Bargaining Update, April 10, 2024

Dear FSU Colleagues,

On April 10, the UFF-FSU and FSU-BOT teams met and exchanged counter-offers on Article 21 (Other Faculty Rights) and Article 22 (Sabbatical and Professional Development Leave). We have appreciated your attendance at our bargaining sessions as well as your participation in our poll and responses to our bargaining updates. Such participation, we believe, gives us not only more bargaining power, but also a better sense of what you want!

In sum, the teams are working to update the language on building environmental safety, but while Article 21 (Other Faculty Rights) was open, the UFF-FSU team also proposed new standards to protect faculty, students, and staff in the event of a live shooter. In the case of Article 22 (Sabbatical and Professional Development Leave), the UFF-FSU team wanted an allowance for non-instructional faculty to split up their leave rather than take it all at once. The BOT team agreed to that, but added more years between the leaves to make PDL consistent with sabbaticals, and the UFF team then proposed lessening the number of years between sabbaticals as well as Professional Development Leaves. We have not yet received a response to our “Salaries” proposal from last week, and we are still working on our proposal to the “Grievances and Arbitration” article.

For more specifics, let’s begin with the UFF’s proposal on Article 21 (Other Faculty Rights).

UFF proposed additional language to clarify the BOT’s changes to 21.3 (Safe Conditions), which refers to the safety of campus buildings. These changes include:

  1. Replace “remediation taken if reading falls above the EPA Action Levels” with “action taken if levels are above EPA Radon Action Levels.”
  2. A new follow-up process for the building where the radon mitigation system has installed.
  3. Actions if issues with mold are found after inspection.

We also proposed that the university take specific safety measures and precautions against an armed aggressor, including safety buttons to inform police, devices to lock the office or classroom door, and emergency training.

The BOT team responded to our Article 22 proposal (Sabbatical and Professional Development Leave):

  1. The BOT team accepted our provision for Professional Development Leave (PDL) 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.
  2. The BOT team changed the minimum years of service to be eligible for PDL from three (3) to six (6). The BOT rationale was to make it consistent with sabbatical eligibility.
  3. The BOT team also accepted deferral of the PDL to the next year or other time, mutually agreed by both the faculty member and university, if staffing consideration prevents the faculty from leaving the campus.

However, the BOT team didn’t agree to the proposal by the UFF that would allow faculty who receive full year, half pay leave to earn salaries from the university or other sources during sabbatical or PDL.

In response to the BOT team’s counter-offer on Article 22, the UFF team crafted a response.

  1. The UFF team changed the minimum years of service to be eligible for PDL from the BOT proposed six (6) to five (5). To keep it consistent with the sabbatical eligibility years, the UFF also changed the sabbatical eligibility to be five (5) years.
  2. The UFF accepted the deferral language set forth by the BOT team.
  3. The UFF team rewrote the clause about earning salaries from the university or other sources during sabbatical or PDL. More specifically, the new proposal restricts this proposal to “when a faculty member’s duties include functions that are necessary to the operation of the University”.

We are awaiting responses to our proposals.

The next bargaining session will be on Wednesday, April 24, from 3:30-5:00 pm at Westcott Room 201.

We greatly appreciate those of you who attended bargaining via Zoom. The BOT team notices when faculty attend sessions, so if you can, please plan to attend in person, or you can attend online. We will send the Zoom link before the next bargaining session.

The key to a strong Collective Bargaining Agreement is you! If you are not a member, please join. If you have questions about membership, please contact [email protected]

All the best,

Arash Fahim, Associate Professor, Department of Mathematics

On behalf of

Scott Hannahs, Research Faculty III, National High Magnetic Field Lab

Jennifer Proffitt, Professor, Communication

Co-Chief Negotiators, UFF-FSU

Bargaining Update, April 3, 2024

Dear FSU Colleagues,

This is the first bargaining update for the year, and a lot happened during the first meeting, so this update may be a bit longer than usual. We thank all of you who have come out to support us during bargaining sessions, whether in person or on Zoom. Your presence puts pressure on the administration and helps our cause. The union’s strength is partly in its numbers, and we appreciate your support!

On April 3, the UFF-FSU and FSU-BOT teams met, and we began by discussing ground rules for bargaining this year and identifying the two articles each side would open in addition to Article 23 (Salaries). The BOT team opened Article 10 (Performance Evaluations), and Article 21 (Other Faculty Rights). The UFF team opened Article 20 (Grievance Procedure and Arbitration) and Article 22 (Sabbatical and Professional Development Leave). Let’s begin with the BOT’s proposals.

For Article 10 (Performance Evaluations), the BOT added the Post-Tenure Review (PTR) process that had been approved by the BOT in June 2023. If you recall, President Lata’s 3/23/24 email explained that UFF filed an unfair labor practice charge against the BOT for implementing a PTR process without bargaining it first. The hearing in front of the Public Employees Relations Commission was held in December, and the hearing officer’s recommendation was released 3/14/24 stating that the University did in fact commit an unfair labor practice with its implementation of a PTR regulation that had not been bargained and said FSU should cease and desist the PTR process until it is bargained. Each side had until today, April 5, to file exceptions, and the next step is a decision by the full commission.

Assuming PERC follows the hearing officer’s recommendation, the BOT’s PTR regulation must be bargained before it—or any version of it—can be integrated into our contract. The BOT proposal, as currently written, violates several other articles in the CBA, including Article 15 (Tenure) and Article 5 (Academic Freedom and Responsibility) that have not been re-opened this year. Thus, we struck all the PTR language the BOT team added to the Performance Evaluation article in our counter proposal.

Strangely, the BOT’s PTR proposal also reverted to their June 2023 language, which is largely based on the regulation adopted by the Board of Governors (BOG) despite the fact that the BOG is not party to our negotiations and cannot dictate terms in our CBA. By regressing to the BOT’s/BOG’s original regulations, the BOT team negated all of the beneficial changes both teams had already negotiated in the last seven months. Some of these reversions to earlier language were quite egregious in our eyes, like comparing faculty performance to an “average,” which we thought both sides had agreed was an impossible designation that would lead to arbitrary rankings.

Further, and perhaps most importantly, we added our own PTR proposal to Article 23 (Salaries) that would follow the same procedures as the Sustained Performance Increases (SPI), but the increases would be every 5 years instead of 7 years and would include the top two ranks for both general faculty (PTR) and specialized faculty (SPI). The SPI process includes annual evaluations based on AORs to determine whether the faculty member has been productive. We had been told by numerous administrators that the PTR process wouldn’t be different from what we are already doing—our proposal codifies this sentiment and retains all of the components of PTR that the legislature had passed in SB 266. In short, our proposal follows the letter of the law; the BOT are apparently seeking a PTR that is far more elaborate and consequential, including what we think of as a reduction of the rights of tenure to make it revokable and adding a “double jeopardy” provision that could reopen an already completed disciplinary procedure.

The BOT’s Article 10 proposal also clarifies and makes consistent procedures for Performance Improvement Plans (PIP) for both general and specialized faculty who receive annual evaluation ratings of “Does Not Meet FSU’s High Expectations.”

The BOT’s proposal for Article 21 (Other Faculty Rights) makes changes to 21.3 (Safe Conditions), which refers to the safety of campus buildings. We are working on a counter proposal that will ensure that testing will be conducted as recommended by the EPA and other experts.

The UFF team, as noted previously, made the first offer regarding salaries. We have proposed the following:

1.      Promotion increases have been left at the level they have been for the last 10 years or so.  Promotion to Associate Professor, or second rank at 12%, and promotion to Professor or top rank at 15%.

2.      Sustained performance increases have been changed from a 7-year cycle to a 5-year cycle to accommodate changes requested by the legislature for post-tenure review.  The first cycle shall include those who are in their 6th and 7th year of the cycle to accommodate this change and includes all general and specialized faculty members in the top two ranks.

3.      Merit increases retain the same eligibility requirements that are in the current contract:

a.       Performance Increases are tied to the Consumer Price index increase from February 2023 to February 2024, which is currently estimated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics as 3.2%.  This increase shall be effective on the start of the fiscal year for 12-month faculty and at the start of the semester for 9-month faculty.

b.      Departmental merit for the next fiscal year is set at 4% with the same eligibility and criteria as in the current contract to reward FSU’s excellent faculty.

c.       Deans’ merit is removed because the criteria for most deans are unstated, unclear, and arbitrary. Our spring 2024 poll shows that faculty prefer Department merit—which has clear criteria determined by faculty by departments/units—6 to 1 over Deans’ merit.

4.      Market Equity amount is a total of $2.5 million divided as $2 million for tenure track faculty and $500,000 for specialized faculty in the 4:1 ratio that we have used in the past.  The total market equity deficit is approximately $18 million, so even this amount is way too small to eliminate our issues with compression and inversion in a reasonable time.  A slight increase from last year may help us get closer to having our faculty pay scale match the national average.

5.      The cap on Administrative Discretionary Increases is set to 1%, which is considerably more than they have expended so far this year. ADIs and Deans’ merit are both discretionary, so the 1% cap seems more than adequate.

6.      We also proposed that no full-time faculty member be paid less than $40,000. This category includes faculty members on a twelve-month contract, and we think it preposterous that some faculty members are currently paid less than this floor.

In our Article 22 (Sabbatical and Professional Development Leave) proposal, we added a provision for Professional Development Leave that allows non-instructional faculty to take their 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. We also clarified policies for Professional Development Leave that would be consistent with Sabbaticals in terms of postponement of leave, and notes that faculty awarded less than full-time Sabbatical or Professional Development Leave are permitted to receive additional salary from the University or other sources to make up the residual portion.  We are also asking for a report each year that includes the number of sabbatical and professional development leave applications, the number of leaves granted, and the number of leaves postponed.

We are awaiting responses to our proposals.

The next bargaining session is scheduled for Wednesday, April 10 from 2-5 in the Training Center (across from the stadium, accessible from southbound Stadium Dr. and from Jackson Bluff).  The BOT team notices when faculty attend sessions, so if you can, please plan to attend in person, or you can attend online. We will send the Zoom link before the April 10 meeting.

The key to a strong Collective Bargaining Agreement is you! If you are not a member, please join. If you have questions about membership, please contact [email protected]

All the best,

Scott Hannahs, Research Faculty III, National High Magnetic Field Lab

Jennifer Proffitt, Professor, Communication

Co-Chief Negotiators, UFF-FSU

Bargaining update 1/10/24

Dear Colleagues,

We need to hear from you!

As you know, we have been in the process of bargaining with the administration over post-tenure review. The administration is implementing a policy that will end tenure as we know it at FSU. Though President McCullough told us in his “State of the University” address on 29 November that, “we’ve worked really hard… at trying to make sure that post-tenure review looks very similar to our 7-year reviews” and that very little will actually change, we see it differently. As the administration is insisting on including termination in the policy, post-tenure review will mean the end of tenure. In fact, the administration’s proposal is giving chairs, deans, and the provost arbitrary authority to decide over whether you can keep your tenure. We need you to respond and tell us what you think (if you’ve got a comment or suggestion, our emails can be found at the end of this message).

The most essential thing you can do is join us. The UFF is alone in defending tenure and the protections it brings with it — most importantly, academic freedom — in the face of enormous political attacks. While the UFF is involved in multiple litigations to protect your rights, the administration does not have your backs. If the union is decertified, tenure most likely will disappear with it.

We are currently within spitting distance of achieving the 60% membership that we need to stay certified. If you join today, you may be the hero who pushes us over the line.

Major disagreements still exist:

The BOT team refuses to accept language that promises any boost to base salary. This is alarming. They have agreed to a “monetary” award, but, under their proposal, that could be a small one-time bonus, and whether the award is a bonus or a boost to base salary could fluctuate from year to year. Though the president said that post-tenure review would be “a reward system for our faculty who are doing a great job,” if they get their way on this you might only get the raise you deserve if you happen to be reviewed in a year when the administration decides magnanimously to allot money for post-tenure raises, regardless of how successful you have been.

The BOT did not accept the language in our proposal that asserts:

·      The dean or Provost shall not assign the faculty member a rating that is inconsistent with the last five years of annual evaluations.

This surprised us. Throughout the process, the BOT team has been assuring us that there would be no surprises. But their resistance to this language suggests that the administration wants more flexibility in order to overturn past annual evaluations conducted by faculty evaluation committees and chairs and possibly terminate you.

The other disagreements that we’ve been having since the start persist: they insist that post-tenure review could lead to termination for not following “applicable regulations and laws” even though we know how confusing, vague, incoherent, and at times contradictory recent legislation on higher education has been, and most of us are not qualified to interpret these laws, particularly on-the-fly in the classroom.

They also insist that discipline should be folded into post-tenure review when investigatory findings have been substantiated, meaning that you could find yourself having to face further consequences for a disciplinary case that has been closed.

They are demanding that SPCI teaching evaluations be included, even though the contract language says that SPCIs alone are not sufficient to evaluate teaching. They tried to justify this by claiming that we have a one-page summary of accomplishments where we can justify anything that looks like a problem in the SPCIs. Those of you who have already prepared and submitted your post-tenure review: had you even considered that you were supposed to include explanations of your teaching evaluations in your list of accomplishments? We certainly hadn’t, and we don’t know of any departments that advised faculty to write about SPCI ratings in their one-page summary. 

Most mind-boggingly, the BOT team is insisting that the 5-year post-tenure review should encompass six years, some of them pre-tenure. On the one hand, they tell us they need to abide by what the BOG regulation tells them, but expanding the window of assessment willy-nilly goes far afield even of the BOG’s overreach.

We believe that post-tenure review is redundant: we are reviewed every year for our accomplishments, and the administration already has plenty of tools for disciplining wrongdoing. All that post-tenure review will do is to allow the administration a second chance to go after you in an evaluation procedure that might not have anything to do with the annual review process, its outcomes, or your accomplishments.

We believe that the materials and process should be as clear as possible to the faculty member and the outcome should not differ from the last five years of annual evaluations. The BOT team’s reason for not accepting our offer is that the Board of Governors regulations do not allow them to. We continue to maintain that the BOG is not party to this negotiation and cannot dictate contract provisions by fiat. That position is being tested in a current case before the Public Employees Relation Commission (PERC).

The next round of negotiations is not scheduled yet, but we are already preparing our next proposal. We would really like some advice from you about how to proceed. Please feel free to respond to this message, and we encourage you to attend bargaining sessions if you can.

In the meantime, if you are not already a UFF member in good standing (paying dues via eDues or by 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 by January 26, we simply won’t have a contract to defend. Please join now. It only takes a minute. Here’s the link:  

Robin Goodman ([email protected]), UFF-FSU Bargaining Team Member, on behalf of 

Scott Hannahs, Specialized Faculty ([email protected]), and Jennifer Proffitt, Professor ([email protected]), Bargaining Team Co-Chairs 

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:  

Arash Fahim, UFF-FSU Bargaining Team Member, on behalf of 

Scott Hannahs, Specialized Faculty, and Jennifer Proffitt, Professor, Bargaining Team Co-Chairs 

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