Bargaining Update May 8, 2024

Dear colleagues,

First, we hope that you all made it through Friday’s storms in good shape! Our parent union, the Florida Education Association, has a page of resources for people who need help during natural disasters. Please don’t hesitate to reach out for assistance.

On to the update, which I’m afraid will sound a lot like recent weeks’ updates. We still haven’t heard anything about salaries, despite the fact that we were told (three weeks ago) to expect a response two weeks ago. We are, as always, especially eager to bargain salaries long before our fall contracts begin. All raises—including those for promotions and post-tenure review—hang in the balance.

And speaking of post-tenure review (PTR), your UFF-FSU team proposed a simple and very clear algorithm for PTR in Article 10 (Evaluations). Here is the version that we proposed (look at the new material on p. 10), and here is the version that the BOT offered in response (look at pp. 10–12). Our proposal adheres to the law passed last year by the Florida legislature but removes all the draconian measures that we believe have been unconstitutionally imposed by the Florida Board of Governors. See last week’s update for the litany of terrible things that the BOG wants to inflict (e.g., removal of due process, double jeopardy for disciplinary action, and the effective end of tenure and its important protections).

If you’d like some legal context, here is what the legislature passed, mandating PTR (search for “tenure” and read part (6)(b) on pp. 5–6 of the pdf, which lists four criteria for evaluating PTR). Compare that to the BOG’s regulation on PTR, which, like poison ivy in Tallahassee, perennially regrows, no matter how many times—and in how many ways—you remove it. In particular, you might note that the legislature specified that the BOG’s plan must include “recognition and compensation considerations, as well as improvement plans and consequences for underperformance.” Well, the BOG simply decreed that there will be compensation (A raise? A bonus? A $1.79 Wal-Mart gift card? Who knows?! We won’t have any idea what FSU intends until they pass a salary offer—Article 23—across the table) and their idea of an improvement plan is simply that you’ll be fired if you’ve been declared “unsatisfactory.” I know that none of the BOG appointees ever meanders anywhere near an actual classroom, which is just as well: can you imagine if they had to make a syllabus and articulate grading policies?

In other news, we agreed with the administration’s proposal that we adopt a four-point evaluation scale (instead of our current five-point scale), but we steadfastly pushed back on their attempt to double the amount of time specialized faculty must wait between Professional Development Leaves (see Article 22, Sabbaticals and Professional Development Leaves). We also came closer to agreement on both environmental and violence protection measures for faculty and staff (see Article 21, Other Faculty Rights). We are, however, further from agreement on Article 20 (Grievance Procedure and Arbitration). We want an in-house procedure (that Neutral Internal Resolution of Disputes Procedure [yes, NIRD], detailed two weeks ago) to resolve disputes; they think it would be better if faculty skipped the whole grievance process and went directly to court over personnel disputes. Perhaps we shouldn’t have been surprised that lawyers would advocate for more lawsuits, but since one of their lawyers helped write the original NIRD language during FIU’s collective bargaining, we naïvely imagined that that they would approve of their own language. We assumed that they would also rather avoid litigation, but perhaps their lawyers give them a bulk discount.

That’s the pith of it. Let us know your thoughts, join your union to help make us stronger, and come again to bargaining this week in person or online. Same Bat Time (2:00 on Wednesday); same Bat Zoom Link.

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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