Bargaining update 1/10/24

Dear Colleagues,

We need to hear from you!

As you know, we have been in the process of bargaining with the administration over post-tenure review. The administration is implementing a policy that will end tenure as we know it at FSU. Though President McCullough told us in his “State of the University” address on 29 November that, “we’ve worked really hard… at trying to make sure that post-tenure review looks very similar to our 7-year reviews” and that very little will actually change, we see it differently. As the administration is insisting on including termination in the policy, post-tenure review will mean the end of tenure. In fact, the administration’s proposal is giving chairs, deans, and the provost arbitrary authority to decide over whether you can keep your tenure. We need you to respond and tell us what you think (if you’ve got a comment or suggestion, our emails can be found at the end of this message).

The most essential thing you can do is join us. The UFF is alone in defending tenure and the protections it brings with it — most importantly, academic freedom — in the face of enormous political attacks. While the UFF is involved in multiple litigations to protect your rights, the administration does not have your backs. If the union is decertified, tenure most likely will disappear with it.

We are currently within spitting distance of achieving the 60% membership that we need to stay certified. If you join today, you may be the hero who pushes us over the line.

Major disagreements still exist:

The BOT team refuses to accept language that promises any boost to base salary. This is alarming. They have agreed to a “monetary” award, but, under their proposal, that could be a small one-time bonus, and whether the award is a bonus or a boost to base salary could fluctuate from year to year. Though the president said that post-tenure review would be “a reward system for our faculty who are doing a great job,” if they get their way on this you might only get the raise you deserve if you happen to be reviewed in a year when the administration decides magnanimously to allot money for post-tenure raises, regardless of how successful you have been.

The BOT did not accept the language in our proposal that asserts:

·      The dean or Provost shall not assign the faculty member a rating that is inconsistent with the last five years of annual evaluations.

This surprised us. Throughout the process, the BOT team has been assuring us that there would be no surprises. But their resistance to this language suggests that the administration wants more flexibility in order to overturn past annual evaluations conducted by faculty evaluation committees and chairs and possibly terminate you.

The other disagreements that we’ve been having since the start persist: they insist that post-tenure review could lead to termination for not following “applicable regulations and laws” even though we know how confusing, vague, incoherent, and at times contradictory recent legislation on higher education has been, and most of us are not qualified to interpret these laws, particularly on-the-fly in the classroom.

They also insist that discipline should be folded into post-tenure review when investigatory findings have been substantiated, meaning that you could find yourself having to face further consequences for a disciplinary case that has been closed.

They are demanding that SPCI teaching evaluations be included, even though the contract language says that SPCIs alone are not sufficient to evaluate teaching. They tried to justify this by claiming that we have a one-page summary of accomplishments where we can justify anything that looks like a problem in the SPCIs. Those of you who have already prepared and submitted your post-tenure review: had you even considered that you were supposed to include explanations of your teaching evaluations in your list of accomplishments? We certainly hadn’t, and we don’t know of any departments that advised faculty to write about SPCI ratings in their one-page summary. 

Most mind-boggingly, the BOT team is insisting that the 5-year post-tenure review should encompass six years, some of them pre-tenure. On the one hand, they tell us they need to abide by what the BOG regulation tells them, but expanding the window of assessment willy-nilly goes far afield even of the BOG’s overreach.

We believe that post-tenure review is redundant: we are reviewed every year for our accomplishments, and the administration already has plenty of tools for disciplining wrongdoing. All that post-tenure review will do is to allow the administration a second chance to go after you in an evaluation procedure that might not have anything to do with the annual review process, its outcomes, or your accomplishments.

We believe that the materials and process should be as clear as possible to the faculty member and the outcome should not differ from the last five years of annual evaluations. The BOT team’s reason for not accepting our offer is that the Board of Governors regulations do not allow them to. We continue to maintain that the BOG is not party to this negotiation and cannot dictate contract provisions by fiat. That position is being tested in a current case before the Public Employees Relation Commission (PERC).

The next round of negotiations is not scheduled yet, but we are already preparing our next proposal. We would really like some advice from you about how to proceed. Please feel free to respond to this message, and we encourage you to attend bargaining sessions if you can.

In the meantime, if you are not already a UFF member in good standing (paying dues via eDues or by check), 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 by January 26, we simply won’t have a contract to defend. Please join now. It only takes a minute. Here’s the link:  

Robin Goodman ([email protected]), UFF-FSU Bargaining Team Member, on behalf of 

Scott Hannahs, Specialized Faculty ([email protected]), and Jennifer Proffitt, Professor ([email protected]), Bargaining Team Co-Chairs 

Update on Post-Tenure Review Bargaining: Dec 12, 2023

The Board of Trustees (BOT) and UFF faculty (UFF) bargaining teams met Wednesday (12/6) to continue their negotiations on Post-Tenure Review (PTR). 

Major differences still exist around some issues, including, most importantly: 1) the UFF believes that discipline should be implemented at the time of the offense and be done, so a faculty member should only be punished for that offense once; the BOT thinks past discipline should be reconsidered along with faculty members’ five-year performance review, perhaps leading to different results; 2) the UFF believes that the rating of “Unsatisfactory” should not be included because it leads to termination and therefore upends tenure at FSU; 3) the UFF believes that faculty members should not be surprised by the outcomes of these reviews, while the BOT team wants to let the chair arbitrarily decide (perhaps differentially for different faculty members) what evidentiary materials should be considered.

Though this is a tough road, we believe that if we weren’t working to defend your rights as faculty, nobody else would. The administration has advised us to stay the course and that nobody will be fired for what they teach. Nevertheless, the administration has not said it would defend individual faculty members in the face of complaints, mob protests, or political attacks – only the union has.

The session started with a new proposal from UFF designed to make the PTR more faculty friendly. A summary of our new offer is presented here: 

  1. We included “calendar” year in the definition of Review Period — 5 calendar years. We believe that faculty deserve to have no ambiguity about the Review Period.
  2. We excluded the department chairs from the definition of Administrative Role to let chairs be eligible for a PTR-based monetary raise. If a chair does not want to go up for review, they can apply for a postponement.
  3. We reinserted that the evidence of performance must include the past 5 years of annual review along with Assignments of Responsibilities, which the BOT team had taken out at our prior meeting. We wanted to ensure that faculty would not be surprised at their ratings, whereas the BOT team had erased any guardrails to what would be considered, making the selection of materials arbitrary.
  4. For the evidence of “unsatisfactory” rating, which in the BOT’s version results in firing faculty, we added “evidence of gross incompetence” and referred to the Discipline Article (Article 16), which specifies procedures for progressive discipline.
  5. Past disciplinary offenses and actions would not be considered (no double jeopardy). This remains one of the subjects of disagreement between the two teams.
  6. We added that the Provost’s notification to faculty of the rating, justification, and outcomes of their review shall be in writing.
  7. We added back the language on the consistency of the PTR ratings with the past five years’ annual evaluations.
  8. Ratings of Exceeds Expectations or Meets Expectations would result in a 12% raise. We believe that the faculty deserve to know what monetary reward is awaiting them.
  9. In the outcome for “Does not meet expectations”, we included a reference to the CBA, which lays out a process for implementing a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP).
  10. We included the same appeal process as in our previous offer, which includes an outside arbitrator for represented faculty if permitted by law.

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

  • They struck down the calendar year from the definition of PTR period. However, they added start and end dates for the PTR material, e.g., SPCI reports from Fall 2018 to Summer 2023.
  • Chairs would be exempt from the PTR process and any associated monetary reward. However, they added language that chairs shall be reviewed annually per BOG regulations in a still unspecified process.
  • Monetary rewards would be left unspecified. However, they added language
  • saying that the amounts shall be negotiated in the next regular bargaining reopener as well as whether the reward will be a bonus or an increase to base.
  • They accepted the addition of a new section, “Criteria for determining performance rating scale”. However, they replaced “Evidence” with “Examples of evidence” and “shall” with “may”, e.g., “Examples of evidence to support the rating may include…” replaced our “Evidence to support the rating shall include…” This leaves the chair’s decision of what to include and exclude for consideration in their review utterly arbitrary.
  • The BOT team stuck down the “gross incompetence” in the “unsatisfactory” rating and added back their language, which includes “disregard or failure to follow previous advice”.
  • Chairs and equivalent would consider annual evaluations and past disciplinary offenses in their letters assessing performance.
  • The reference to the CBA on Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) is removed because this reference is for specialized faculty and PTR is for tenured faculty.
  • A rating of “Unsatisfactory” would result in a Provost recommendation of termination. We believe this changes tenure and conflicts with the contract’s definition of tenure as permanent employment except when it comes to resignation, retirement, layoff, or dismissal for just cause.

The next round of negotiations is not scheduled yet and is expected to happen in January. 

In the meantime, if you are not already a UFF member in good standing (paying dues via eDues or a check), 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 and we won’t be able to bargain with the administration over post-tenure review, raises, or anything else. Please join now. It only takes a minute. Here’s the link:  

Arash Fahim, UFF-FSU Bargaining Team Member, on behalf of 

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

AAUP Report: Political Interference and Academic Freedom in Florida’s Public Higher Education System

The AAUP Report regarding the impact of Florida’s political interference is now available.

Below are selected quotes.

There is a tremendous sense of dread right now, not just among faculty; it’s tangible among students and staff as well.

We are tired of being demonized by our government. Many of us are looking to leave Florida, and if we don’t, we will leave academia, and nobody wants our jobs.

Senate Bill 520 … creates a Florida sunshine law exemption for personal identifying information of candidates for state university presidencies

Charging that accrediting agencies have an “inordinate amount of power,” Governor DeSantis signed a bill, SB 7044, on April 19, 2022, that requires public colleges and universities in the state to change accreditors at the end of each accreditation cycle, a process that can take as long as ten years.

… the political interference in classroom teaching that began in 2021 is unprecedented in its sweep and ambition in both the state and the nation, with a frightening potential impact on the academic freedom of faculty members.

Post tenure review … although board representatives claimed that no one would be fired without being granted the opportunity to first complete a performance-improvement plan, the policy clearly permits immediate dismissal upon receipt of an “unsatisfactory” rating.

Governor DeSantis signed SB 256, a measure aimed at limiting union power.83 Under the law, government employees, including university faculty, may no longer have their union dues deducted from their paychecks. Union members must now take extra steps to set up payment plans to remain up to date. Additionally, as of October, public employee unions must share data with the state about how many of their members have paid dues in the most recent membership renewal cycle. If a union does not cross a threshold of at least 60 percent of dues-paying members, the union will be decertified.

These past events provide context for what has become a central thrust of the reactionary assault on learning in Florida (and nationwide): the move to eliminate programs aimed at promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) at colleges and universities.

The unprecedented takeover of New College of Florida and the imposition at that institution of an aggressively ideological and politically motivated agenda, marked by improper denials of tenure and a faculty member’s dismissal without due process, stands as one of the most egregious and extensive violations of AAUP principles and standards at a single institution in recent memory.