Members of the Faculty Collective Bargaining Unit,
As you probably know, your UFF bargaining team and the administration's team were able to reach agreement on a new collective bargaining agreement after four days of intensive bargaining on December 30. On January 18 the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees approved that agreement. Now the faculty in the bargaining unit will decide whether to accept it in a ratification election, and, if so, the full Board of Trustees will have to ratify it before it can go into effect.
We are aiming for the ratification election to be held on February 14 on the BBC campus, and on February 15 on the UP campus and the Engineering Center. The week before the election we plan on having three informational meetings about the agreement, one at BBC, one at the Engineering Center, and one at UP, which will be conducted by members of the UFF bargaining team who will explain the agreement and answer questions any faculty in the bargaining unit may have. We will also post the full text of the agreement on the UFF website as soon as it is ready; editorial changes are still being worked out by the bargaining teams. We will also distribute a detailed summary of the agreement, both by email and by distribution to campus mailboxes. That document will also include times and places of the informational meetings, times and places for voting, and instructions for absentee ballots for those who may not be able to vote in person.
What follows are the highlights of the new agreement. I apologize for the delay in sending this to you, but our UFF server has been on the fritz for weeks and has only been fixed today. I think you will be pleased with the new agreement. Your bargaining team of Joan Baker, Paul Warren, and Chief Negotiator Lorna Veraldi are three associate professors who have worked extremely hard for three years--without reductions in their course loads or research expectations--and have stood firm against a serious effort to take away from the faculty rights and benefits that have accumulated over the past thirty years. That they have succeeded magnificently will become clear as you study the new agreement. We all owe them an enormous debt of gratitude.
The best way for you to show that you appreciate what the bargaining team has done for us is to join the United Faculty of Florida. We are not asking you to contribute hundreds of hours of your time as the bargaining team has. All we ask is that you bear your share of the costs of an organization that works to protect you and win benefits for you. Please become a member of UFF. You may download a membership form at http://www.uff-fiu.org/nindex.php/uff.form.html
Highlights of the FIU-UFF Collective Bargaining Agreement:
Salaries for the 2005-06 academic year: On top of the 3.6% across the board raise that went into effect in August, an additional 1.4% departmental merit raise, retroactive to August, distributed on a per capita basis to departments and decided by departmental criteria. An additional 1% for discretionary raises, counter-offers, Senate and Honors College awards already distributed, special awards, etc.
Promotions: Instead of the previous 9% raise upon promotion, elevation to associate professor will now bring a 10% raise, and promotion to full professor a 12% raise, retroactive to August.
Summer pay: Instead of the previous 11% of 9-month salary for each 3-credit summer course, the first 3-credit course will pay 12.5%, the second course 11%, and the third course will pay a minimum of $5,500.The latter would imply a raise for anyone whose salary is less than $50,000 for 9-months, and others could negotiate for more than the minimum.
New Parental Leave policy: Six months leave at full pay for a new parent, to be used one time only, in addition to the right to unpaid or FMLA leave (using unused sick leave or annual leave, if available) in the previous agreement. FIU is the first university in the state to agree to such a policy.
Sabbaticals: One one-semester full pay (or two-semester half-pay) sabbatical for every 40 employees, plus one two-semester two-thirds pay sabbatical for every 40 employees. Professional Development Leave for those not on tenure tracks was preserved.
Sick Leave Payout: All current faculty with ten or more years of service retain the right to accrued sick leave payout when they retire from the university, although faculty hired after July 1, 2006 will not have such a right. Out-of-unit employees with less than 10 years of service by last July 1 lost their right to payment on retirement for accrued sick leave last year, but we preserved it for all current faculty.
Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation will now be prohibited and subject to grievance and arbitration under the Non-discrimination article.
Academic Freedom: Protection is expanded beyond the faculty member’s “own academic subjects”, to include both the freedom “to speak freely on all matters of university governance”, as well as the freedom “to speak, write or act as an individual, all without institutional discipline or restraint.”
Tuition benefits for employees and their families and health insurance stipends for same-sex domestic partners, which went into effect for out-of-unit employees, will now be extended to the UFF bargaining unit, as will a new university policy providing three days of paid bereavement leave, in addition to the ability to use reasonable amounts of sick leave for bereavement leave.
The UFF chapter will be provided adequate office space and enough release time to allow chapter volunteers to continue to do the work of representing the bargaining unit and negotiating future bargaining agreements.
Because of time constraints, we agreed to collectively bargain the language for a new policy on Inventions and Works after ratification of the new agreement, with previous language in place until a new agreement is achieved.
Finally, we agreed to convert a number of articles to “BOT-UFF Policies” which will appear in an appendix to the agreement, which have been bargained, which cannot be changed unless bargained in a new agreement, and which are not subject to the grievance and arbitration procedure. Instead they will be enforced by a new mechanism for the neutral, internal resolution of disputes (NIRD).
The first two steps of the grievance process and the NIRD process will be identical, with adequate time to allow for informal resolution. However, instead of a single arbitrator at step three, the decision will be made by a three-person panel: one “partisan” chosen by the union, one partisan chosen by the university president, and a third “neutral” chosen by the two partisans from a jointly-selected pool of FIU alums or former employees. This pool of neutrals will be trained as professional labor arbitrators. The neutral chosen will be the chair of the panel and must be governed by the Code of Professional Responsibility for Arbitrators, and the process must follow the rules of the American Arbitration Association.
Essentially, we have preserved the arbitration process, except that the arbitrator must be familiar with FIU and be advised by a partisan from each side of the dispute. We believe this will ensure a fair process, and may lead to better decisions than those often rendered by arbitrators who have little knowledge of how universities function.
Pretty good, don't you think? Now, about that membership form: http://www.uff-fiu.org/nindex.php/uff.form.html Alan