The Fate of Collective Bargaining at FSU

The bargaining team regularly writes you with bargaining updates.  This email is different.

Unless more faculty members join, our union could be decertified early in the new year.

We have years of experience negotiating the Collective Bargaining Agreement, and we know what is in store for faculty if the union is decertified and the CBA is dead.  We know because the FSU Board of Trustees fights for the same wish list year after year:  They seek to shorten the length of contracts for Specialized Faculty, and every year we put the kibosh on it. They seek to shuffle a high proportion of salary increase dollars into a pot solely administered by deans, and every year we redirect much of it to all faculty or to faculty whose peers evaluated their merit.  

Those almost-guaranteed changes are the tip of the iceberg. 

The CBA comprises 31 articles and 11 appendices that the UFF and the Board of Trustees (BOT) have agreed to, and all of them will disappear.  In their place, the Governor-appointed BOT will unilaterally determine promotion criteria, the rank order of faculty in a layoff, grievance rights, the content allowable in performance evaluation folders, the extent of academic freedom, and a couple dozen other policies, procedures, and rights.   

We are your bargaining team, holding decades of experience in negotiations, and we know what the future without a faculty voice would look like.  Don’t let it happen. We need 80 more faculty members to join and the 95 former members who missed the eDues deadline to re-join our union.

Join now.  Here’s the link to join or re-join: Tomorrow is too late. 

All the best,

Your UFF-FSU Bargaining Team

Brian Arsenault

Michael Buchler

Arash Fahim

Jack Fiorito

Robin Goodman

Scott Hannahs

Matthew Lata

Jennifer Proffitt

Update on Post-Tenure Review Bargaining: Nov 8, 2023

Dear FSU Colleagues:

The Board of Trustees (BOT) and UFF faculty (UFF) bargaining teams met Wednesday (11/8) to continue their negotiations on Post-Tenure Review (PTR).  The session started with a new proposal from UFF designed to make the PTR more faculty friendly, including the following:

  1. The Collective Bargaining Agreement’s (CBA) definition of tenure (CBA Article 15.1) as “permanent… guaranteed employment” except for cases of retirement, resignation, or termination for just cause was cited early in the proposed Memorandum of Agreement (MOA)
  2. Department chairs would be reviewed and eligible for a PTR-based raise, or could request PTR postponement
  3. Three ratings would be possible: “Exceeds Expectations,” “Meets Expectations,” “Does Not Meet Expectations,” with each referencing criteria including annual evaluations, department/unit bylaws, and assignments of responsibility. A “Does Not Meet Expectations” rating would trigger a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP).
  4. Past disciplinary offenses and actions would not be considered (no double jeopardy)
  5. Faculty committee input would be required in Chairs’ letters assessing performance
  6. Ratings of Exceeds Expectations or Meets Expectations would result in a 12% raise
  7. PTR ratings could not be inconsistent with the past five years’ annual evaluations
  8. The Provost would provide written justification for his/her ratings
  9. Rating outcomes and processes could be appealed, with resort to arbitration possible for represented faculty if permitted by law.
  10. Field of study and exercise of academic freedom were added to the list of activities protected in the PTR process

After a caucus, the BOT team offered a counter-proposal including the following:

  • Chairs would be exempt from the PTR process and any associated monetary reward
  • Monetary rewards would be left unspecified
  • Four ratings would be possible, including those above, plus “Unsatisfactory,” with the criteria for each undefined
  • Chairs and equivalent would consider annual evaluations and past disciplinary offenses in their letters assessing performance
  • A rating of “Unsatisfactory” would result in a Provost recommendation of termination
  • UFF proposals #5, #8, #9, and #10 above were accepted in part or entirely

In sum, there was some progress, but there is more work needed.  Negotiations are scheduled to resume in early December.

In the meantime, if you are not already a UFF member in good standing (paying dues via eDues), we hope you’ll join or rejoin our faculty union and help protect the very existence of our contract. If we don’t reach 60% membership density, we simply won’t have a contract to defend.  Please join now. It only takes a minute. Here’s the link:  

Jack Fiorito, UFF-FSU Vice President and Bargaining Team Member, on behalf of

Scott Hannahs, Specialized Faculty, and Jennifer Proffitt, Professor, Bargaining Team Co-Chairs

Post-Tenure Review Bargaining Update: October 25, 2023

Dear FSU Colleagues,

The UFF and BOT teams met Wednesday, October 25th, to discuss the latest BOT counter-offer on the memorandum of agreement (MOA) about the Post-Tenure Review (PTR) process. The UFF-FSU team started the meeting by clarifying that both teams agree on the importance of tenure for academic freedom and for the reputation of the university. The UFF-FSU bargaining team then asked questions to clarify some parts of the counter-offer, especially the changes proposed by the UFF-FSU bargaining team which were struck by the BOT team.  Discussion involved the following questions and concerns.

  • Why did the BOT team exclude the in-unit tenured chairs from the PTR process, given that they can request for postponement as long as they are chairs and even thereafter? The main reason they provided was that the Board of Governors’ (BOG) regulation considered chairs and unit directors as administration and excluded them from the process.
  • Why did the BOT team strike “calendar year” in defining the review period? Our team included calendar year in our last counter-offer because annual evaluations are performed on calendar years. The BOT team stated that the academic year is more consistent with BOG regulations. We note that if PTR is done on Spring 2024, neither calendar year nor academic year will consider the last five years of faculty who were granted tenure in the Fall of 2019. The calendar year includes Spring 2019, which is before they started their tenure and the academic year falls short one semester. The BOT team answered that they could not add “calendar” year because of the BOG regulation and said that they would be using some material from the academic year and some from the calendar year without prior specification.
  • We asked the BOT team to define the “average performance of faculty member within the unit and discipline.” We pointed out that this is not a well-defined concept and might lead to arbitrary decisions. Also, being below average can mean many faculty members (say, half) do not meet expectations. The BOT team argued that this is the language of the BOG regulations and they have no authority to change it. They added that the term “average” in the BOG regulation is a holistic concept and does not need to be defined rigorously as the UFF-FSU team requests.
  • The UFF-FSU faculty team raised concern about double jeopardy in the PTR process regarding disciplinary actions. We argue that if a faculty member is disciplined for an action in the past, the faculty member is not supposed to be disciplined again for the same action during the PTR, especially if the PTR leads to termination of the faculty member and weakens tenure. The BOT asserted that any disciplinary action must be a part of evaluation and that it is a widespread practice. However, they didn’t provide any reference to an institution in which this practice happens or any research that would show that such practices are widespread. They also promised that a faculty member who is disciplined but not terminated will never be terminated on the basis of past discipline, but they would not agree to include that language in the MOA. Part of the BOT’s reason for insisting on using past discipline to give faculty members an “Unsatisfactory” rating that could lead to termination was that the BOG regulation said so. We are in disagreement about whether or not the BOG has the authority to dictate these terms and conditions of employment when the BOG is not a party to the contract.
  • The BOT team rejected this language that we proposed: “The dean or Provost shall not grant the faculty member a rating that contradicts the last five years of annual evaluations to the point that a reasonable person would be surprised by the outcome.” Their main argument is that anybody can claim to be reasonable but may judge “surprise” differently. Our belief is that our proposed language provides guardrails so that there are no surprises in the PTR and the outcomes are consistent with the last five evaluations of the faculty member. Using a “reasonable person” standard is common practice in the law, though they claimed that a court wouldn’t know what to do with such a standard.
  • Why did the BOT team strike the requirement for “written justification” for the Provost’s PTR rating? The BOT team did not answer directly, but stated that justification would be in a letter to the faculty member as it is required by BOG regulations. They also argued that because the number of faculty included in PTR is high, this practice is impractical. However, they agree that there should be feedback to some faculty members, but not all.
  • While arbitration is banned by Florida Statute Sec. 1001.741(2) on decisions relating to PTR, we included language stating that if this law is invalidated—it is being challenged, an arbitrator should be allowed to set aside an adverse PTR decision if s/he feels the decision is unfair, despite CBA language giving considerable deference to administrator judgment. We argued that this is not an ordinary evaluation, with loss of tenure a possibility.   

All the best,

Arash Fahim, Bargaining Team Member, on behalf of

Scott Hannahs, Specialized Faculty, Magnet Lab, and Jennifer Proffitt, Professor, Communication

Co-Chief Negotiators, UFF-FSU