Report to Faculty Senate on University Welfare, March 21, 2012

Collective Bargaining

Faculty voted overwhelmingly in favor of the changes and supplements to our Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) in last month’s ratification vote.  A special thanks to those of you who voted!

I hope everyone has completed the reading assignments that I announced at last month’s Senate (see the February Senate Minutes).  They will be helpful in appreciating some of the issues under discussion at the bargaining table.

Bargaining resumed even before the ratification voting, and we have met almost every Friday this semester.  Main topics have included the Specialized (or NTT) Faculty reclassification project, performance evaluation, promotion, and tenure.  We are making some progress on these.

In evaluation, a notable change we are moving toward, at the Administration’s urging, is a more detailed set of rating categories to replace the current scheme (satisfactory, official concern, and unsatisfactory).  There are various other minor changes, but a key concern for our faculty team is maintaining important principles such as a clear link between assigned duties and evaluations, and a strong role for faculty members in evaluation and merit distributions.

In promotion and tenure, the Administration wants to formalize 2nd and 4th-year reviews for Assistant Professors and require more outside letters.  We see potential value to faculty in the “2&4” reviews, but of course we are proceeding with caution to try to make sure there are not adverse consequences for Assistant Professors.  Frankly, we see little value in more letters and considerable risk and added burden for faculty.  How many of you want to write more outside letters for candidates at other schools?  Here too, there are various other minor changes under discussion, and we have to be careful of unintended adverse consequences for faculty.

As reported previously, a central difficulty in the SF or NTTF reclassification project is securing FSU’s commitment to a tenured and tenure-track faculty, despite the nominal commitment already in places such as our CBA and the FSU Constitution.  I can say that the faculty and administration teams are working hard to accommodate the University’s expressed need for flexibility with diverse faculty interests and the admirable goals and principles expressed in the Faculty Senate Sub-committee’s report on Specialized (NTT) Faculty.

At the Ledge 

Everyone has surely heard about the budget cuts, compensation cuts, drug testing, and other bad ideas passed.  And yes, it may be cold comfort, but it could have been much worse.  Of course we hope the Supreme Court will see the wisdom in Judge Fulford’s decision striking down last year’s pay cut.  The UFF will continue to advance and defend faculty interests at the bargaining table, in the facilitation and grievance process, at consultations, in the legislature, and in the courts when necessary.

Questions?   Thank you for your time.

Appendix:  Selected Excerpts and References on Specialized (Non-Tenure Track) Faculty

Excerpt from the Report of the Faculty Senate Sub-committee on Non-Tenure-Track Faculty, Revised Nov. 27, 2006.  Available via search at FSU or UFF-FSU web sites (with emphases added): (Revised Nov. 11, 2006)

The following principles have guided the work of the ad hoc sub-committee:

1. The University should stay true to the FSU Constitution‘s vision of a tenured faculty and seek to maximize the ratio of tenured and tenure-accruing faculty to NTT faculty, recognizing the different needs and traditions of different Colleges, notably professional colleges such as Medicine;

2. The important contributions of NTT faculty to the work of Florida State University must be recognized;

3. The rights (continuing contracts, opportunities for promotion and merit-based salary increases, participation in University governance, etc.) and responsibilities of NTT faculty need to be explicitly defined;

4. The work of NTT faculty must be significantly different from that of tenure-track faculty (TTF) and the use of NTT faculty lines in academic units should be limited to assignments that cannot be performed by TTF;

5. The classification codes and working titles for NTTF positions must present a consistent system, communicate to the broad academic community (at FSU and elsewhere) that the NTTF member is in a faculty role, and identify the predominant duties of the individual; and

6. The recommendations of the committee should lay out a clear model for an implementation plan, but not attempt to specify every detail.

Excerpt from the 2010-13 Collective Bargaining Agreement for the FSU General Faculty Bargaining Unit (emphasis added):

8.3 Commitment to developing and maintaining a tenured faculty. The Board agrees that it is in the best interests of the University, the faculty, and the students to maximize the ratio of tenured and tenure-accruing E&G appointments to the number of non-tenure-accruing E&G appointments, among those appointments including significant teaching responsibilities. The University Administration shall provide information to the UFF on the number of credit hours taught in the University, broken down by the position class code of the instructor.

Working Document on Non-Tenure-Track Faculty Reclassifications (joint report):

The Constitution of The Florida State University…/FSUConstitution.pdf

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