Bargaining Update, April 24, 2024

Dear colleagues,

The UFF-FSU and BOT teams met on Wednesday, April 24 for collective bargaining. I know many of you are primarily interested in salary; unfortunately, we haven’t yet heard a response from the administration on the salary proposal that we submitted three weeks ago at the outset of bargaining. The topics of the day were sabbaticals and professional leaves, faculty safety (addressing environmental concerns and violence), and our effort to defend due process in contract enforcement by creating a system that would act in lieu of arbitration, which has been limited by recent legislation.

I’ll summarize the negotiating positions below; if you’re interested in greater detail, please click on the links and read the marked-up contract articles. We’re always glad to receive your thoughts and questions, and we’re especially grateful for your membership, which makes bargaining possible. Please click here to join and support your union if you’re not yet a member. Our bargaining position is strengthened by increased membership density.


Article 20 (Grievance Procedure and Dispute Resolution): This article is currently called “Grievance Procedure and Arbitration,” but the Powers-That-Be in our legislature don’t think that faculty should be able to arbitrate contract disputes, leaving the ultimate decisions to our benevolent bosses and to our politically appointed Trustees (meaning that one party in the dispute ultimately gets to decide the outcome, a position we believe is unconstitutional). Our union siblings at Florida International University have already successfully negotiated a creative alternative called the “Neutral Internal Resolution of Disputes Procedure” (NIRD), and we’re hoping to bring that same NIRDiness to our contract. The administration’s hired lawyer who negotiates for the BOT was also party to the FIU agreement, so we hope that he’ll be amenable to this very fair way to make sure everyone abides by the contract we collectively bargain.

Article 21 (Other Faculty Rights): both sides are trying to clarify language that will mandate regular follow-up inspections of buildings where radon was found. Your UFF-FSU team also asked the administration to enact straightforward measures to protect faculty and students from violent attacks in classrooms, offices, laboratories, and in other shared spaces. The BOT rejected this request, saying that they already follow “best practices.” I don’t know what “best practices” means in this regard (do you?). We’ve been requesting greater security measures for many years now, and we hope to get some concrete measures in place. The administration points out that adding infrastructure such as panic buttons and automatically locking doors is pricey, and it surely is. But none of us wants to imagine the price of inaction. The administration does seem willing to convene a joint committee to make recommendations. Perhaps that will help us move from best practices to praxis. On a related note, the very next day one trigger-happy Florida Representative signaled that he will introduce legislation to allow students to carry guns on campus and get paid for it.

Article 22 (Sabbaticals and Professional Development Leaves): when we opened this article, we wanted greater flexibility in the way specialized faculty could take professional development leaves, breaking them up into smaller segments. The administration agreed, but they did so while moving the length of time between leaves from three to six years, supposedly to be consistent with tenured faculty members’ ability to take sabbaticals. We responded by suggesting five years between sabbaticals and professional development leaves. This week the BOT helpfully assured us that six years is “the industry standard,” and they restated their view that specialized faculty could have more flexible leave only if they had markedly less leave. We heard from a number of you who were very upset that professional development leaves might become scarcer. We take your concerns seriously and have used and will continue to use your excellent arguments (always anonymously!) in the bargaining room. Your comments and, again, your membership really do help us do our jobs better.

And if you’d to see bargaining in action, our next session is this Wednesday (May 1) from 3:00–5:00 at the Training Center across from the Stadium. We’d love to have you join us; participating in collective bargaining is a far better way to spend May Day than dancing ‘round a Maypole.

In solidarity,

Michael Buchler, Professor of Music Theory, FSU College of Music

On behalf of your UFF-FSU Collective Bargaining Team

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