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 – August 12, 2020

On Wednesday, the BOT and the UFF teams met, and the UFF took the occasion to remind the BOT that our 2019 negotiations called for making last year’s $1,500 bonus a permanent base pay increase if certain budget conditions were met, which they were. We were pleased the next day to see President Thrasher’s email announcing the raise, and are proud of having negotiated the language that made the raise a reality.

During the session, we reviewed the BOT’s proposed revisions to the Covid-19 Memorandum of Understandingand are unhappy to report that negotiations are going backwards. Language both teams had agreed to in the spring MOU and had remained intact in BOT’s early August proposal is gone, replaced with language that removes faculty autonomy.  Here’s an example:

BOT’s earlier language: “During the emergency period, faculty members shall be permitted to work remotely, provided that the assigned duties are able to be accomplished remotely.”

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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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Bargaining Update – July 23, 2020

We have two bits of news to report from this week’s bargaining.  The main topic was the BOT’s counterproposal on Article 13, Layoffs.  The teams also agreed to sign a Memorandum of Agreement guaranteeing that Promotion increases and Sustained Performance Increases will go through in early August, regardless of the status of on-going negotiations.

Guaranteed Promotion and SPI raises are great news that will allow many faculty to heave sighs of relief. Unfortunately, the BOT proposal on the Layoffs and Recall article will not have the same effect.  

You can find that proposal here.  While this document does not show changes from the UFF’s most recent proposal because the BOT did not use traditional legislative markup style (track changes), we will provide that version upon request. It’s clear that the BOT responded to none of our proposals but instead rewrote the article from scratch to include only their desired terms. Below we summarize three key differences between the BOT proposal and the language that has been in place for years.

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