Bargaining Update – May 11, 2022

The bargaining teams met last Wednesday to entertain two counter-proposals from the BOT and one proposal and one counter-proposal from the UFF. 

The big news is that we reached a Tentative Agreement on Article 21 (Other Faculty Rights). This is a big win for faculty, as it puts in place procedures to establish baselines for building safety.  The language guarantees regular inspections, regular filter replacement, radon inspections (and remediation, if needed), and mold inspections (and remediation, if needed).  We also agreed to language on another faculty right:  faculty who receive a letter of counsel may now attach a response. We have every hope that our tentative agreements will become part of our next CBA, but wanted to point out that they are, in fact, tentative. 

The UFF responded to the BOT proposal on Article 10 (Performance Evaluations), where we generally agreed with the BOT’s suggested changes, which were mostly about clearing up outdated language.  We also proposed language that clarifies which evaluation documents are to be included in promotion folders, such that instead of “history of annual evaluation” we spell out “summary forms, narratives, optional responses, and letters of progress towards promotion.”   

The two teams have significant disagreements about the BOT’s counter-proposal for Article 18 (Inventions and Works).  The first problem is defining “appreciable University support.” In a prior proposal, the BOT had added “salary for research assignment” as constituting such support, which we found unacceptable because it means that an invention worked on during weekends and evenings with no University support would be owned by the University. It was also completely new language, and a big grab.  Thus, our prior counterproposal had explicitly named “salaries” as an example of what is not appreciable University support.  Advance to Wednesday’s session, and we see the University struck our “salaries” exclusion, which means that salaries could or could not be considered appreciable support.  When questioned, the BOT team was clear that since some faculty are paid a salary to conduct research, the University would have an interest in that research, an interest it could choose to pursue or not, at its discretion.  We countered with a sentence that explicitly precludes this possibility: “Salary, unless paid specifically to support the development of a work or invention, shall not be considered appreciable University support for purposes of this Article.”   

The other point of contention in the BOT proposal is the BOT’s continued insistence on including language specifying that inventions falling within the faculty member’s “institutional expertise” are a University-supported effort, and thus any proceeds from them must be shared with the University.  Yet again, our counter strikes the “institutional expertise” stipulation as being unduly restrictive and hard to define. 

The day’s final article was the UFF’s proposal on Article 22 (Sabbatical and Professional Development Leave), where we proposed a non-competitive sabbatical-accrual system similar to the one the California University system has used for years, in which faculty’s qualifying service earns them a certain amount of pay for a semester or year, to be used at their discretion (see table in the linked article).  We also added a provision for Professional Development Leave that allows non-instructional faculty to take the leave in smaller increments over the course of two years, since many librarians and research faculty find it difficult to take a full semester away from their duties and thus don’t apply.   

At the conclusion of the session, the BOT team informed us that they would not consider our proposal of last week on Article 19 (Conflict of Interest) regarding reportable and non-reportable activity until it was part of a complete proposal that also addresses their language forbidding consensual romantic and sexual relationships between faculty and undergraduate students.   

The next bargaining session is scheduled for Wed., May18, from 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). 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. (Alternatively, if you retained a previous bargaining Zoom link, it will still work.) 

Regular bargaining 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 Update–May 4, 2022

Dear Colleagues,

The bargaining teams met Wednesday to discuss one new proposal and one counter proposal from the BOT and two UFF counter proposals.  

We first discussed the BOT’s new proposal regarding Article 10 (Performance Evaluations). On first viewing, our team did not see any major changes but rather small clarifications, such as distinguishing between Tenure Review Reports and annual reviews before tenure. However, we plan to look at the language carefully to make sure we are not missing anything before we counter.

We then turned to UFF’s counter proposal on Article 18 (Inventions and Works). UFF proposed clarifying language regarding the definition of “Appreciable University support” to not include negligible use of basic resources (such as email or an office phone). UFF also removed the term “field of expertise” and similar terms in favor of “institutional expertise” to make clear that University ownership claims would be limited to areas in which the faculty member is employed. After reviewing the contracts of other state university system collective bargaining agreements, UFF proposed retaining the status quo language regarding the division of proceeds between the University and the inventor so that it would remain a 60/40 split.

The second UFF counter proposal we discussed was for Article 19 (Conflict of Interest). Because, as noted, “field of expertise” is difficult to determine, UFF proposed instead a definition of “institutional expertise” to mean more specifically “a faculty member’s specialization in teaching, research, clinical, or creative activity at the University.” UFF also replaced the worrisome language regarding the definition of “Conflict of Interest” with language based in statute defining conflict of interest as “a situation in which regard for a private interest leads to disregard of a public duty or interest,” and UFF added unequivocal language stating that such conflict of interest shall not “abridge faculty members’ rights to academic freedom and freedom of expression guaranteed in Article 5.” UFF also proposed revisions to reportable and non-reportable activity in the new Appendix K. UFF deferred its counter proposal to the BOT’s proposed language regarding consensual sexual relationships with students until a later date.

We were pleased to see that the BOT’s counter proposal for Article 21 (Other Faculty Rights) largely accepted UFF’s new proposal that campus buildings be regularly inspected to ensure the safety of students, faculty, and staff. This includes replacing filters for air handling units according to manufacturers’ guidelines, regular radon testing, and inspections for mold and other biological hazards every four years. The BOT also agreed to notify faculty if remediation is needed for radon, mold, and other biological hazards in their buildings. Where the teams differed was in the details regarding the types of filters that will be used, which UFF clarified in its counter proposal. We think that the teams are very close to an agreement, and we are happy and relieved that the BOT agreed to address our proposal and concerns regarding campus building safety.

The next bargaining session is scheduled for Wed., May 11, from 2:30-5:00.  Please note the later-than-usual start 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 bargaining 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,

Jennifer Proffitt, Vice President and Bargaining Team member, UFF-FSU

Bargaining Update – April 27, 2022

Dear Colleagues,  

The bargaining teams met last Wednesday to entertain two counter-proposals from the BOT and to hear the UFF response to last week’s verbal offer, along with the presentation of another new proposal.   

We first turned to the BOT’s counter-proposal on Article 18 (Inventions and Works). The BOT accepted several of the changes from our last proposal (including removing salary from the definition of “appreciable University support) but retained language specifying that inventions falling within the faculty member’s “field of expertise” are a University-supported effort and thus any proceeds from them must be shared with the University. We had earlier proposed striking the “field of expertise” stipulation as being unduly restrictive and hard to define. The BOT proposal also rejected the UFF-proposed 50/50 division of proceeds in favor of retaining the existing 60/40 split (60% for the University and 40% for the inventor).  

The second BOT counter proposal we discussed was for Article 19 (Conflict of Interest), and the teams were joined by Robyn Blank, FSU’s Chief Compliance Officer.  The proposal sought to define “field of expertise” (which also figures prominently in Article 18) by identifying it as the basis of the faculty member’s employment, which “generally means as a grouping of courses or research areas that share common or vocational preparation which are typically defined by a degree or degrees.” This isn’t terribly clear to us, but we’ll work it out as negotiations continue. We are a bit worried about existing contract language that we removed and the BOT re-inserted that defines it as a conflict of interest when the private interests of the faculty member conflict with the public interests of the University, as it is unclear what is meant by the University’s public interest.  The BOT team said that Article 5 (Academic Freedom) offers protection for free speech, which is the UFF worry, and our counter-proposal may include references to that protection.  We also spent quite a bit of time discussing Appendix K, which itemizes reportable and non-reportable activity.  There are points of disagreement remaining, and we look forward to working through them. 

Article 19 is also where language appears about consensual sexual relationships with students, and the BOT’s new language allows such relationships with graduate students, as long as they are in a different department and no supervisory or evaluative relationship exists, but blanketly prohibits them with undergraduates, even when they are in a different department and there is no supervisory or evaluative component. It seems that our arguments about how impossible it is to define a “romantic relationship” fell on deaf ears:  their language continues to include romantic relationships. They accepted our language that creates a carve-out for pre-existing relationships and allows the Provost to create exemptions on a case-by-case basis.   

It was the UFF’s turn next, and we began by saying that while we were very pleased that the BOT was willing to drop the idea of reducing the 4-year contracts for some Specialized Faculty (Article 8), we were not yet ready to trade it for the article they would like us to drop (Article 12).  It’s too soon to strike a deal, as we still need to hear back on the many proposals we have outstanding. 

The UFF presented an initial proposal on Article 22 Sabbatical and Professional Development Leave.  Although the basic thrust of the proposal was clear—to move toward a University of California-style plan where faculty earn credits toward non-competitive leaves over time—discussion revealed some inconsistencies that the UFF team needs to resolve. 

The session concluded with UFF presenting a proposal on Article 24 (Benefits) that ensconces the Scholarship Program for Dependents and Spouses into the CBA.  It has been agreed to as a pilot program in an MOU for four years now, and it seems high time to make it permanent.  Our proposal does that and also removes the cap on funds allocated to the program.   

The next bargaining session is scheduled for Wed., May 4, from 1:00-4:00.  Please note the earlier-than-usual start time (to accommodate a UFF request).  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. (Alternatively, if you retained a previous bargaining Zoom link, it will still work.) 

Regular bargaining 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 Update – April 13, 2022

Dear Colleagues,  

The bargaining teams met last Wednesday to entertain two counter-proposals and one new proposal from the UFF team and a verbal proposal for a trade-off on two articles from the BOT team.  

The UFF began with a counter-proposal for Article 18 (Inventions and Works). This version removes salary as an element of the definition of “appreciable University support,” which is something the BOT team is seeking to insert. Salaries represent payment for work performed and shouldn’t be a consideration in determining whether the University owns a work or invention.  If it were, then what’s the incentive for bothering to apply for a patent or copyright?  This version made a concession by giving the University more time to inform the faculty member that it is seeking an interest in the work or to assert its interest in an invention. It also strikes language that defines an “independent effort” (in the case of inventions) as needing to be outside the faculty member’s field of expertise.  Finally, it changes the division of proceeds for  inventions owned by the University, such that the faculty member splits the proceeds 50/50 with the University, up from 40/60 in favor of the University. 

Then the UFF turned to its counter-proposal on Article 19 (Conflict of Interest).  The proposal added “reportable outside activity” as a defined category and made changes to the related Appendix the BOT had presented the previous week that itemizes reportable and non-reportable activity.  Our proposal also added the word “reportable” before most usages of “outside activity” to increase clarity. The topic turned to consensual sexual relationships with students, and the UFF offered a counter-proposal that categorizes as a conflict of interest sexual relationships that occur when the faculty member and student are in the same department or when a faculty member has supervisory or evaluative authority over a student in a different department.  It also allows the Provost to create an exemption and creates a carve-out for pre-existing relationships.  The teams engaged in a vigorous back-and-forth about why the UFF is adamant about not forbidding “romantic relationships.” The arguments were not new:  the UFF pointed out that defining romance is a fools’ errand and that the BOT’s attempts have fallen short, and moreover, what one party considers indicative of romance—and hence worthy of discipline—the other party may not.  The BOT pointed out that it wants to get ahead of any situation before it becomes a problem, and thus declaring romance off limits will reduce the chances of a relationship becoming harassment. The UFF team said that it, too, wants to reduce or eliminate harassment but that the BOT team is conflating consensual relationships—the ones covered in this Article—with ones that are not—and which are already covered in Article 6.   

The UFF next presented a proposal for Article 21 (Other Faculty Rights) that calls for the regular inspection of campus buildings, the installation and replacement as needed of high-efficiency filters, radon inspections and remediation, and mold/biological hazard inspections and remediation.  It also includes a sentence that permits a faculty member who is given a letter of counsel an opportunity to attach a response. 

The BOT team then offered a verbal proposal that the UFF team drop its proposal on Article 12 (Non-reappointment), where the UFF was seeking clearer language and a modified version of just-cause for non-renewal, in exchange for the BOT dropping its proposal on Article 8 (Appointments), where it was seeking to reduce the 4-year contracts for Specialized Faculty in the top rank. The UFF team will consider the deal.  

The next bargaining session is scheduled for this Wed., April 20, from 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). 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 

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