Bargaining Update – April 6, 2022

Bargaining last Wednesday was a flurry of activity, with six proposals passed back and forth.  If you open the links below, be aware that the BOT team puts their counter-proposal changes in yellow.  

 The teams reached their first tentative agreement, on Article 5 (Academic Freedom), which now specifies that academic freedom pertains not only to matters outside faculty members’ area of scholarly interest but to those within it, as well.  It also adds “protected free speech” as one of the freedoms faculty members enjoy.  

The BOT presented a revised proposal of Article 19 (Conflict of Interest) which was the same as their previous one except that it includes an appendix itemizing reportable and non-reportable activity.  The UFF likes the specificity of an appendix and its counter-proposal will include one.  

The BOT also presented a counter-proposal on Article 18 (Inventions and Works) that accepts some of the UFF’s proposals but made changes that strike the UFF as unworkable in their present form, such as seeming to define “appreciable University support” to include salary, past and present.  

The UFF presented a counter-proposal on Article 8 (Appointments) that rejected the BOT’s proposal to reducethe 4-year contracts for Specialized Faculty in the top rank to 3 years and to provide for annual contract renewal.  Contract length is a bright-line issue for us.  When we originally negotiated the provisions covering specialized faculty appointments, the teams had made a deal:  the UFF would agree to a much more rigorous promotion process in exchange for lengthier contracts.  The rigorous promotion process ensures that faculty who reach the top have earned it, and thus it stands to reason that they should have more secure contracts.  It’s unclear why this state of affairs should change.   

The UFF also presented its Article 17 (Leaves) proposal, which turns the existing “paid parental leave” into “paid family leave” and specifies that a faculty member can use it twice in a career instead of just once.  The UFF believes that family-friendliness spans the life course; while some faculty will use paid family leave for birth or adoption, as they do now, others will find it useful for caring for a different relative, perhaps a parent.  And we believe that having the option twice over the course of a career is reasonable. 

The UFF also opened Article 12 (Non-reappointment) to improve clarity and to propose a modified version of just-cause for non-renewal. What that means is that for faculty without tenure, instead of the current practice of offering a vague reason, such as “the best interests of the University” or “the University is moving in a different direction,” the University would have to “provide enough specificity to allow a neutral reader to determine whether the faculty member was non-reappointed for good and sufficient reason.” Our goal in including such language is that it will reduce non-reappointments for arbitrary reasons.  

The next bargaining session is scheduled for this Wed., April 13, from 12:45-2:45.  Please note the earlier-than-usual time.  Bargaining sessions are open to faculty, and we appreciate having you!  Meetings are face-to-face at the FSU Training Center (493 Stadium Drive). We are pleased that faculty are showing up in person and via Zoom.  If you would like to attend remotely please respond to this message and we’ll send you the Zoom link.  

Regular updates can be found at our webpage:  http://uff-fsu.org/ 

The key to a strong Collective Bargaining Agreement is a strong membership base, so if you are not a member, please join! There has never been a more important time for us to stand together.  http://uff-fsu.org/wp/join/ 

All best, 

Irene Padavic and Scott Hannahs, Co-Chief Negotiators, UFF-FSU 

Spring 2022 Faculty Poll Results

In Spring 2022, 581 faculty members completed the UFF-FSU Faculty Poll.

  • 88% felt that across-the board raises for cost of living should be a high priority.
  • 45% said that the minimum across the board salary increase that would allow them to ratify the contract was what was needed to keep up with the current rate of inflation [7.9%, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics]
  • 44% felt that UFF should work towards advocating for retirement benefits (25% a lot, 19% all it can).
  • 78% opposed or strongly opposed legislation that would allow university presidential searches to be in secret.
  • 84% opposed or strongly opposed legislation that prohibits any speech in the classroom that “might make students uncomfortable” because of racial, LGBTQ+, or other issues that speech might engender.
  • 89% opposed or strongly opposed legislation that legislation to allow concealed carry permit holders to carry guns on campus.
  • 64% opposed or strongly opposed legislation that would require union members to annually reauthorize payroll dues deduction.
  • 68% agree or strongly agree that participation in faculty governance as an ethical obligation and engage accordingly.
  • 51% agree or strongly agree that assignments to teach online should be given only to faculty who volunteer to teach online.
  • 74% fell somewhat or very positive towards the UFF-FSU Chapter.

In the Comments:

  • Salary inversion and inflation are the largest two issues currently.
  • The growing inflation rate makes it imperative that the administration come through with funding raises to the base salary this year–not one-time bonuses
  • FSU should be part of the tuition exchange program, as is UF, https://www.tuitionexchange.org/ a great benefit for their employees.
  • We need safe working conditions.
  • Non-renewal without just cause should not be allowed.
  • Morale is at an all time low, I suspect there will be a brain drain given state government priorities, so its important for UFF to do what it can to prevent talented faculty from leaving the state.
  • To allow two faculty members to take leave for the same birth. Currently, spouses who work at FSU cannot both take parental leave at the same time. This is truly an inequity for spouses who both work at FSU.
  • Requiring public sector unions to have 50% in a right to work state is not desirable and needs to be defeated.
  • I hope that UFF-FSU is taking a strong stand on these legislative issues regarding academic freedom and speech.
  • We need to advocate for better pay and HR policies as relates to our staff colleagues.
  • SALARY IS ALL THAT MATTERS AT THIS POINT.

Survey Responses With Comments:

https://uff-fsu.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/UFF-FSU-Spring-2022-Faculty-Poll-Results-Post.pdf

Survey Responses Without Comments:

https://uff-fsu.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/UFF-FSU-Spring-2022-Faculty-Poll-Results-PostNoComments.pdf

BARGAINING UPDATE – MARCH 18, 2022

Dear Colleagues,  

Bargaining season is upon us, and the BOT and UFF teams met on Wednesday to begin exchanging proposals. The teams presented two articles each. 

The first one on the table was UFF-FSU’s expansion of language in Article 5 (Academic Freedom), where we tightened up language that clarifies that academic freedom principles apply to faculty in matters inside their area of scholarly expertise, not just outside it.   

The BOT team proposed changes to Article 8 (Appointments), in particular, reducing the 4-year contracts for Specialized Faculty in the top rank to 3 years and providing for annual contract renewal. We note that this group—faculty in the top SF rank—typically have been at FSU for at least 10 years and have been promoted twice.  Perhaps this record of solid performance for many years deserves the courtesy of 4-year contracts and a 2-year renewal period!  It has worked well for many years. The BOT also proposed some other small changes to this article. 

The UFF team was up next and presented a proposal on Article 18 (Inventions and Works).  Most of our changes seem non-controversial, in that they simply improve the article’s organizational structure (for example, by putting the definition of “University Support” at the beginning rather than embedded in a subsection).  A substantive change involves removing the distinction between the treatment of “works” and “inventions” owned by the University.  Thus, whereas in the current contract a faculty member who creates a work receives 50% of the royalties and a faculty member who creates an invention receives 40% (after the first $10,000), under this proposal both would receive 60%. We pointed out that the current distribution system leaves many faculty feeling disincentivized.  

The final article was the BOT’s proposal for Article 19 (Conflict of Interest), which covers two substantive areas.  The first is reporting outside activities and the meaning of “conflict of interest.” It may be a bit early to report on their proposal, as the words they proposed turned out to not be what they meant.  For example, when we balked at the requirement for faculty to reveal their “financial interests,” which “includes anything of value other than that provided directly by the University,” saying that our retirement-account dividends weren’t the University’s business, it turns out that they didn’t mean that at all. Nor does the requirement to report “a description of the item of value and the name of the entity or the individual providing the item of value” really mean that a faculty member who also acts as a counselor must reveal the names of clients. More to come once we gain clarity.  

More worrisome at this point is their proposed language defining conflict of interest:  “any situation in which regard for a private interest of the faculty member tends to lead to disregard of a public duty or the public interests of the University.”  To the BOT’s credit, they removed current language that includes “the State of Florida” in that list, but we are troubled by the blurriness of “tends to,” which seems to bear no relation to any actual action a faculty member engages in.  

The second substantive area of the Conflict of Interest article involves consensual sexual relationships with students.  The BOT proposes striking most of the language governing these relationships (e.g., the requirement to end any situation involving supervision/evaluation and the requirement to disclose the relationship to a supervisor) and replacing it with a blanket prohibition against “sexual or romantic advances” and “sexual or romantic relationships.”  

What is the definition of a romantic relationship?  The BOT proposes this: “Intimate associations primarily characterized by the expectation of affectional involvement and/or demonstrates the desire to engage in sexualized relations whether emotional or physical.” Even if you force the sentence to parse by changing “demonstrates” to “the demonstration of,” the problems with the sentence loom large.  Most disturbing is the fact that a relationship is made up of two people, but this language is about a relationship, not a person.  What if one party (say a student) believes the other is engaged in “affectional involvement” but the other party (say a faculty member) feels nothing of the sort and is not even aware that a possible emotional engagement in the air?  Presumably the party who is not exquisitely attuned to the other party’s fantasy life will be disciplined, up to and including termination.  

We explained that we are not minimizing the damage caused by sexual harassment; indeed, we find the practice abhorrent and strongly support the provisions in Article 6 (nondiscrimination) that prohibit it and sanction faculty who engage in it.  But the relationships described in Article 19 are consensual and could be between people in different departments who have no supervisory or evaluative relationship within FSU.   

Despite disagreements, the meeting was cordial.  Indeed, an impartial observer might even characterize it as having elements of affectional involvement.  

The next bargaining session is scheduled for Wed., March 30, 2:00-5:00.  

Bargaining sessions are open to faculty, and we appreciate having you!  Meetings are face-to-face at the FSU Training Center (493 Stadium Drive), and we were pleased that faculty showed up at the session. About a dozen faculty attended via Zoom instead and said it worked well.  If you would like to attend remotely please respond to this message and we’ll send you the Zoom link.  

Regular updates can be found at our webpage:  http://uff-fsu.org/ 

The key to a strong Collective Bargaining Agreement is a strong membership base, so if you are not a member, please join! There has never been a more important time for us to stand together.  http://uff-fsu.org/wp/join/ 

All best, 

Irene Padavic and Scott Hannahs, Co-Chief Negotiators, UFF-FSU 

Bargaining Conclusion – September 15, 2021

Dear Colleagues,

The BOT and the UFF bargaining teams concluded negotiations for the 2021-2022 year on Wednesday, September 15.  We agreed to change only one article in the CBA:  Article 23 – Salaries.The article specifies raises and bonuses as follows, and details can be found here:

  • Continuation of Promotion Increases of 12% for the second rank and 15% for the top rank.
  • Continuation of Sustained Performance Increases of 3% for eligible full professors, eminent scholars, and the top rank of Specialized Faculty working for seven years or more after their promotion to the top rank.
  • A one-time non-recurring performance-based bonus in the amount of 3% or $3,000, whichever is higher, for faculty with an overall annual evaluation of at least “meets FSU’s high expectations” on the annual evaluation of their 2020 performance (conducted in Spring 2021).  The bonus will appear in November 19 paychecks.
  • Administrative Discretionary Increases for increased duties, extraordinary accomplishments, counteroffers, and certain other reasons specified in Sec. 23.9, totaling up to 0.8% of the faculty salary base.

This bargaining season was characterized by strong participation from you—faculty members—and your faithful presence at session after session increased the pressure and made the difference between the administration’s initial bonus offer of $1,200 and the final one (the greater of $3,000 or 3%).  Your presence was inspiring to us and noticed by the BOT team!

Faculty need to ratify this tentative agreement along with three Memoranda of Understanding—one covering Covid-related issues for Summer, another covering them for Fall, and a third expanding funding for the Tuition Scholarship for Spouses and Dependents.  We will send instructions for ratification voting shortly. 

Again, thank you for your support!  Next spring we face “full book” negotiations, which means all 31 CBA articles are open.  To reject bad ideas and to enact good ones (paid family leave, anyone?) we need high membership numbers.  If you are not a member, please join.

All best,

Irene Padavic and Scott Hannahs

Co-Chief Negotiators, UFF-FSU