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: https://uff-fsu.org/get-involved/join/  

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.

The Fate of Collective Bargaining at FSU

The bargaining team regularly writes you with bargaining updates.  This email is different.

Unless more faculty members join, our union could be decertified early in the new year.

We have years of experience negotiating the Collective Bargaining Agreement, and we know what is in store for faculty if the union is decertified and the CBA is dead.  We know because the FSU Board of Trustees fights for the same wish list year after year:  They seek to shorten the length of contracts for Specialized Faculty, and every year we put the kibosh on it. They seek to shuffle a high proportion of salary increase dollars into a pot solely administered by deans, and every year we redirect much of it to all faculty or to faculty whose peers evaluated their merit.  

Those almost-guaranteed changes are the tip of the iceberg. 

The CBA comprises 31 articles and 11 appendices that the UFF and the Board of Trustees (BOT) have agreed to, and all of them will disappear.  In their place, the Governor-appointed BOT will unilaterally determine promotion criteria, the rank order of faculty in a layoff, grievance rights, the content allowable in performance evaluation folders, the extent of academic freedom, and a couple dozen other policies, procedures, and rights.   

We are your bargaining team, holding decades of experience in negotiations, and we know what the future without a faculty voice would look like.  Don’t let it happen. We need 80 more faculty members to join and the 95 former members who missed the eDues deadline to re-join our union.

Join now.  Here’s the link to join or re-join: Tomorrow is too late. 

All the best,

Your UFF-FSU Bargaining Team

Brian Arsenault

Michael Buchler

Arash Fahim

Jack Fiorito

Robin Goodman

Scott Hannahs

Matthew Lata

Jennifer Proffitt