COVID-19 Resources

Dear UFF-FSU Member,

Faculty have worked hard to ensure that the unplanned transition to online teaching and remote counseling, research and service this semester has been as smooth as possible. Almost all of us have felt the stress of this new situation and many faculty have additional caregiving duties for spouses, parents, and/or children. Amid changing work environments and attending to students’ new problems, your own needs as faculty may seem to be overlooked. UFF-FSU wants to provide information to help you. We are in this together

We are offering information on the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES), the Family First Coronavirus Response Act (which expands leave options during this crisis) and expanded resources for free trauma counseling and remote teaching.

The CARES Act has multiple provisions that may impact you and our parent union, the National Education Association (NEA). The NEA offers fact sheets on one-time payments, unemployment compensation, and student loans. The Family First Coronavirus Response Act can assist you in accessing additional leave benefits, including if you are ill from the virus yourself or caring for a sick family member or a dependent who is not in school due to closures. The NEA offers more information here.

Many of us are struggling with new stresses and anxieties. Our other parent union, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), offers a new member benefit for UFF members: free trauma counseling sessions with highly trained therapists. For information about how to access these services, click here. Contact UFF’s main office to get your member number if you don’t have it.

We also want to share three sources of information to assist with teaching:

1) The Chronicle of Higher Education Teaching Newsletter features a weekly roundup about teaching and learning.

2) The Facebook Group “Higher Ed and the Coronavirus”: In this group you can ask reporters questions, tell stories about how your college or university is reacting to the virus, and share practical tips with members.

3) Suggestions on how to proceed after moving course content online from an article in NEA Today.

The UFF-FSU tagline “FSU works because we do!” is apropos to the current pandemic. UFF-FSU is here for you. We’re listening. To contact us, email info.uff.fsu@gmail.com or you can reach us through our website: uff-fsu.org.

In solidarity,

Your colleagues in UFF-FSU

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

March 2020 Consultation Minutes

On March 30, 2020 the UFF and the FSU Administration held a consultation. These are regularly held meetings to discuss various faculty and administration concerns. This meeting had a wide ranging discussion of the following topics

  1. Bargaining unit work assigned to non-BU employees.
  2. “Administrative overhead” charges (40%?) on FSU’s ORP payments.
  3. Lack of assistance and followup by the SCRC.
  4. Standard of Evidence in investigation.
  5. Investigations that may not be inherently disciplinary but may result in later disciplinary activity.
  6. New undergraduate teaching awards.

Spring 2020 Faculty Poll Results

Nearly 600 FSU faculty members participated in the Spring, 2020 UFF-FSU Faculty Poll in late February and early March. They offered opinions on salaries, bargaining priorities, legislative issues, professional climate, administrator performance, the UFF-FSU Chapter, and various other matters. Many offered comments. Reports summarizing results, with or without comments are available.

Notably before the coronavirus pandemic loomed large on most Americans’ radar; a “pollster’s nightmare.”  A diverse and generally representative sample of FSU faculty views as of March 1, but no doubt a poll today would reveal new faculty concerns.

Highlights:

  • Salary preferences shifted toward cost-of-living increases, now 87%, with both merit and market equity raises prioritized by 50-some percent.  Similar results in a forced-choice question, but both cost-of-living and market equity increases gained popularity while merit increases lost support.
  • Non-salary priorities:  Healthcare, a phased retirement option that includes healthcare coverage, and retirement benefits were top priorities (for 60%-plus).
  • General satisfaction with FSU’s direction and assessments of faculty morale were both down noticeably (7-10 percentage points).  Faculty are less satisfied and perceive lower morale among their colleagues.
  • Percent of faculty agreeing that online teaching should be on a voluntary basis rose 5 percentage points, and the share agreeing that incentives should be used to induce online teaching rose about the same amount.
  • Slight drop (3 percentage points) in faculty satisfaction with use of web applications such as FEAS and Academic Analytics for tracking faculty performance.
  • Administrator evaluations:  Slight drops (2-3 points) for most.  President Thrasher still gets the best ratings, followed by department chairs and then deans.
  • UFF-FSU Chapter rating also dropped 2 points.
  • A drop in professional climate ratings for colleges (5 points).
  • A relatively large drop in perceptions that faculty efforts are rewarded (8 points).

Spring 2020 Faculty Poll with Comments

Spring 2020 Faculty Poll without Comments

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