Bargaining Update, May 29, 2024

Dear colleagues,

We had our seventh bargaining session of this bargaining season on May 29. Here’s an update on where we are in the process.

Your UFF faculty team decided that it was not productive to keep passing the same proposals on evaluations (Article 10) back and forth across the table until PERC (the Public Employees Relations Commission) rules on our claim that the Board of Governors’ and our Board of Trustees’ regulation on post-tenure review is an unfair labor practice. To recap: the hearing officer sided with us back in March, but the full PERC board has yet to rule. We don’t know when they’ll hand down their decision. The university is saying they are just following the law, but we believe they are exceeding the law. The PERC Hearing Officer said that the university “should have known better” than to implement post-tenure review without bargaining, should “cease and desist,” and must pay us back legal fees. We hope the full commission will affirm our clear right to collectively bargain the BOT’s regulation and will not allow tenure to be undermined by arbitrary legislative and administrative fiat.

In bargaining Article 20 (grievances), we changed our direction and proposed a different substitute for arbitration (which, for personnel matters, has been outlawed by our state legislature). We suggested that the Faculty Senate Grievance Committee could play a role in hearing appeals to grievance decisions. The peer panel’s decision would not be binding, but it would provide another set of faculty voices to help inform the President’s final ruling. Ultimately, we hope that the legislature’s new law will be ruled unconstitutional in the lawsuit we brought, but meanwhile we will do what we can to try to prevent administrators from holding all the cards. We earnestly believe that administrators should not want to hold that much power; where one side has unchecked power, the potential for claims of abuse is high.

Let’s talk about salaries (Article 23): the administration improved slightly upon their previous offer, raising departmental merit to 0.75% (from 0.5%) and sticking with 0.5% in “dean’s merit” (= raises that are distributed by the deans alone, with no guidelines or faculty input) and a 1.5% “performance increase” (effectively an across-the-board raise to everyone rated above “official concern”). Even in aggregate, their offer doesn’t come close to this year’s 3.2% increase in cost of living. And it doesn’t include any money for market equity adjustments for long-serving faculty who are still compressed or inverted compared with their more recently hired colleagues.

The BOT team also doubled down on their proposal to reward faculty who have gone through post-tenure review in ways that we find upsettingly lopsided: associate professors would get a bonus of $2,000 or $4,000, depending upon whether they’ve been rated as meeting or exceeding expectations and full professors would receive a 4% or 2% salary bump. Again, we reject the notion that they need to have differential rankings for faculty who pass the PTR evaluation. Just like we don’t get ranked when going up for promotion (you get it or you don’t), we don’t need to be ranked here, especially when these expectations that we’re said to meet or exceed are not only completely undefined, but the administration refuses to define them. Adding insult to injury, the 2% raise is smaller than the 3% Sustained Performance Increase that full professors would previously have gotten (and which specialized faculty are still slated to receive) without the bureaucratic calisthenics and existential dread of PTR. Our position is clear: everyone who goes through this should get the same reward. We think 3%—the same as an SPI raise—is fair.

We hope you will join us at bargaining this week on Tuesday (not Wednesday), June 4 at 2:00 at the Stadium Training Center, which can be accessed from Stadium Drive (across from the stadium) or from Jackson Bluff (across from the Palace Saloon). Or feel free to join us on Zoom at his link.

And if you haven’t already done so, please join your colleagues in the union and help us fight for the rights and well-being of every faculty member.

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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