Faculty Layoffs 2010

While the university is currently proposing substantial changes to the layoff process in the Collective Bargaining Agreement, it is good to review the last time that FSU attempted a large layoff of faculty and the outcome.

FSU sent layoff notices to more than 5 dozen tenured, tenure-track and specialized faculty in 2009. The UFF filed a grievance on their behalf and and the hearing before an arbitrator was held in the fall of 2010. A final decision was rendered in early November. Though it is long, it is interesting to read the arbitrators decision and note that the very provisions that saved faculty members positions are those that the administration is now attempting to change and weaken.

News article – Tallahasse Democrat 2010-11-08
Opinion and Award by Arbitrator Stanley H. Sergent, 2010-11-03

UFF Statement on the death of George Floyd

George Floyd.  Ahmaud Aubery.  Breonna Taylor.   One more family devastated.  One more child without a parent.   The list goes on and on, with incidents almost too frequent to be reported.   Their crime was to be in the wrong place at the wrong time… and to be Black.  The United Faculty of Florida strongly condemns not only the brutal murder of George Floyd, but the systemic racism that tries to excuse this and countless other acts of violence by law enforcement against Black Americans.    

In a nation that boasts of guaranteeing its citizens life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, Black Americans are too often denied basic human rights that many of us take for granted.   They can’t jog without worrying about being shot.   They can’t sleep without worrying about being killed.  They can’t even go bird watching in a public park without being threatened.

No one should be afraid to live their lives as they choose or to seek help from police because of their skin color.  A mother shouldn’t be worried about her teenager because he wants to spend time in public with his friends.  Fathers should not have to see murders on live TV, and project that nightmare onto their own children.  Families should not have to bury their loved ones before they have graduated from high school or known the joy of holding a grandchild.

At UFF, we are committed to representing a diverse membership.  We cherish that diversity.  We only hope that we can understand the pain, anger and the outrage that these continued atrocities have produced.   We stand with the thousands who have vocally and peacefully taken to the streets of our country.   We stand with those who are the victims of this violence.  We stand with those who are no longer requesting, but demanding, meaningful change.

The rage coursing through the streets of Minneapolis and other cities is born from hundreds of years of prejudice played out as personal discrimination or legal bias.  We oppose any form of violence, but cannot delude ourselves into believing that the responsibility lies only with others.  It also lies within ourselves.  Not one of us should feel that we are untouched by the effects of the pernicious disease of racism.  Recent events only underscore this fact.  The disproportionate mortality rate of the COVID virus on communities of color is only one more indication of its tragic and enduring legacy.  We call upon our members, families, colleges, and communities to stand with us against racism in all its forms.

We also call upon Law Enforcement, and, particularly, our union sisters and brothers in Law Enforcement, to examine their contracts and policies to ensure that they are written in ways that hold those charged with keeping the peace accountable for their actions.   We cannot claim to be a state which prizes equality so long as we have a criminal justice system that disproportionately impacts marginalized communities.   

Those endangered by racism are our members and colleagues, families and friends, students and former students.   It is critical at this time that we not only speak out, but live out the values that we claim to cherish.  Demands for respect, civility, diversity, equality, and inclusion cannot just be empty words shouted in the heat of the moment. We must speak up and speak out whenever we witness hatred, racism or injustice, however small or subtle it might be.  This must be a part of what we do every minute of the day in both our personal and professional lives.  

In our role as educators, researchers, and mentors, we must prepare those we teach to commit to vigorous and wholehearted participation in our democracy.  An honest civic discourse cannot and may not obscure the truth.  This cannot be “normal”.  The killings must stop.  The system must change.  We all must work together to build a just society, where life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are guaranteed for each and every one us,wherever we were born, whomever we love, and whatever the color of our skin.

In solidarity,

Matthew Lata, President, UFF/FSU Chapter,

Approved by the UFF Steering Committee

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 Lata
Professor of Music
President, UFF/FSU Chapter