On May 7, 2004, after months of delay by the FIU administration, the UFF bargaining team met with the bargaining team for the FIU Board of Trustees to begin work on our first local Collective Bargaining Agreement. UFF is glad finally to be at the table. But we are troubled by the pace and direction of local bargaining.
During the transition from a state SUS system to local control by the Board of Trustees, UFF was repeatedly assured that the administration was eager to ratify a new contract. In the Provost's words, the administration would not try to "reinvent the wheel", but would seek only limited changes to the former UFF-Board of Regents Collective Bargaining Agreement.
However, the administration refused to recognize UFF until February 2004 and then delayed bargaining all spring by refusing to meet at a time and place that would accommodate the teaching schedules of the UFF team. Now the Board of Trustees' bargaining team has proposed not the modest changes that had been promised, but radical new language that would erode collegial relationships and rights established over decades of bargaining.
Their first proposal would eliminate the Preamble from the former contract, thus gutting the contract of important language respecting faculty governance. You can read the old language at http://www.uff-fiu.org/nindex.php/uff.announce.html. Rather than even mentioning the importance of faculty governance, the BoT proposed a one-paragraph Preamble that instead emphasizes that "members of the bargaining unit will ... accept and execute all lawful instructions given to them."
We need to reach agreement quickly on a contract that restores the grievance process and provides fair raises for faculty. But UFF will not bargain away important rights just to get a deal. Thus far, the BoT's bargaining team has been so rigid in its demands about when and where to meet and so radical in its proposals that we believe they mean to make this a lengthy and difficult process. We need your membership and your support to send the message to the Provost, the President, and the Board of Trustees that the faculty expect good faith bargaining and a fair contract. We cannot settle for less.