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United Faculty of Florida, Fall 2004

August 28, 2004

Visiting the Board of Trustees

On January 7, 2003, the old contract expired without replacement: in direct defiance of the law, the Board and the Administration had adamently refused to even discuss a successor contract until March 7 -- two months after the contract expired. For nineteen and a half months, we have been without a contract. Publicly, the Board says that it wants a contract, and publicly, the President says that she has no intention of using the reorganization to strike at the union or faculty; but in bargaining, the Administration has treated our bargaining team to a conjuring show, with new proposals coming and morphing and going like creatures in Wonderland. They started by proposing to limit severely our ability to file grievances that go to binding arbitration. When the union made a public issue of it, they decided it wasnít really what they wanted to do. When we got to bargaining salaries, the Administration publicized a misleading description of one of their novel proposals as part of a maneuver that tied up bargaining for weeks. Meanwhile, the union team has pushed for a new contract similar to the old, since the old contract was already fairly well understood -- and because if reorganization isn't supposed to hurt faculty or the union, then why should it entail radical changes to the contract?

And now we are going into our fourth semester without a contract. It takes less time to negotiate a peace treaty. It is time to go directly to the Board. The Administration and its bargaining team are the Board's agents, and the Board is ultimately responsible for the the policies and actions of the Administration and its bargaining team. It is time that the Board hears first hand our insistence on a fair contract. Now. No excuses.

The Board meets on Thursday, 11 am, for what is billed as a four hour meeting (the agenda is posted at their website), but meetings usually don't last that long. The meeting is in the Marshall Center ballroom (on the second floor). We ask everyone in the bargaining unit, everyone whose contract is being negotiated by the union's bargaining team (who are all fellow faculty, uncompensated volunteers working on their own time!) to come to the meeting to show our support for our bargaining team, and our impatience with the Board.

We recommend that you come by 10:45 to make sure you get seats (there is usually a good audience there, mostly administrators sitting quietly in the august presence of the Board). There will be union members handing out stickers at the door, so you can identify yourself quietly as faculty. You can bring non-obtrusive work into the room (books, notebooks, laptops --- the ballroom has wireless capacity). We expect to be given a few minutes so President Weatherford can explain our position to the Board.

Of course, we will be polite, but even so, it is an unusual step for an unusual situation. We hope that this will inspire the Board to remember that its responsibility to the university is more important that than its fantasies of bringing faculty under centralized control. We the faculty, not it the Board, are the university, and it appears that the Board needs to be reminded of this.

September 2, 2004

At the Board Meeting

591 days after the old BOR-UFF contract expired, the Board of Trustees met to hear many reports, to evaluate President Genshaft's performance, to review many budgetary items, to look at criteria from the long range plan and the state, and to greet two new board members.

The union chapter had called on faculty to come to the meeting to show their support for the union's determination to get a contract: seventeen months after President Genshaft recognized UFF and agreed to bargain a contract, there still is no contract. Fifty or more faculty showed up and donned NO EXCUSES stickers.

The meeting was scheduled for 11 am to 3 pm, although it rarely lasts that long. Initially, UFF was not listed on the agenda (which was curious as UFF is usually alotted a few minutes), but after a query, UFF was put at the end.

At the beginning, Chairman Dick Beard acknowledged the faculty and expressed confidence that a contract would soon appear. That was just after 11 am. Then after many announcements and minutae came the first major item.

President Genshaft's performance is described . in a 10-page .pdf file: The evaluation was very positive, but mentioned nothing about shared governance or faculty relations.

Although Trustee Rhea Law thanked the faculty for winning grants, most of the Board tended to regard the university's accomplishments as Genshaft's own. Beard said "I give her the highest marks." (The only dissent came from new Student Government President Bijal Chhadva who complained, among other things, about Genshaft's accessibility.)

There was a lunch break about 1 pm. This being the last Thursday before classes, many faculty had to leave.

Then came many budgetary items.

At three o'clock, at the time the meeting was scheduled to end, they reached the presentations.

The new Faculty Senate President, Anthropology Professor Susan Greenbaum, spoke about her two primary goals, faculty governance and salary (salary was part of the long range plan in which embarrassingly insufficient progress was made). She also said that she was interested in undergraduate involvement in faculty research, and in utilizing USF facilities during the summer.

Mr. Chhadva spoke about the grading system (+ and -), the Marshall Center (which had been discussed already), and student finances (tuition, fees, grants, etc.), and finally, the state funding formula that has traditionally allocated USF inordinately low resources.

At 3:20, 260 minutes after the meeting was scheduled to begin, with perhaps a third of the visiting faculty still present, Chapter President Weatherford was asked to speak.

Professor Weatherford began by remarking that requiring visiting faculty to wait four and a half hours (long after most had to leave) did not show much consideration for the faculty's time. He thanked Beard for his hope for a contract soon, but noted that Beard had expressed such hopes already in months past with problematic results. He then contrasted Genshaft's assurance that she did not intend to use the SUS reorganization to harm faculty or the union to the administration's bargaining strategy, noting that the salary initiative presented in mid-summer would have resulted in an effective pay cut for many faculty who normally teach summer school. He concluded by saying that the faculty had intended to make their point by a quiet and polite demonstration of their determination, but that we had learned that day that "sitting quietly and politely doesn't work."

Beard responded by saying (again) that he hopes for an appropriate resolution to bargaining. Later, he told a reporter that UFF spoke last because ... that's where they were on the agenda. For news stories on the meeting, see the stories in:

Bargaining continues on the last five articles, including salary. The rest of the contract has been "tentatively agreed" on by the two chief negotiators, but the contract will not come into force until it is ratified.

The meeting agenda, with supporting reports, is on-line. There is (or was) a video on-line, but unfortunately the page handling it relies on frames, and so the URLs tend to fail: go to the netcast site, in the center of the page it will say "Recent Highlights," go to August 19, 2004 BOT meeting and click there, and the video stream for the meeting is divided into two parts (and clicking on them may produce the video on the left of the window, or an error message at right, in which case just try again). (The gentle webmaster distinctly remembered that USF had vowed to get rid of frames.) Incoming Faculty Senate President Greenbaum's remarks start at approximately 1:42:30 mark of the second file, and Chapter President Weatherford's at about 1:59:20.

UFF has responded by calling on faculty to speak out. Chapter President Roy Weatherford began with a letter on August 30, writing, "I would now like for those folks who saw firsthand what we are up against, and anyone else who is not afraid to speak up, to report your observations and opinions to the faculty...," and offering to post letters anonymously to those who wrote that they were afraid to speak out (indeed, some faculty said that they were afraid to even attend the Board Meeting for fear of retaliation). Letters sent out are posted at our August 26 Board of Trustees page; send letters by responding to this e-mail or sending to our aol account.

From the Land of Spin

On August 26, the University Relations sent an e-mail to facult and staff on "Salary & Employment," regarding relations (or lack thereof) with campus unions --- except for the nurses' union, which has left. The letter leads to links to a University Relations page on-line.

  • The Administration has posted its salary proposal to UFF.

    One preliminary point: the $ 1,000 bonus was mandated by the Legislature, which may or may not be able to make such mandates. In fact, one consequence of Amendment # 11 was that money would be given to the universities in lump sums, and then the universities would figure out how much would go to faculty, staff, grounds, paper, etc. So when the Administration complains that "the Florida Legislature did not allocate any funds to increase the base salaries of USF employees," the reality is that the Florida constitution says that such allocation is now the job of the university's own governance.

    The salary proposal is in flux. The mean raise of 5 % still refers to a pool of funds, allocation to be determined by methods still under negotiation. The page also posted the curious proposal that the method for determining summer salary be made by the individual departments; we leave the likely consequences to the gentle reader's imagination (does the Administration read its own proposals?).

    Human Resources has posted its August 9 proposal --- out of date since the last bargaining session was afterwards --- on-line.

  • The Administration also claims to be very close to tentative agreement with the Police Benevolent Association.
  • In bargaining with Graduate Assistants United, they have not reached salaries yet.
  • Hostile activities towards the staff union are roughly outlined (no surprise: one of Governor Bush's priorities is slamming the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees). The Administration suggests that staff vote against union representation in the current certification election (which is concluding about now).

    The August 26 letter says "A union based in North Florida wants to handle negotiations about salary and other conditions of employment on behalf of USPS employees, rather than allowing USF employees to have the authority to handle these issues themselves. The university prefers working directly with employees on these issues." (Anti-union management has been whining about unions ever since Medieval masters whined about the guilds.) The web-page has a few specifics.

    • The Administration contends that unions prefer to spread raises thin rather than allow management to reward high-performing workers. (In reality, unions try to increase the salary pot for all workers, and then insist that raises be determined by an intelligible system not involving favoritism or tea leaves.)
    • The Administration prefers "direct" communication with staff, rather than involving third parties, and claims that such communication led to two new staff holidays. (In reality, staff need the protection of union involvement in, say, the grievance process, and awards like staff holidays are often generously given during certification fights with unions; such awards are not repeated, and often go away, if the union is defeated.)
This was not the first salvo: an August 13 letter to staff from Human Relations concluded: "... we believe that our policies, procedures and rules protect employee rights, so we encourage you to vote NO."

In general, the Administration does not view the university as a community, with intertwined and interconnected groups functioning as a cultural ecosystem. It is functioning as if it was itself the university incarnate, with the rest of us as transient employees.

September 16, 2004

Congratulations to USF Staff!

USF staff have overwhelmingly voted in favor of union representation.

USF staff were --- and are --- represented by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), the union initially targeted by Governor Jeb Bush in his "reorganization" of the state university system. The USF Board and Administration refused to recognize either AFSCME or the staff contract as of January 7, 2003 (the same date the Board and the Administration cut relations with UFF). But unlike UFF, AFSCME was not voluntarily recognized later, and had to fight through a "recertification election," i.e., a vote by staff to determine whether they would be represented by AFSCME.

The votes are in, and USF staff voted in favor of representation by 696 to 120. Congratulations!! The USF Chapter of AFSCME is celebrating Friday night (September 17) with a Victory Party from 4 pm to 8 pm at CDBs Restaurant on 51st & Fowler. All USF union members, all bargaining unit members, everyone who is union-friendly are invited to attend.

Next, bargaining a contract .......

Congratulations to USF Police!

Bargaining teams for the Police Benevolent Association (PBA) and the USF Administration have just "tentatively agreed" on a contract for USF police officers. The contract will come in force once it is ratified. The details should come out soon (the USF Administration has posted its own announcement).

Chapter Meetings

The official purpose of this biweekly is to announce the USF UFF Chapter's biweekly meetings, which occur on every payday Friday. All union members are invited. (The "chapter" is the USF component of the faculty union, the United Faculty of Florida.) The meetings start at noon, this semester in EDU 316, in the new Education Building.

In fact, these chapter meetings are where the decisions are made. Like many unions, the membership of the Chapter (namely, all faculty union members at USF) are collectively the legislative body at USF. Alas, most members don't show up, despite the free sandwhiches and soda pop and occasional door prizes.

When the Biweekly or the Newsletter announces that, "...the Chapter decided that...," it means that at a Friday meeting, a motion was made, seconded, and passed: the Chapter meetings are a serious business.

Some unions actually have much of the union membership turn up. Of course, these are often unions where everyone has the same work schedule. Nevertheless, the more members who show up, the merrier (and it is important for people from all around campus to be at the Chapter meetings, so people from all over can contribute their own perspectives). There are several perks, besides lunches and the door prizes (usually new novels):

  • The union is a one of the leading interdisciplinary organizations on campus. Members, and meeting participants, range from instructors to distinguished university professors to soft money researchers to hard money teachers. This is a place to make contacts.
  • This is the place where reports and decisions are made. This is where one hears the lurid details of scandals that publications (like this one) merely allude to, if they, ahem, have the space to mention them at all. And this is a place where one can be heard to good effect.
Thanks to Frances, tomorrow will be the first meeting of the semester. Come and join the movement. And bring a friend: we welcome faculty non-members.

Letters from the Faculty

During the past few weeks, we have been broadcasting letters from faculty (broadly defined) about the Aug. 19 Board of Trustees meeting (which was archived ). The letters we broadcast are being posted at our off-campus site.

Two weeks prior to the meeting, this Biweekly had reported a lack of progress on contract negotiations, which has now taken three times as long as the infamously longwinded Congress of Vienna (which finally finished carving up post-Napoleonic Europe in 1815). The problem during the summer was an administration salary proposal of immense complexity, including summer pay cuts. The Biweekly had called on faculty to come to the Aug. 19 meeting to show their support for getting a contract already.

On August 19, the meeting started shortly after 11 am, in the Marshall Center Ballroom. This large room on the east side of the building has two doors, on its west side. The Board was seated on a horse-shoe arrangement of desks, on the south-western side of the room, facing a projector screen up against the southern wall. Seats on the horseshoe were set in advance: Chairman Dick Beard and President Genshaft (and Rhea Law) were at the center of the horseshoe, facing the screen. Other trustees sat at the two sides of the horseshoe. Along the eastern wall were a few rows of seats, whom Beard and Genshaft could see if they turned sharply to their left. Then there were many rows of seats on the northeast, almost directly behind Beard and Genshaft, who rarely turned around.

Speakers making presentations would walk up to the left (east) of the screen, at the end of the east prong of the horseshoe, where there was a podium. The result was that the speaker at the podium, unlike the Board, could see and respond to everyone in the room. It differed from an aristocratic or judicial court in which the presiding officer faces the room and everyone else; it was as if a judge or or a noble sat in court, with his back to everyone else. Those familiar with the use of court ritual to impress an audience can make a good guess of what the effect of this eccentric arrangement would be.

Indeed, several letter writers commented on the effect of the arrangement, with the consensus being that the Board gave a good impression of being out of touch with reality. Of course, the major reasons given were not based on the seating arrangements, but on the content of the meeting: writers commented on the self-congratulation and the lack of serious assessment and analysis.

Incidentally, at the previous Board meeting the gentle webmaster attended, the meeting was in a smaller room, with the entire audience off the left side of the horseshoe, so that audience members could look Chairman Beard and President Genshaft in the face. The effect was a lot less surreal (although the content was, if anything, more surreal, but that's another story).

As mentioned in the last Biweekly, UFF is usually granted a few minutes for a presentation. Initially, UFF was not given any time at the Aug. 19 meeting, but after a query, UFF was given a time slot at the end of the meeting. Most meetings seem to last three hours, but this one lasted four and a half (well, there was a lunch break). Faculty arrived at eleven or so, picked up stickers saying NO EXCUSES, and waited, and waited, and waited, and all this time Chairman Beard was sitting with his back to the majority of the audience. Many faculty had to leave at lunchtime, but a third were still there at 3:15, when UFF Chapter President Roy Weatherford said that in making the faculty wait for over four hours, the Board was communicating its lack of consideration for the faculty's time.

He also said that the Board showed that sitting politely did not impress the Board. A few days later, Weatherford called on faculty to write letters and columns to newspapers and other media outlets about their reactions. (Letters should be about one page long, double-spaced, with name, day and nighttime phone numbers, and addresses. Columns should be about 400 words long. Warning: some newspapers do not respond to columns, not even columns including self-addressed stamped envelopes.) Weatherford also offered the union's own broadcasting capacity, offering to broadcast letters sent either in reply to the Biweekly, or to . Since prior to the meeting some faculty had expressed an interest in attending but also a fear of retaliation, Weatherford said that anyone who feared retaliation could have her/his letter broadcast sans signature. To date, no writer has made this request.

We are continuing to broadcast letters, and we are continuing to receive them. Letters are welcome, for, among other things, we are continuing to negotiate the contract.

September 30, 2004

Bargaining to the Wire

On January 7, 2003, the old Collective Bargaining Agreement (a.k.a., the contract) between the United Faculty of Florida and the Board of Regents expired, on the same day that the new Board of Trustees assumed power. Although the board had been perfectly happy to negotiate a new contract with President Genshaft, it had refused to negotiate one with the faculty.

Nearly 21 months later, bargaining teams for the union and the administration are hopeful that they will soon be presenting a contract for ratification. From the beginning (March 21, 2003, when the Administration agreed to recognize the union), both sides agreed that the new contract would have essentially the same table of contents as the old contract. Chapter President Roy Weatherford had predicted that the Administration would quickly agree to language similar to that of the old contract except for a few sticky items, like discretionary pay raises. This prediction was not entirely correct: the Administration did not move "quickly" and only grudgingly agreed to such similar language and only after wasting time with a lot of eccentric proposals. So now we are down to a handful of sticky items, like discretionary pay raises.

If the teams agree on these issues and present us with a contract, it will look like the old contracts we have had for the last three decades:

  • The contract lasts for three years. Most of the contract will be in place for those three years.
  • The pay part will be renegotiated each year. This is because:
    • The financial situation for future years is unclear. The union team is wary of language like "the Administration promises to distribute 3 % mean merit raises if it feels that it can afford it." It would be wiser for the union and the administration to bargain for real as opposed to hypothetical funds.
    • The economic situation for future years is unclear. Reputable economists have warned of both inflation and deflation ahead, and it would be unwise to lock ourselves into a contract that then bites someone.
    For these two reasons, pay, and (with restrictions) other items the teams feel need updated are revisited annually.
In the bargaining, the union team has been guided by preferences expressed by the chapter (at chapter meetings!), preferences of the executives who follow problems (especially the chapter president --- and the grievance chair, who is most aware of what goes wrong on campus), and the faculty's own preferences (remember that big bargaining survey last year?)

Nevertheless, it ain't over until its over, and it is possible for the teams to fail to agree on a contract to present for ratification. This is called an "impasse." One problem is that no one knows what an impasse will look like. * Previous impasses occurred during the Board of Regents days. Then the disputed articles were tossed to the Legislature, which really didn't want to deal with them: they would just hand faculty an across-the-board raise and tell us to go away. * One naive reading of the law reorganizing the State University System would have the Board of Trustees imposing what they want (for a year) for the disputed language, while the legal dispute is resolved. However, the Board has said during Board meetings that it was involved in bargaining, which seems to give it a conflict of interest. We have just presented the administration with a proposal. The ball is now in their court.

A Day at Bargaining

The gentle webmaster is not a member of the union bargaining team, but bargaining sessions are open to the public, so when one of the team suggested I drop by, I figured, why not?

To set the mood, I should note that this was on September 24, the same day the Oracle's lead headline was Two admissions officers forced out for altering test records: A university audit report revealed that Doug Hartnagel and Dewey Holleman deleted approximately 900 standardized test scores from student records in an attempt to raise USF's median test scores. Both men resigned this week after the university proposed their dismissals.

Now to the two-hour bargaining session.

Whatever the publicity over summer pay -- and grousing over course releases -- the piece de resistance was discretionary pay raises. For months the administration bargaining team has been saying that administrators have to be able to make counter-offers, awards for special achievements, pay damages in lawsuits (!), etc. That sounds very reasonable, said the union team, but before agreeing on anything, we would like to know what in reality (as opposed to theory) these discretionary pay raises and bonuses have been going for. Say for the last few years. The union team got a sequence of incomplete and contradictory responses, and a request for several hundred dollars to pay for compiling a comprehensive report.

This was the meeting when the union team would finally get its desired information ... for 2003. Before the meeting the team was told that the total discretionary raises and bonuses in 2003 (no doubt of varying legality) totaled $ 1,933,942. The administration team would try to find out what the money went for.

The problem, of course, was GEMS, the new, improved software that handles all our salaries. Some Information Technology people spent the first hour of the meeting presenting a description of GEMS, whose compilation processes consist of a huge list of preset commands available only to users with a variety of clearances. There is a separate help system. And it seems that GEMS lacks or doesn't allow ready access to a field where a user could type in a rationale for a raise. Instead,there were a few categories of ACTION REASONS for listing raises.

Then the team could get down to the breakdown of the $ 1,933,942. The biggest was Base Merit, $ 1,060,343.82, which itself breaks down to $ 952,593 for the Presidential Excellence Awards, and $ 102,750 for Special Achievement. The industrious reader is invited to carry out the computation $ 102,750 + $ 952,593 = $ 1,060,343.82. Then there were other categories (market equity, base-other, retention, market adjustment, performance, and lump bonus). Yes, Virginia, base raises (recurring funding) and bonuses (non-recurring funding) were all mixed together.

But it was the smaller items that raised eyebrows. It seems that normal discretionary raises (and bonuses!) are Faculty Out Of Cycle Compensations, which are handed out by the "requesting unit" for "increased responsibilities," "pre-emptive offers," "counter-offers," and "pay for performance." (Why the first and last items cannot be handled by the usual in-cycle compensation system was unclear.) As the union team had wanted to know where these raises and bonuses were going, the administration team had to call up the "requesting units" and ask (the reasons for the raises and bonuses last year were not on file in the Provost's office, nor available via GEMS). We got stories of heroic work: designing several new courses (including distance-learning courses), assisting the Chair with substantial administrative duties, doing other extra duties. All these compensations were arranged by heads of "units" using the on-line forms available via the Provost's office. Asked if all the heads of "units" were aware of this system, the union team was told that this was the primary topic of an extensive meeting of the deans.

Then the union team asked to caucus: when a team caucuses it meets in private. The union team then discussed the situation, and a proposal, as modified by the information given.

The teams met again. (The public once more invited.) The union team presented its proposal. Again, the union's Chief Negotiator has years of experience negotiating, and is concerned that if the union broadcasts union proposals that will restrict the union team's ability to, ahem, play poker. Anyway, the proposal was a bit complex (the two sides have been inching towards somewhere in the middle), and the administration team had a number of questions. Reactions were mixed, and the administration team wants to think about it.

Our team has given them a proposal that gives them what they need in discretionary raises and bonuses. At the moment, the union team has no comment about administration bookkeeping, but we certainly hope that the administration will be meeting contemporary standards of accounting by next year. On other issues, our proposal is not out of line, and in many ways consistent with what other universities have accepted.

John Kerry at USF

UFF is affiliated via the Florida Education Association to both the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association. Both organizations have endorsed Senator John Kerry in his campaign for the presidency. At the July meeting of the AFT, Secretary-Treasurer Edward J. McElroy said, "With John Kerry in the White House, Americaís public schools will have the support and leadership they need to thrive" (see the AFT press release for more).

Senator Kerry will be visiting USF on Friday as part of a two-day Rally for a Stronger America. He will be speaking at the USF Sun Dome at noon, together with Vanessa Kerry, Congressman Jim Davis, and the Chris McCarty Band.

There is a story in the USF Oracle, and a web-page on Senator Kerry's website.

October 7, 2004

An Open Letter to the Bargaining Unit from Chapter President Roy Weatheford

Dear colleagues,

The administration is accelerating its practice of bargaining by news release and trying to end the crisis of its own creation by convincing the faculty that everything would be fine if only the evil union leaders would stop trying to feather their own nests and let the generous administration paternalistically take care of the faculty.

Several people whom I respect have suggested that everyone would feel better if the union would present a similarly detailed description of the state of bargaining. Let me first reiterate some of the fundamentals of our position:

Bedrock principle number one: Everyone must obey the law.

Bedrock principle number two: The union must be democratic.

Empirical fact of long standing: The union membership who pay dues and have the right to vote on what the union presents at the table have repeatedly voted to increase across the board raises and to tie performance-based raises to procedures and criteria developed and implemented with real faculty involvement. Discretionary raises are extremely unpopular with both union members and non-members in the bargaining unit, as indicated by polls and surveys.

New empirical fact: The Public Employees Relation Commission has supported an Unfair Labor Practice charge filed by UFF by ruling that public employers may not take to impasse any bargaining proposal that would require the union to waive its right to negotiate salaries Ė i.e., discretionary raises now cannot be imposed but must be the result of legitimate bargaining.

UFF Policy Decision: It is bad for the process to bargain through the press.

Keeping in mind these fundamentals, we are in the following position:

The administration has done just what we predicted a year and a half ago. They tried to break the union, then they tried to break the contract, then they agreed to reinstate most of the contract (including hot-button items such as tenure and academic freedom) and tried to cherry-pick a few items that they had been able to get into or out of the continuing contract, including in particular the grievance and arbitration process, the generous summer salary article, and the union rights and privileges that enable us to represent the faculty more efficiently. When we fought back they abandoned the attack on grievances several months ago and now seem to be abandoning their devious attempt to cut summer salaries by taking the article out of the contract and using the money that would be saved to give us the mythical 12% raise funded by our own salary cuts.

Four of the remaining issues are unlimited discretionary salary increases, the formula for distributing the raise money available, faculty governance, and released time for union activity.

Discretionary Raises

In the past UFF has sought to increase across the-board-raises so that all employees at least keep up with the cost of living. Similarly, we have tried to address the problem of salary compression and inversion generated by our painful combination of a national job market and state-based funding for salary increases. We are one of the few unions that also voluntarily negotiated merit pay increases, because our members do think that some financial reward for excellence is appropriate in our profession. We have even Ė uniquely among unions, so far as I know Ė agreed that it is reasonable for management to have a small flexible fund for discretionary increases to meet needs that have somehow not been met by the other two types. But when our salaries ceased to be a line item in the appropriations act, management began to shift more and more money into the "small" discretionary fund and less and less into the other types of raises. Last year some two million dollars was given to various individuals with no faculty involvement in the process. Next year, they are trying to put even more into discretion and less into the other types of raises. We are insisting that there be limits on discretionary raises Ė else that will become the only kind of raises there are. They are insisting they be unlimited.

Salary distribution

This is the one I really prefer not to argue about in public. There is an almost irresistible human impulse to evaluate the virtue of a specific proposal by calculating how much it will generate for ourselves. Then if either side changes a position, some individuals feel betrayed and others acquire a new stake in the new position. Then if that changes, they are infuriated. The essence of bargaining is that both sides MUST change in order for a resolution to occur, and the more we have hardened our positions in public the harder it is for either side to change. I believe in acting out of principle rather than specific self-interest. I believed that universities primarily need to have high compensation for senior faculty back when I was a shave-tail assistant professor and I continue to believe it now when it would benefit me. I believed that faculty who write books should have differential rewards back when I had time to write books and I continue to believe it now that I donít. But I have to ask the team specifically not to tell me what a proposal would do for "someone in my position" in order to hold down that strong human drive to self-interest. Trying to find an equitable balance between the desiderata of faculty and the (often ideologically imposed) needs of the administration is seldom easy Ė trying to do so in a sea of conflicting self-interests is virtually impossible.

Faculty governance

UFF has proposed that the contract legally guarantee our right to be involved in the governance of the university. As of now, our only such rights are the union rights guaranteed by law and our right to have the faculty senate president be an ex officio member of the Board of Trustees. The Senate itself exists on the sufferance of the administration and has only such powers as the administration is willing to delegate. The same is true with governance committees and boards. UFF has proposed to make such governance rights legally guaranteed. The administration has not responded.

Release time

President Genshaft has been opposed to release time for union work ever since she arrived at USF. Back when she was still talking to us she said that in the SUNY system the union paid for faculty releases. We pointed out that in New York they donít have a right-to-work law and everyone pays very hefty union dues. Here in Florida, we have to count on volunteer dues payers and volunteer union workers. If they donít have the time to do the bargaining, grievance, communication, and governance work that needs to be done, the faculty will have less effective representation. The Board of Regents recognized that long ago when we negotiated the release time guarantee at the state level, and the system has worked well for two decades. Now that bargaining has devolved to the university level, the workload for our chapter has seriously increased, as we now must do all the bargaining and the arbitration work right here that used to be done at the state level by people with state-wide released time. The administration has responded to our increased work load by unilaterally eliminating all release time at USF for the last year and a half, and now proposes that in future years we should have less than half what we had before our workload doubled. They hope you will see our resistance as the self-interested greed of unprincipled union hooligans who are keeping you from getting the raise you deserve.

President Genshaft told the Faculty Senate about a year and a half ago that she did not intend to use the reorganization process to harm the faculty or the faculty union. So far as I can tell, that was just not true. From the beginning we said "just give us our contract back and letís start bargaining from what we had already achieved." From the beginning they said "No."

Why do you suppose they said "No"?

Roy Weatherford

USF Chapter President, UFF

An On-Line Survey About USF Environment

For those of you who haven't filled out the survey yet ...

The United Faculty of Florida has adapted a faculty survey conducted by the Gainesville UF administration. The 14-question online survey is now available for all faculty and professional employees in the bargaining unit. This includes ranked faculty, instructors, visiting faculty, research faculty, student advisors and counselors, and librarians. It will be available through noon EDT, Wednesday, October 13, 2004. After you finish the survey, the survey site will show you the cumulative results up to that time. Both of the following URLs for the survey should work. If you cannot reach the survey with the shorter link, try the longer one: http://tinyurl.com/72brd and http://leadernet.aft.org/surveymaker/take/survey.cfm?id=35546f84-0e6c-092c-4cd7-d4cbe976c8a3.

October 14, 2004

Bargaining 101

Early in the Cold War, when the two sides would make a spy exchange by Checkpoint Charlie (in Berlin), the two teams (each with prisoner) would go into a kind of shuffle. One team would shuffle forward a little bit. The other team would shuffle forward a little bit. They would repeat a few times until they were a few feet from each other. Then ... carefully but quickly ... they would exchange prisoners and then carefully retreat. Many years later, after they learned about each other, they could walk more normally.

This shuffle, shuffle, shuffle comes up a lot in bargaining. Take a look at the bargaining positions on four (out of umpteen) issues, as of a few days ago, presented from the Administration's point of view. These positions are the results of months of shuffling; if you compare them with what the administration was offering earlier (see, e.g., the union's reaction to the Administration's first broadcast), you can see how far the Administration has shuffled since June. Not that the union hasn't shuffled as well.

Hopefully, in future negotiations we will be able to walk more normally.

At the moment, the bird is not quite in hand. The way bargaining works is that the two bargaining teams work out the language of each article of the contract; when both sides agree to an article the two chief negotiators initial it, "tentatively agreeing" (TA'ing) it. The last seven articles (which contain the four issues mentioned in the University Relations broadcast) have not been TA'd yet. At the moment, the two teams have agreed on four of the issues within those articles, and they are now working on the language. Once these last seven articles are TA'd, the proposed contract will be ready for ratification.

One thing about all this delay: one other thing the two teams agreed on is to follow standard practice and have pay raises be retroactive to August 7.

It Could be Worse

Twenty-one (and a half) months after the old contract expired, of the ten universities in the State University System, only Florida Atlantic University has a contract. USF is one of the places that is getting close -- there is a very good chance we will soon get a contract -- and because of this we are being watched by bargaining teams on both sides at other universities.

This is all very edifying, but what about places where things are really, really wrong? This is not mere schadenfreude (these are our colleagues!) but another way of understanding what is going on. After, doctors study sick people to understand illness.

The sickest is, of course, the University of Florida at Gainesville. UF's faculty are unhappy with the administration, as indicated in a new survey by International Survey Research (slogan: "the standard of the world"): the Gainesville Sun paraphrased ISR executive director Adam Zuckerman as saying that the results show attitudes so unfavorable toward the administration before the arrival of President Bernie Machen that UF could be likened to a company in crisis undergoing a takeover, massive regulatory changes or changes in leadership. Said UF President Bernie Machen, "What's most disturbing is the lack of credibility the faculty has in the central administration." It is also disturbing that Machen was taken by surprise, for faculty are upset over the UF Board's illegal refusal to even work towards schedule a certification election for the faculty union -- an election that would be unnecessary if the Board obeyed the law and recognized the United Faculty of Florida and the terms and conditions of the 2001 - 2003 contract. The ISR slide presentation is a 44-page .pdf document.

Perhaps more telling is a recent tempest at one of the four universities that did recognize UFF but at which virtually no progress in bargaining has occurred. Florida Gulf Coast University was from the beginning an ideological experiment in tenure-free universities (all new faculty are hired on various kinds of renewable contracts). The ideology became visible when the University's new First Year Reading Project invited Utah environmentalist Terry Tempest Williams to talk about her book, "The Open Space of Democracy." FGCU President William Merwin told his Board that the book criticized President Bush, and that "I in good conscience cannot permit an unbalanced political commentary ... on a public campus," and blocked Ms. Williams's presentation. The Board voted, eleven Jeb Bush appointees and one Student Government President versus one Faculty Senate president, to support Merwin's decision. This is but one of several politically motivated cancellations of college lectures across the country in the last few weeks.

It is possible that these phenomena are related. When the State University System was reorganized at Governor Jeb Bush's command, some of his allies announced that the reorganization would allow them to more readily intervene in campus decision-making processes. The rationale was often that pointy-headed leftist professors had to be contained somehow. It is possible that the Boards (largely consisting of Bush appointees) are feeling the pressure from the Governor's mansion.

So for example, if the Governor does not want new contracts to be too much like the old one, then there would be pressure to have administration bargaining teams present radically new language. We do not know the ultimate source for the Administration strategy, we can only observe that we see similar strategies across the state, conducted by negotiators ultimately responsible to boards that are beholden to the Governor.

Academic Learning Compacts

You may have noticed a sequence of plaintive memos from your chair's office about Academic Learning Compacts ("ALCs"), and how they are likely to consume a lot of time this fall.

Basically, Board of Governor Steve Uhlfelder, a lawyer with standardized test firms among his clientele, has been pushing standardized testing for college students. ALCs were proposed as a compromise. All departments are supposed to compose a set of additional standards for graduation (above the major and baccaleaureate requirements) and sent them to the Board of Governors for modification and approval. Once approved, the Governors would require that universities meet the criteria set by the compacts, or have the budgets cut by perhaps millions of dollars.

The BOG is being very coy about what an acceptable compact looks like, and the department chairs, not being clairvoyant, are trying to come up with ... something. When Provost Renu Khator spoke at the September 22 Faculty Senate meeting, she strongly urged faculty to study these ALCs carefully, and express their concerns to the Board of Governors. (The problem is that the Board of Governors might impose something completely unworkable, or very labor-intensive -- but without the resources required.) Both President Genshaft and Provost Khator said that the senior administration does not have a guaranteed place to speak on the issue at Board of Governor meetings (!), and noted that the Senate did, via the Board seat held by jointly by the Faculty Senates of the state universities. The Senate then moved to have Faculty Senate President Susan Greenbaum express the Senate's concern about ALCs ... at the October 21 meeting of the Board of Governors in the Sudakoff Conference Center, New College, Sarasota, which according to the current schedule (which changes) runs from 10:30 am to 4 pm. The public is invited.

There is also a meeting of the Performance and Accountability Committee, chaired by Mr. Steve Uhlfelder, starting at 8 am; for some of this committee's work, see the 17-page .pdf document.

This could well be a union issue. After all, if ALCs involve requiring faculty to fulfil goals of ALCs as part of their jobs, then certainly it is an employment issue. In addition, if these ALCs are to be used as standardized tests were to be used at SUNY --- to impose state requirements on what is taught --- there are very definite academic freedom issues involved. Finally, the Board of Governors and the Administrations, which should be using their time and energy to extract additional resources from the state, are being distracted by a weird and nebulous bit of bureaucracy: in setting this priority, the Board is undermining the welfare of the university system they are supposed to uphold, for the sake of political interests that have publicly stated their hostility to public education. This may well be a union issue.

October 28, 2004

USF and UFF sign tentative agreement

TAMPA, Fla. (Oct. 28, 2004) - The University of South Florida and the United Faculty of Florida have signed a tentative agreement providing for a 5% salary increase pool for faculty this year, the largest pool in recent memory.

"I've always said I wanted to reward high performing faculty and I feel we've accomplished this with this contract," said USF President Judy Genshaft.

In its goal of becoming one of the top 50 public research universities in five years its important to provide an environment that supports faculty in their pursuit of research, teaching and service, the president added.

"The union is pleased that the contract guarantees academic freedom, retains summer compensation and restores the legal enforceability of our rights," said UFF President Roy Weatherford. "These issues are important in maintaining the kind of environment essential to a good university."

USF will establish a pool of funds equal to five percent of the payroll of eligible employees in the bargaining unit. The pool will be distributed at the department or unit level to employees on a merit basis with a 2% guaranteed minimum for satisfactory performers.

The university and the union agreed to maintain the summer compensation formula as it has been. That formula provides for compensation for summer teaching at the same rate of compensation as for the same or equivalent course taught during the regular academic year.

The university and the union agreed USF will have the authority to provide additional salary increase to individual faculty for situations including promotions, verified counteroffers, increased duties and responsibilities, extra compensation, special achievements and market equity, including compression and inversion.

USF will grant release time for 15 courses per year, plus an additional 3 courses during the semester that a new contract is negotiated. Release time is granted for the purpose of carrying out the UFF's obligations in representing employees and administering the agreement. One unit of release times equals one class.

Other aspects of the contract include:

A $1,000 bonus, which USF will distribute to eligible employees in a one-time, lump sum, less taxes, as appropriated by the 2004 Legislature. Eligible employees are those who were continuously appointed from July 1, 2004 through December 1, 2004 and whose most recent performance evaluation is at least satisfactory.

Sexual orientation is included for the first time in the nondiscrimination provision of the contract.

A revised grievance process, which provides for an informal resolution period.

2/3 pay sabbaticals have been added.

Once the contract is ratified by the in-unit faculty it will then go to the Board of Trustees for final approval. Salary increases will be implemented after ratification but are retroactive to August 7, 2004.

Election Day

It may be that, as the political columnist Art Hoppe once wrote, that we vote against the candidates of our choice. This may explain why many of us concentrate on high-profile races that generate a lot of strong feelings, and perhaps overlook races that look less ... exciting.

So while we strongly encourage everyone to vote on these high-profile races, here is a reminder of the importance of other races. The Florida Senate and House members have a profound effect on the university system, as well as other major aspects of our lives. And we, as citizens living in this area, and being part of the university community, are profoundly affected by the policies and actions of mayors, city councilors, county commissioners, miscellaneous officials, and (it is hard to imagine a more critical position of trust) judges.

These are important offices, and we encourage everyone to look over the candidates very carefully, and to vote in those races. Democracy is a serious business. Let's take it seriously next Tuesday.

November 3, 2004 Extra

Last week, the UFF and Administration Bargaining Teams tentatively agreed on a Collective Bargaining Agreement -- a contract -- for 2004 to 2007. This contract will come into force as soon as it is ratified by both the faculty in the bargaining unit, and by the Board of Trustees. The Board wants the faculty to go first.

Very well. We are now mailing ballots via campus mail to all members of the bargaining unit. The bargaining unit not only includes all permanent faculty at Architecture, Arts & Science, Business, Education, Engineering, Nursing, Marine Science, Public Health, and Visual Arts (excluding most of the chairs), but also many university professionals including non-medical librarians, counselors, technicians, and many others.

If you are in the bargaining unit, you should receive a ballot within days. If you do not, contact us.

IMPORTANT: Your Contract Ratification Materials will come in a 9" x 12" Manila envelope with your name and campus address on it. Your ballot package will contain:

  • A description of major changes from the previous contract. Both the old 2001-2003 and proposed 2004-2007 contracts are just over 100 pages, so this will only cover highlights. Both these contracts, and this description of major changes, are on-line at the UFF on-campus site . This description is on white paper.
  • Instructions for mailing the ballot, on yellow paper.
  • The ballot, on blue paper.
  • A small, unmarked envelope for you to put your ballot in, and preserve your privacy.
  • A larger envelope with the campus address NEC116 on it.
Then:
  • Mark YES in favor of ratification or NO against ratification on the ballot.
  • Put the ballot inside the small ballot envelope, then seal but do not mark the small ballot envelope.
  • Put the ballot envelope in the mailing envelope and seal it.
  • Sign your name across the sealed flap of the mailing envelope, and print your name clearly (with your return address) on the upper left hand corner of the front side of the envelope.
  • Then mail it in.

IMPORTANT: Your ballot must be received by Thursday noon, November 18, to be counted.

IMPORTANT: The union believes that a large turnout will show the Administration and the Board how serious we faculty are at USF.

The union also believes that this contract, while necessarily a compromise, is a good contract. It is also a good place to begin the next contract for 2007-2010. We strongly recommend voting FOR ratification.

Finally, we were fortunate to have, on our faculty and on the chapter's Executive Council, a lawyer and experienced negotiator willing to put in the time and effort to protect faculty interests at USF -- on his own time. We thank Professor Bob Welker for his efforts, and we also thank the team of volunteer faculty that supported and assisted him: Susan Greenbaum (who resigned when she was elected President of the Faculty Senate), Mark Klisch, Kathleen de la Pena McCook, Steve Permuth, Art Shapiro, and Keith White.

Oh, and Professor Welker would like university professionals in the bargaining unit to observe that the raises for university professionals outside the unit are, on average, less than half that of those in the unit: the higher raise the UFF Bargaining Team won would pay union dues three times over -- for life. Maybe union membership is a bargain after all...

November 11, 2004

Contract Ratification

By now, everyone in the Bargaining Unit should have received ballot materials to vote on whether to ratify the 2004 - 2007 Collective Bargaining Agreement (i.e., the contract) negotiated by UFF and the USF Administration. This contract will come into force as soon as it is ratified by both the faculty in the bargaining unit, and by the Board of Trustees. The Board wanted the faculty to go first, so we are holding a referendum by (campus) mail ballot.

If you are in the bargaining unit, you should have received ballot materials by now. If you have not received them yet, contact Mark Klisch immediately so you can get your ballot sent in as soon as possible. BALLOTS MUST BE RECEIVED AT NEC116 BY THURSDAY NOON, NOVEMBER 18, in order to be counted.

The USF Chapter of UFF is strongly recommending that faculty vote IN FAVOR of ratification. This contract is mostly the 2001 - 2003 contract with some variations. For example, for the first time, salary raises are actual commitments, and are computed by a formula in the contract, with discretionary components clearly labelled: this makes it easier for faculty to verify that they are receiving the correct raise. (The raises are larger, too.) For more on the new contract, go to our on-campus website, to get:

  • The proposed new contract itself,
  • The old contract, to make comparisons,
  • A brief description of the significant differences, which was included in the ratification packet,
  • The latest issue of Uncommon Sense, the USF UFF Chapter newsletter (which everyone in the bargaining unit should also have received by now; if you did not, contact us, and
  • The November 3 USF UFF Biweekly Extra announcing the ratification election.
The union believes that a large turnout will show the Administration and the Board how serious we faculty are at USF, so please make sure to vote.

We are already getting kudos. UFF (statewide) President Tom Auxter (a philosophy professor at Gainesville) wrote us:
spacer "Congratulations to Bob Welker and the bargaining team and to Roy Weatherford and the very large group of UFF activists and supportive members at USF on this remarkable bargaining victory! You were dealing with a board that has been among the most recalcitrant in the state on issues that faculty care about most -- including academic freedom itself. You have not only preserved the academic freedom protections we had before; you have expanded them by deleting the collegiality requirement and adding responsibility for the administration to have a positive effect on the situation. There is another historic victory in adding sexual preference to the faculty rights that are protected by contract -- a UFF goal that goes back at least two decades.

I note that the five percent salary increase has accountability provisions that increase the likelihood of a fair distribution, while reducing administrative discretion in ways that are precedent-setting. I also note that you have achieved the longtime UFF goal of making sure that promotion raises are not deducted from the salaries of other faculty members at the same time that you have increased the raises themselves.

UFF at USF is an example for all of us to follow in the advantages of expanding the leadership to involve members in decision-making and translating a strong faculty consensus into action that supports the bargaining process and moves history. It is also an example of how bargaining genius and faculty activism can be coordinated to produce results. A great job!"

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So once again, be sure to vote!

Once the Contract is Ratified...

If all goes well, the contract could be ratified by Thanksgiving. But then, as it always does, Monday comes, and we find that we have work to do.

It has been nearly two years since "normalcy" ended on January 7, 2003, when the Board of Governors in Tallahassee, and all the Boards of Trustees, unilaterally decided to abrogate the contract. While much of that fight is over at USF (but not entirely: the legal question over the "continuity" between this new contract and the previous one continues), we are now reminded that keeping a contract alive requires eternal vigilance. And for that, the union needs YOUR help.

A contract does not enforce itself: the only way to make sure that the Administration follows the terms and conditions of the contract is to make it clear that we are watching for violations -- and by acting when the contract is violated.

For the contract will be violated. This sounds shocking, but it is actually part of life. In fact, it is so much a part of life that the contract has a whole article on dealing with violations: this is the grievance process. A "grievance" is a formal complaint that the Administration has violated the contract. Members of the bargaining unit who feel that they have been victims of contract violations may file grievances, and the union will assist in the grievance process, and getting redress.

There are three points to remember here: since the contractual grievance process was shut down nearly two years ago, we should remind ourselves of some basics.

First, a grievance is a complaint that the contract has been violated. It is not an assertion that the Administration has been unfair. To file a grievance, one must first have the specific contractual clause at issue.

Second, a grievance must be filed within 30 days of the time the grievant knew or should have known about the contract violation. The grievance process itself allows for informal and amicable resolution of problems, so one can file a grievance and still deal with the situation quietly. But if one doesn't file the paperwork within thirty days, it's all over and can't be fixed.

This second point is very important right now. One thing that will be done soon after the contract is ratified is: all the salary raises will be computed and handed out. The formula for computing raises is in the contract, as is the procedure for handing out discretionary raises. If you do not get the correct raise, you have thirty days to fix it; the clock starts ticking the moment you get the letter announcing what your raise is. So just as your students check the arithmetic in computing their test grades, you should check the arithmetic in computing your raise.

And now we, the Chapter, say ... ummm. It's been nearly two years since we handled any formal grievances, and we do assist faculty members (even non-union members, although we do radiate such people with guilt rays). Right now we have one experienced Grievance Chair (who is familiar with the new contract, having served on the UFF Bargaining Team), but he will need help.

So everyone out there who is interested in helping fellow faculty members in jams, please consider becoming a grievance advisor. There is some time and training involved, but you get to help faculty as seeing some of the very human parts of running a university. Contact the Grievance Chair, Dr. Mark Klisch.

If you don't feel up to grievances, but would still like to contribute, we do need volunteers to help build lines of communication, to bring faculty concerns to the union's executive committee, and to be available for faculty who have questions. If you are interested, please contact our Membership Chair, Professor Sherman Dorn.

If the contract is to be a living document, then we, the living, will have to give it life.

November 19, 2004

The USF Chapter of the United Faculty of Florida has just sent out the following press release:

USF Faculty Union Ratifies Contract Overwhelmingly

Tampa, Fla. -- The United Faculty of Florida (UFF) Chapter at the University of South Florida (USF) announced today that members of the General Faculty Bargaining Unit at USF have overwhelmingly ratified the proposed collective bargaining agreement negotiated between UFF and the USF administration.

Union president Roy Weatherford said, "This is the largest absolute vote on ratification we have ever had at USF. Faculty normally donít bother to vote unless they either are worried about the substance of the contract or they want to make a political statement for or against the union. This extremely strong vote indicates that faculty are very supportive of their union and the contract."

The official vote count was 663 in favor and 12 against, or 98.2 % in favor and 1.8 % against. In addition, 89 ballots were irregular and were not included in the official tally, but their votes were separately tabulated as 88 for and 1 against or 98.9 % in favor and 1.1 % against.

"Of all plausibly expressed opinions," Dr. Weatherford said, "751 supported the proposed contract and 13 opposed it. This 98.3 % to 1.7 % favorable ratio on a very large turnout is an overwhelming endorsement of the union position."

The contract goes into force when the Board of Trustees ratifies it. Raises will be retroactive to August 7. The master contract remains in force for two more academic years, with salary issues and selected articles renegotiated each year.

November 24, 2004

The Contract to be Ratified

We should remember that one of Governor Bush's goals was to prevent this from happening. Both he and the Legislature went to a lot of trouble to prevent us from getting a contract.

This may sound odd because the university is still having us sign, at roughly random times of the year, official-looking documents with signatures of lots of administrators on them, called contracts. But the very fact that the administration doesn't worry about getting them signed in a timely fashion shows that they are a formality. THE contract containing all our hard-won rights is the Collective Bargaining Agreement; that was the agreement that faculty voted for by better than 98 % to 2 %.

It is not officially ratified yet, but that's just because the Board doesn't want to spoil its Thanksgiving. The colleges and departments are already working on the details of implementation. So perhaps this is a good time to say thank you to those who made this possible.

First of all, thanks to the 1000+ faculty members who signed those Collective Bargaining Authorization cards last Summer, 2002. Yes, they were never legally used to force a certification election, but they persuaded the administration to "recognize" us voluntarily, and the fact that so many faculty signed was enough to impress upon the Administration that we are serious about our rights. Like dark matter, they created a gravitational force that worked for faculty interests.

But we needed help reaching out to faculty, handling the immense legal costs, and the paperwork. That is one thing a state or national union is for: to help a local in trouble. And so we thank our affiliates, the Florida Education Association, the American Federation of Teachers, and the National Education Association, for their expertise and financial assistance.

Meanwhile, back at home, we thank our colleagues at the Faculty Senate. The contract supersedes the New (personnel) Rules promulgated by the Board of Trustees in late 2002, but it was the Senate that fought that first round and, on some issues (like academic freedom and gender orientation non-discrimination) laid foundations for the union Bargaining Team's later successes.

We thank our Bargaining Team, Susan Greenbaum (who left to become President of the Faculty Senate), Mark Klisch, Kathleen de la Pena McCook, Steve Permuth, Art Shapiro, Keith White, and our Chief Negotiator Bob Welker for a job well done.

And finally, we thank the 764 faculty members who took the time to vote. Thank you all, and have a Happy Thanksgiving, complete with pumpkin pie.

Salary Computation

Right now, chairs across campus are receiving packets from the Administration describing how salary bonuses and raises are being handled. The methodology is outlined in the contract (which is on-line; see Article 23), and described in detail on various working documents which are now being distilled for use. At least one college is developing spreadsheets to handle the computations centrally.

We don't present the entire algorithm here (whew!). Of course this was a compromise: it looks it, after all. Here is an outline of how it works.

But first, a few words about evaluations, since this formula is evaluation driven.

Each year each faculty member is evaluated, and the evaluation produces a single number between 0.00 and 5.00: "satisfactory" is 3.00 or above. Here is how faculty with teaching, research, and service assignments compute their annual evaluations. You have percentages of your time (your time is measured in Full Time Equivalent, or FTE) devoted to teaching, research, and service: call them Pt, Pr, and Ps. You get an evaluation number (between 0.00 and 5.00) for each of teaching, research, and service: call them Et, Er, and Es. Your annual evaluation is:

(Pt % of Et) + (Pr % of Er) + (Ps % of Es).

For example, if your teaching, research, and service assignments were 60 %, 30 %, and 10 %, respectively, and your evaluations were 5.00, 4.00, and 2.00, respectively, then your annual evaluation was
EV2003 = (60 % of 5.00) + (30 % of 4.00) + (10 % of 2.00) = 3.00 + 1.20 + 0.20 = 4.40.

Note that 90 % of the FTE was satisfactory or above: some of the contract language deals with having at least a percentage of the FTE at or above satisfactory.

Anyway, let's call your 2003 evaluation EV2003 (this was the evaluation reported to you last spring).

Now, what do we do with these numbers?

First, the Legislature has decreed that we get bonuses: each faculty member who was continuously employed since July 1, and who was rated "satisfactory" or above on most of their FTE last year, gets a $ 1000 bonus. We interpret this to include faculty who were employed during the 2003-2004 academic year who took summer off.

Next comes raises, which are complicated, so here is just an outline. The mean 5 % raise consists of 4 % merit and 1 % discretion. First, if you got at least a "satisfactory" on most of your 2003 assigned duties, you get at least a 2 % raise. If your EV2003 score is less than 3.50, that is all you will get unless you also get a discretionary raise. So let's look at the region in between.

To compute your raise, multiply your 2003 evaluation EV2003 with a "multiplier" as follows:

  • If your EV2003 is between 4.75 and 5.0, multiply EV2003 by 1.2.
  • If your EV2003 is between 4.5 and 4.75, multiply EV2003 by 1.1.
  • If your EV2003 is between 4.0 and 4.5, multiply EV2003 by 1.
  • If your EV2003 is between 3.5 and 4.0, multiply EV2003 by 0.8.
  • If your EV2003 is below 3.5, multiply EV2003 by 0.
Call this product of EV2003 times multiplier your SCORE.

Then get three numbers from your department. These will have to be the "adjusted" numbers, since the entire computation is carried out several times, the last time after removing some faculty from the computation described below. So ask for the adjusted numbers used in the last computation:

  • SUM, the sum of the remaining SCORE scores of faculty in the department.
  • DISCRETE, equal to 1 % of the total base salaries of employees in the department or unit, before adjustments.
  • TOTAL, the pot for merit raises, equal to 4 % of the total base salaries of employees in the department or unit, minus commitments made after previous computations.
Then here we go. The pot is divided in three parts:
  • DISCRETE is divided up at the chair's discretion. This is your discretionary raise. It is capped: you cannot get a discretionary raise greater than 5 % of your current base + merit raise.
  • 1/2 TOTAL goes into a merit raise: compute (SCORE / SUM) times (1/2 of TOTAL) to get your first merit raise.
  • 1/2 TOTAL goes into a second merit raise: if SALARY is your base salary, compute
    [(SALARY/TOTAL) + (SCORE/SUM)]/2 times (1/2 of TOTAL)

    to get your second merit raise.
The sum of these three raises is your raise.

One last thing: what is this carrying repeated computation business? The computation is carried out as above, and then two contractual conditions are checked:

  • All faculty who got a "satisfactory" most of the time are guaranteed at least a 2 % raise.
  • All faculty who, after this first raise is computed (including discretionary raises), had at least a 4.00 average evaluation during the last five years and yet still has a base salary of 20 % or worse below market gets an additional 1 %.
After money is assigned for these commitments, by removing money from the pot (thus "adjusting" SUM and TOTAL), the computation is repeated as necessary.

Oh, yes, promotions of ranked faculty are accompanied by 9 % raises.

And of course, there are lots of little details, so it's not surprising that chairs are hoping for spreadsheets in their stockings this Christmas. We recommend that faculty pay close attention to their raises: this is the first time raises are being distributed this way, and there may be glitches. And as we tell our students, the only way errors can be corrected is by pointing them out.

December 9, 2004

The Contract is Now in Force

Last Thursday, on December 2, the Board of Trustees unanimously voted to ratify the 2004 - 2007 Collective Bargaining Agreement. President Judy Genshaft said, "We should really break out the champagne ... This is a major accomplishment." Chapter President Roy Weatherford praised the Faculty Senate for its hard work last year in dealing with the New Rules, and thanked the Board for its civility. The story was covered in the local media:

The official signing ceremony will be Monday at 2:00 pm in the Presidentís Conference Room (in Allen Hall, in suite ADM241). Please let us know if you would like to attend, as space will be limited.

Now that both the faculty and the trustees have voted to ratify, the contract is now in force, effective December 2. Of course, the contract does not enforce itself, and if anything goes wrong, the union cannot do anything about it if the union doesn't know about it. So if your contractual rights are violated, please tell us about it. For most violations, action must be take within 30 days, so don't delay: contact our grievance chair, Dr. Mark Klisch.

For example, during the last two years, a lot of employees within the bargaining unit have had their jobs reclassified. Between January 7, 2003 (when the old contract expired) and December 2, 2004 (when the new contract came in force), the Administration says that there was no contract, so they could reclassify anyone they wanted to. The union contends that the terms and conditions of the old contract did apply, and that litigation continues even now (and its outcome will affect how the new contract is enforced, which is why the union is still pursuing it). The most serious kind of reclassification is for someone who was in the bargaining unit to be reclassified OUT of the bargaining unit: that can be illegal and can be dealt with -- if the union knows about it.

Anyone reclassified between Jan. 7, 2003, and Dec. 2, 2004 must await the outcome of that litigation if the reclassification affected their contractual rights under the old contract. NEVERTHELESS, it is important to tell our grievance chair if you had your position reclassified, especially if you were moved out of the bargaining unit as a result. Alas, the Administration is not in the habit of given us lists of employees they mistreat, so we must rely on employees telling us themselves.

However, there is no controversy that as of December 2, all the contractual law protects employees, including protection from being reclassified out of the unit. If you are so reclassified subsequent to December 2, let us know at once so we can take immediate action.

Officially, membership in the union is determined by your "job code," which your departmental manager will know. The union represents employees with position numbers 9001 - 9007, 9009, 9016 - 9019, 9053 - 9056, 9115, 9120, 9121, 9126, 9150 - 9153 (see Appendix A (page 87) of the 2004 - 2007 Collective Bargaining Agreement.)

Best Wishes to Beleagured Colleagues

When Governor Jeb Bush and then House Speaker John Thrasher planned the reorganization of the State University System on a cocktail napkin, one of the targets turned out to be ... the faculty union. And while we have won the battle at USF and FAU, the battle still rages elsewhere.

At Florida International University, the Administration has pushed for a shortened contract that would permit dismissal of a tenured faculty member for "persistent uncollegial behavior" as well as "the exclusive right ... to determine or change curriculum, programs, and degrees to be offered, as well as the materials, processes, products, ..., and methods of instruction... ." FIU's Chapter President Alan Gummerson enumerated contractual rights that the Administration proposed to eliminate: "The right to equitable assignments, to a fair evaluation, to leaves, promotion, non-reappointment, disciplinary action, conflict of interest, benefits, intellectual property rights, non-discrimination." Stranger still is the Administration's proposal for a new demotion procedure. And a sentiment for collegial governance was replaced by an exhortation that faculty "accept and execute all lawful instructions given them."

FIU's Administration has had problems bargaining from the beginning, when the Administration began objecting to meeting places. But unlike USF, where the two teams quickly agreed that the new contract should have roughly the same structure as the old, FIU's Administration is determined to have a skeletonized contract which would be more consistent with contemporary business practices (of their board?) that would also be, in the words of FIU Provost Mark Rosenberg, "consistent with the modern research university."

It is not clear what is going on. The Administration is enduring a scandal involving financial irregularities and external funding and there are other money problems. But the Administration's conduct has been very strange, and perhaps strangest of all was their decision to back out of previously Tentatively Agreed on language. Contract junkies may recall that contracts are often bargained article by article, with agreed on articles Tentatively Agreed on by the two chief negotiators. Apparently last month FIU's Administration's Chief Negotiator unagreed on three items, which raises serious questions about not only the competence but the integrity of the Administration's team.

On Monday, November 22, Chapter President Gummerson spoke to the Board, warning that the university was in danger: "the effect of these attacks on the faculty is to drive away the best researchers and scholars, to universities which offer collegial governance, real academic freedom rather than lip-service, and the kind of environment where creative activity, the creation of knowledge, and critical thinking are encouraged, not threatened." About 250 faculty attended, and there has been some murmuring among faculty about leaving. For more about this, see the FIU UFF website.

Meanwhile, at the University of Central Florida...

...the Board of Trustees has declared impasse. While the FIU board has come close, it has not uttered The Word. Yet UCF Provost Terry Hickey, noting that after 35 Bargaining sessions over 14 months, only three articles had been Tentatively Agreed to, sent a letter to the campus announcing the impasse. See the Administration's side.

The UFF team noted that they had been negotiating in good faith, and as in all bargaining, had been adjusting their proposals in response to Administration proposals seeking acceptable compromises (which is how bargaining works). The UFF UCF webmaster wrote, "We have been told that it is extremely uncommon for impasse to be declared when so many articles are still unsettled. More commonly, both parties work diligently on one article or designated small groups of articles at a time so that they can come as close as possible; impasse is then declared when only a few difficult issues remain. Because the BOT declared impasse with so many issues unsettled, we cannot now predict how long the impasse process will take. Quite possibly, this process will take longer than good faith negotiations would have taken." See the union's side.

Curiouser and curiouser. Well, the UFF response is a clear commentary on the Administration's declaration that "The Board of Trustee's bargaining team is working diligently with the UFF to reach agreement on all terms and conditions of employment in an effort to better meet the needs of the university and the members of the faculty and professional employees' bargaining unit." Outside of the question of how diligent the Administration actually is, there is the more serious problem of what happens now.

Impasse is a legal state:

  • The two sides agree on an independent Special Master, who can recommend but not impose a resolution.
  • Meanwhile, the "Legislative Body" for the contract can impose (to a limited extent) interim terms and conditions of employment. Before the reorganization, the Legislative Body was the State Legislature; current theory is that it is now ... the relevant Board of Trustees.

There are two issues here.

  • What does the Administration hope to gain in the new contract? The Administration complains that there hasn't been much progress in the exchanges of proposals and counterproposals. The Administration may be taking steps to get a contract, or to get a contract more to its liking.
  • What happens meanwhile? Historically, the State Legislature would Solomon-like split the difference (like hand out across-the-board raises). But for the UCF Board of Trustees -- the interested party calling for impasse -- also be the Legislative Body during impasse is an anomalous situation that could lead to litigation in itself.

Speaking of litigation, a lot of this mess is entangled with an Unfair Labor Practice complaint brought before the Public Employees Relations Commission (PERC). UFF had complained that the UCF Administration had been unilaterally handing out "out-of-cycle" compensation while evading the collective bargaining process (sound familiar?) and PERC ruled in favor of UFF. This litigation was going on while UFF and the UCF Administration were bargaining compensation.

There have been a lot of Unfair Labor Practice complaints lately, just as there has been a lot of weirdness, perhaps arising from a general desire among the boards to get an anti-union victory to present to the anti-union governor who appointed them. It will take a while for the SUS reorganization's massive injection of politics to wear out. USF has been very fortunate in many ways, and perhaps USF could serve as a model on how to get a contract signed.


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