Bargaining Update – July 9, 2021

Dear Colleagues,

The UFF and Board of Trustees (BOT) teams met on Wednesday, July 7, to hear the BOT’s counter-proposal on Article 23 (Salaries) and to discuss other outstanding articles. 

Did the pandemic upend your professional life and increase your workload?  Perhaps you were heartened by the Administration’s appreciative comments. And perhaps you expected some financial follow-through.  We know we did.  Silly us!  The BOT is offering almost no raises this year.  Virtually none.  Here’s a comparison of proposals.

 UFF-FSU proposalBOT proposalDescriptionNo. faculty receiving 2018Pct. of faculty receiving 2018
Promotions12%/15%12%/15%12% to associate or specialized II; 15% to full or specialized III1036.0%
SPI (Sustained Performance Increase)3%3%Septennial raise for faculty at the highest rank291.7%
Across-the-board raises5%0%   
Merit raises2.5%0%   
Market equity raises$3,000,000$0Supplement to faculty earning less than national averages for their position  
Bonus$2,000$1,200   

The BOT proposal offers raises to approximately 7.7% of faculty.  The rest get a $1,200 bonus, enough to buy a large Vanilla Macchiato every weekday to kick start our flagging motivation.

We are astounded and insulted.  Astounded because FSU’s April 24 “Legisletter” highlighted the $15 million funded request, partially for faculty salaries, following CBA requirements.  Insulted because this is the second year in a row of no across-the-board raises, a situation particularly galling because of the stupendous effort we put into meeting our students’ needs during the pandemic, keeping our departments and units afloat, and doing it without complaint.

It’s time to complain. The next bargaining session is scheduled for Wednesday, July 14, from 2:00–4:00We need you to show up to make it clear that faculty believe a fair day’s work deserves a fair day’s pay.  Coincidentally, that’s Bastille Day.  Show up and let your presence register your concern about the direction the BOT team is taking. .Here is the Zoom link:  https://fsu.zoom.us/j/96161024932

We also invite you to attend the UFF happy hour this Friday at 5:00 at World of Beer on Apalachee Parkway (the former Genghis Grill restaurant).  Bargaining team members will be present.

The bargaining session also entailed presenting the UFF’s latest proposal on Article 19 (Conflict of Interest) and the BOT’s proposal for an MOU on the Tuition Scholarship for Spouses and Dependents, which they continue to refuse to put in the CBA. 

Regular updates can be found at our webpage: https://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. https://uff-fsu.org/wp/join/

All best,

Irene Padavic and Scott Hannahs

Co-Chief Negotiators, UFF-FSU

Bargaining Update – June 9, 2021

Dear Colleagues,

The UFF and Board of Trustees (BOT) teams met on Wednesday, June 9, and the session was devoted to the BOT team’s counter-proposal on Article 19 (Conflict of Interest/Outside Activity), which centered on two issues: outside activity reports and the types of relationships with students that constitute a conflict of interest.

The BOT wants faculty to report all compensated and some uncompensated outside activity and allow the administration to decide whether each activity represents a conflict of interest. They proposed the following definition:

“Outside Activity” shall mean any activity which is compensated, or any uncompensated activity which is related to one’s profession or subject matter expertise such as consulting, an uncompensated teaching or research appointment, or service on an advisory board.

We have asked for a list of examples of reportable activity. For instance, by “advisory board,” they told us that they were thinking of corporate advisory boards. But would their language also include election to an academic society’s board of directors? We understand the need for the university to protect itself and its faculty, but we want to be sure that faculty members are provided a limited and reasonable list of things to report that could be considered conflicts of interest.

The BOT continues their push to ban “sexual, romantic, amorous, and/or dating” relationships with students. The current CBA language already bans sexual relationships where a supervisory or evaluative relationship exists. We are concerned about including vague terms like “romantic” or “amorous.” Even the definition of “dating” can vary. Is going out for coffee with a student a date? Some might think so. Like the BOT, we abhor exploitation. But since nonconsensual sexual relationships and supervisory/evaluative ones are already prohibited and, of course, sexual harassment is also prohibited by our contract and by law, we wonder what exactly is to be gained by the BOT’s proposed change. We are unaware of cases of faculty sexual misbehavior at FSU that the current CBA language permits. Recent cases have been about faculty violating provisions in the contract; enforcement, not new restrictions, is the issue.

The next bargaining session is scheduled for Wednesday, June 23, from 2:00–5:00.

Bargaining sessions are open to faculty, and negotiations in the past have benefited from faculty attendance. There is definitely strength in numbers, and we appreciate having you! If you would like to attend, please respond to this message and we will send you the Zoom link.

Regular updates can be found at our webpage: https://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. https://uff-fsu.org/wp/join/

With best regards,

Michael Buchler

Professor of Music Theory

Vice President and Bargaining Team Member, UFF-FSU

Bargaining Update – May 24, 2021

Dear Colleagues,

The BOT and UFF teams met on Wednesday, May 19, and the Administration presented its counter-proposals on Article 19 (Conflict of Interest/Outside Activity) and Article 24 (Benefits).

The BOT is proposing several changes to Article 19. A key one is changing the reporting requirement from this: “A faculty member who plans or proposes to engage in any outside activity which the faculty member should reasonably conclude may create a conflict of interest, or in any outside compensated professional activity, shall report to the faculty member’s supervisor, in writing, the details of such proposed activity prior to engaging therein” (emphasis added).

To this: “A faculty member who proposes to engage in any outside activity shall report to the faculty member’s supervisor, in writing, the details of such proposed activity prior to engaging.”

Given that the definition of outside activity includes activities, compensated or uncompensated, that aren’t in the AOR, the plain meaning of the new language is that faculty should report their PTA activities, their dog-walking, and the hours they log at the gym so that the University may grant approval or not. The BOT teams said that was not the intent, and it is possible that the teams can arrive at clearer language about what constitutes a reportable activity. What of the BOT’s removal of the “faculty member’s reasonable conclusion” standard for reporting? The BOT team explained that the problem with relying on a faculty member drawing a reasonable conclusion is that there is a natural tendency to see things in a self-serving way, and so it is better to have a neutral party decide whether or not a conflict is present. We believe that when it comes to uncompensated activities outside the AOR, trusting faculty’s judgment is still a fine method for determination.

The BOT changes to the section on sexual relationships with students center on adding a definition of “romantic relationships” and prohibiting these and sexual relationships with undergraduates anywhere in the University, even when no power relations are present.

The BOT proposed this definition of romantic relationships:

“Romantic relationship” is defined as intimate associations primarily characterized by the expectation of affectional involvement to include an exchange of telephone calls, pictures, letters, greeting cards, or any other form of oral or written communication which expresses feelings or thoughts of affection or the desire to engage in a relationship whether emotional or physical.”

This definition precludes behaviors that constitute normal student-faculty interactions, where affection suffuses much of what we do. Indeed, teaching-award winners are noted for their caring and their ability to make students feel like they matter. Phone calls, pictures, and expressions of affection–far from things to ban–constitute the warmth that helps explain why FSU excels in retaining students. The University Counseling Service encourages us to be allies with LGBTQ students and to create safe spaces, which seems to acknowledge that emotions are part of the picture. Our campus would be an icy place indeed if we were to curtail affectional engagement with students.

We understand the difficulty of trying to define romance; indeed, scholars and poets have been trying to do so for thousands years without agreement. This difficulty is one reason it does not belong in the contract.

New language also proposes prohibiting sexual and romantic relationships between faculty and undergraduate students. We understand the impetus to protect our students from sexual harassment and misconduct, and we strongly support the policies forbidding them, including the stipulation in this article that disallows sexual relationships when a supervisory or evaluative component is present. Hence, predatory relationships are already banned. What is to be gained by banning loving relationships that develop between consenting adults at meetings organized around shared concerns–say, the environment–that have nothing to do with the University?

Regarding our “tapered employment” proposal in the Benefits article, the BOT’s counter provides no improvements to the existing policy that already allows faculty, with approval, to reduce their FTE and retain full health-insurance benefits as long as they don’t go below 75% of their FTE. The BOT is also unwilling to put the Tuition Scholarship for Spouses and Dependents in the CBA, preferring to keep it as a Memorandum of Understanding, partly because a new president will be coming in. To us, the presidential turnover is an argument in favor of solidifying a faculty benefit rather than an argument for delaying.

The next bargaining session is scheduled for Wed., May 26, 2:00-5:00.

Bargaining sessions are open to faculty, and negotiations in the past have benefited from faculty attendance. There is definitely strength in numbers, and we appreciate having you! If you would like to attend, please respond to this message and we will send you the Zoom link.

Regular updates can be found at our webpage: https://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. https://uff-fsu.org/wp/join/

All best,

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

FEBRUARY 2021 CONSULTATION MINUTES

The minutes of our February 2021 consultation can be found at the link below.

We hold four of these a year with upper-level Administration.  Two include President Thrasher.

Consultations are intended to provide a relaxed forum to discuss issues of interest to faculty.   All are encouraged to contact UFF if you have something you feel needs to be discussed.

DECEMBER 2020 CONSULTATION MINUTES

The minutes of our December 2020 consultation can be found at the link below.

We hold four of these a year with upper-level Administration.  Two include President Thrasher.

Consultations are intended to provide a relaxed forum to discuss issues of interest to faculty.   All are encouraged to contact UFF if you have something you feel needs to be discussed.