update-August 19

The BOT and FSU bargaining teams met on Wednesday to discuss the BOT proposals on Article 23 Salaries and Article 13 Layoff and Recall.

The BOT’s salary proposal offers a $500 bonus, along with Promotion and SPI raises and 0.8 percent in Administrative Discretionary Increases. They proposed no increases to our base salaries, citing financial hard times. Though disappointing, this is hardly surprising given the current crisis.

As for Layoffs, we have made real progress on the key issue of defining “layoff unit,” and the BOT has accepted UFF’s definition of it being a faculty member’s tenure or administrative home, which is the unit they were hired into and that appears in the University’s official Bargaining Unit Member List. (In the case of a transfer out of the original hiring unit, the transfer must have been accomplished well before any layoff situation.) The teams are working on refining language that also allows a layoff unit to be an “established area” and agree that “area” not be interpreted to include the small intellectual-area-based groupings found in virtually all departments.

The discussion became heated around the BOT’s inclusion of having been disciplined as a consideration in choosing among otherwise equally-situated faculty.  Indeed, in the list of acceptable considerations, it falls above teaching, research and service performance.  We explained that discipline is a separate issue, covered by its own article in the CBA, and has no place as a reason to lay someone off.  The implication is that the troublesome people rise to the top of the layoff list. Intentionally or not, including discipline as a reason adds fuel to the always-present speculation during a layoff that somehow the person deserved it. 

Also heated was the discussion around the BOT proposal that the University will help with FSU re-employment only if the new job is “equivalent to the eliminated position.” We are unsure which flummoxed us more:  the illogic or the callousness. Wouldn’t the equivalent job be the one they were laid off from, and wouldn’t that mean the layoff was ill-conceived?  They offered no good reason for restricting the search very narrowly; the idea seems to not have occurred to them that financial exigency might impel someone to accept different employment at reduced wages. Is it too much to hope that HR might seize the opportunity to help faculty in such dire straits rather take the opportunity to put obstacles in their path?

Other issues remain unresolved, including how to factor in seniority, whether the article applies to non-renewed faculty, and whether the University should consider retirement buyouts and furloughs before resorting to layoffs.

We have two bargaining sessions coming up:  Monday, August 24 at 2:00 to discuss Covid-19 Impact Bargaining and Wednesday August 26 at 2:00 to continue regular bargaining.

Bargaining sessions are open to faculty, and negotiations have benefited from the many faculty who have been coming to sessions. There is definitely strength in numbers, and we appreciate having you! If you would like to attend, please respond to this message and we will send you the links when we receive them. 

We also invite members to come to an online Bargaining Forum happy hour this evening at 5:00.  Members (note that this event is only for members) have received an invitation and zoom link from UFF  President Matthew Lata, but reply to this email if you want it resent.

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

Bargaining Update-Aug. 6, 2020

On Thursday, the BOT and FSU bargaining teams met for the second session of the week, this time to discuss the UFF proposal on Article 13 Layoff and RecallYou can read the proposal here. 

The key issue is the definition of “layoff unit,” and the UFF has proposed that it be a person’s tenure or administrative home, which is the unit a faculty member was hired into, which appears in the University’s official Bargaining Unit Member List. If a person has transferred into a different unit, the transfer must have been accomplished well before any layoff situation.  A layoff unit may also be a subdivision of a tenure or administrative home that comprises an established area or school.

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Bargaining Update-Aug. 3, 2020

This is a busy week for bargaining, and on Monday the BOT and the UFF team met for Impact Bargaining regarding the Covid-19 Pandemic.  We will meet again this Thursday at 10:00 to discuss Layoffs and possibly Impact Bargaining, as well.

The UFF team had made an initial Impact Bargaining proposal a couple of weeks ago, the BOT responded, and on Monday the UFF presented its response, which you can read here.  This version shows the BOT language (blue) and the latest UFF language (red).  Yellow highlighting shows wording that the teams had agreed to in the Spring MOU. 

Our proposal differs from the BOT’s in two main ways.  The first is that we want all faculty members working remotely to have the explicit right to take care of their children and dependents during the emergency. Their language had elided the issue, simply stating that faculty working remotely should establish a schedule so that they may meet their work obligations and their family obligations. The second is that for faculty who must report to work, we want exemptions for those with a health vulnerability or who are caring for or living with someone who has a health vulnerability. Their language  had pointed to a series of modifications faculty who have “high-risk concerns” may request, including remote work, options for physical distancing, alternative work locations, reassignment, modified or flexible schedules, and/or the use of personal leave. The problem as we see it is that whereas a faculty member might seek remote work, the administration might instead permit, for example, only physical distancing and personal leave. Their wording also leaves unclear what constitutes a “high-risk concern,” whereas we would like a clear statement that includes living with a person with a health vulnerability.

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UFF-FSU and FSU/GAU statement on the ICE ruling pertaining to International Students

Last Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement issued new federal guidelines barring international students from staying in the United States if they attend online-only courses this fall. The guidelines mandate that any international students who are enrolled in online-only courses either transfer to in-person courses or risk “immigration consequences including, but not limited to, the initiation of removal proceedings.”

This policy is not motivated by concern for our students, but rather by political considerations. It is reckless, guileless, and careless. It will endanger the physical safety and well-being of not only our international students but also our domestic students if classes are required to be in-person this fall. 

Florida State University has demonstrated throughout this crisis that they are leaders in preserving student, faculty, and staff safety. If this policy is left unchallenged, many of our international students will be forced to discontinue their education at FSU. International students who teach classes, run labs, grade papers, and collaborate with faculty on important research would be eliminated. With the fall schedule already in place, the loss of these students would be an administrative nightmare. 

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