COVID Impact Bargaining Update
The BOT and UFF have come to agreement on a new Covid-19 Memorandum of Understanding to cover the period ending August 6, 2021. The particulars are similar to those in the agreement that covered Spring 2021. Thus, faculty still may request remote assignments, course content and course delivery materials will still be treated like any other faculty-created materials, SPCI will be administered, and the impact of the pandemic on research will be considered in evaluations through 2023.
Some differences also appear. While the default for service assignments is still that they may be conducted remotely, the Dean can specify they be conducted in person. And while Assistant Professors employed in Spring 2020 are automatically granted a tenure-clock extension, those hired later must request an extension. In those cases, the MOU specifies that the pandemic constitutes a “personal qualifying circumstance” that applies to the provision in 15.2(f)4: “Extension of Tenure-Earning Period for Personal Circumstances. . . . A faculty member may request an extension of one year from the chair with the approval of the president and dean or representative due to qualifying personal circumstances, before being considered for tenure.”
We are engaging in regular bargaining Wednesday this week from 2:00 to 5:00, and we would be pleased to have you join us. Just respond to this note and we’ll send you the Zoom link.
As always, our strength in bargaining depends on our numbers. If you are a member, thank you; it you are not, please join! You can find the form here.
Irene Padavic and Scott Hannahs
Co-Chief Negotiators, UFF-FSU
On Wednesday, the BOT and the UFF teams met, and the UFF took the occasion to remind the BOT that our 2019 negotiations called for making last year’s $1,500 bonus a permanent base pay increase if certain budget conditions were met, which they were. We were pleased the next day to see President Thrasher’s email announcing the raise, and are proud of having negotiated the language that made the raise a reality.
During the session, we reviewed the BOT’s proposed revisions to the Covid-19 Memorandum of Understandingand are unhappy to report that negotiations are going backwards. Language both teams had agreed to in the spring MOU and had remained intact in BOT’s early August proposal is gone, replaced with language that removes faculty autonomy. Here’s an example:
BOT’s earlier language: “During the emergency period, faculty members shall be permitted to work remotely, provided that the assigned duties are able to be accomplished remotely.”
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We have two bits of news to report from this week’s bargaining. The main topic was the BOT’s counterproposal on Article 13, Layoffs. The teams also agreed to sign a Memorandum of Agreement guaranteeing that Promotion increases and Sustained Performance Increases will go through in early August, regardless of the status of on-going negotiations.
Guaranteed Promotion and SPI raises are great news that will allow many faculty to heave sighs of relief. Unfortunately, the BOT proposal on the Layoffs and Recall article will not have the same effect.
You can find that proposal here. While this document does not show changes from the UFF’s most recent proposal because the BOT did not use traditional legislative markup style (track changes), we will provide that version upon request. It’s clear that the BOT responded to none of our proposals but instead rewrote the article from scratch to include only their desired terms. Below we summarize three key differences between the BOT proposal and the language that has been in place for years.
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The FSU Board of Trustees (BOT) team and the UFF-FSU team, along with 21 faculty visitors, met on Wednesday for a discussion of Layoff and Recall, Tapered Employment, and the Tuition Scholarship for Dependents/Spouses.
Before the meeting, the BOT team let us know they were pulling their last Layoffs proposal to work on it more, so the UFF took that opportunity to submit a newer version of ours for them to respond to. We are trying to hasten bargaining, as we know faculty are worried about layoffs and would like to see a resolution. Our new Layoff proposal offers a definition of “Layoff unit” similar to the existing contract language, and the teams engaged in a thoughtful discussion of “areas” and “programs” and will work together to clarify this crucial language.
The BOT put the kibosh on the UFF’s Tapered Employment proposal that had sought to enhance the financial position of faculty over 60 working less than full-time. They stood by their counter proposal, which offers no advantages over what is already available.
We have good news to report! The BOT countered a UFF Benefits proposal with a Memorandum of Understanding about the Tuition Scholarship for Dependents/Spouses. This counter accepted our proposal to allow the scholarship to extend to spouses (before it had only been children) and to include graduate credit hours (before it had been only undergraduate). This is an important family-friendly benefit, and we are eager to sign (with small alterations). We’re withholding flat-out enthusiasm, however, just in case the BOT seeks to link implementation to unpalatable changes in other articles on the table.
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The FSU Board of Trustees (BOT) team and the UFF-FSU team, along with 20 faculty visitors, met on Wednesday for a discussion that centered on the BOT’s response to our counterproposal on Layoff and Recall. Because of multiple markups from two teams, it is a bit hard to read, but the yellow highlights identify what the BOT team has newly added.
The BOT introduced their proposal by reiterating their stance that they did not open the Layoff article because they intended to act on it. We want to believe.
The good news is that the BOT accepted some elements of the UFF’s counterproposal, namely restoring original language that stipulated two years as the recall period and as the period during which a faculty member is eligible for retraining and also restoring original language about notifying the UFF when a layoff involves an Affirmative Action Program.
The bad news is the rest of their proposal.
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