Over the past year, UFF and the FIU administration have proposed very different visions of our first local collective bargaining agreement.


UFF believes a university runs best on principles of democracy and shared governance.   We have developed our contract proposals after extensive consultation with the members of our bargaining unit.  We have come to the bargaining table committed to fight for the things faculty and librarians have told us are important.  Our goal has been to reach agreement quickly, trying to work wherever possible with the already compromised language of the previous collective bargaining agreement—preserving provisions that have worked for almost three decades and seeking improvements in areas we think are most critical to our bargaining unit members. 


The administration, on the other hand, has taken a radical approach—aiming to wipe out in a single bargaining cycle most of the contract rights and protections won over almost three decades of bargaining.  Rather than identifying key problem areas and seeking to bargain improvements, the administration has stubbornly refused even to put on the table proposals for contract language concerning many important terms and conditions of employment.  It has proposed again and again that rights previously covered by contract be left "VACANT." Instead, it has demanded discretion to develop policies and enforce them as it sees fit, free of a grievance and arbitration process.


The underlying message is that the administration is "boss" and employees had better get used to it—used to taking orders and relinquishing control over their professional lives.   Employees are asked to trust that an institution built on principles of shared governance and collegiality will do better if it is managed from the top down.  Key protections—fair summer pay, due process in disciplinary actions, equitable assignments, fair evaluations according to clear standards, intellectual property rights—all would disappear from the contract if the administration has its way.   Here is a summary of the differences between UFF's proposals and the adminstration's.   






Would define academic freedom broadly to protect faculty in the discussion of  all relevant matters in the classroom,  scholarship, research and creative expression, all matters of university governance and  individual expressive activities unrelated to university duties. 




Would only protect faculty employees discussing their "own academic subjects" in the classroom or performing assigned service activities.  Would not protect faculty from discipline for individual expressive activities if they were not part of assigned duties.  Would not protect employees speaking out on issues of university governance.  



Protects contract rights to equitable assignment, expedited grievance in case assignment is unreasonable, and employee’s rights to determine where and when to carry out unscheduled activities.  Annual evaluation must be based on assignment.


In event of non-reappointment, requires a full year’s notice to employees with more than two years service, and a semester’s notice for employees in their first two years of service.





No longer any contract right to equitable assignment or to grievance and arbitration process to resolve disputes over unreasonable or unfair assignments.  


Under proposed policy, if an employee feels his assignment is unreasonable or arbitrary, he “should proceed to address the matter through the Provost’s review process.” 


Proposed policy reduces notice period for non-reappointment.   Those with 3 or more years of continuous service are entitled only to two consecutive semesters notice.  Less than three years of service means only one semester’s notice of non-reappointment.





Would continue contract right to use reasonable amounts of paid sick leave if there is a death in the immediate family.  What is a reasonable number of days would depend on circumstances, including such factors as travel time required or responsibilities for making funeral arrangements.




Would eliminate contract right to use reasonable amounts of sick leave due to death in family.


Proposed policy would restrict employee to three days of paid leave for death in immediate family, no matter the circumstances.






Would protect long-standing employee contract rights to engage in outside activities, both paid and unpaid, for purposes of service, extra income, or increasing professional standing.  Employee would be required to report only those activities that employee reasonably believed to create a potential conflict of interest, and could engage in activities unless they were deemed to be a conflict in an expedited grievance procedure.



Would eliminate contract protections for employee rights to engage in outside activities.


Proposed Policy on Conflict of Interest:  Would require employee to fill out a Report if considering any outside activity (defined as any activity, compensated or uncompensated, which is not part of the employee's assigned duties and for which the University provides no compensation).  This broad new language appears to create an absurdity we doubt was intentional—literally every activity not included in the assignment would be covered—from brushing one's teeth at bedtime to meeting one's spouse for dinner and a movie.  The previous contract language avoided this absurdity by specifying that employees make a reasonable judgment about what might be expected to create a conflict of interest.  The administration team insists, however, that it cannot agree in plain language to leave this to employee judgment, but that employees will know what to report.   Employee could not engage in any outside activity until it has been approved.  Would require a report to be filed annually, whether or not there is any outside activity.   Would prohibit employees from compensated employment or service on BOT of any other colleges or universities except under special circumstances.  No expedited grievance procedure to resolve disagreements between employees and supervisors.



An employee would have contract rights to a single evaluation file, which the employee would have the right to examine and paginate, and copy free of charge.  Clear rules would govern about the contents of the file (no anonymous material, dates required on material placed in the file, materials would have to go into file within a reasonable time after receipt by custodian of the file, and materials shown to be false could be removed from the file).


Maintains criteria for evaluation from previous contract.   Would not allow new and ill-defined criteria to be used as a basis for evaluation or tenure or promotion decisions or burden faculty with entrepreneurial responsibilities or meeting subjective core values or "collegiality" requirements. 




























Retains clear protections for faculty with respect to English language proficiency, including requirements that university provide and pay for resources to help faculty improve English language skills if testing determines there are deficiencies. 












Protects employees in assistance programs from risking that their attempts to improve performance will be used against them as evidence of deficiencies. 


Clearly defines contract rights of employees to remove anonymous materials from evaluation file and clearly defines the processes to be used for evaluation by supervisors, peers and students.  





























Sustained performance review must be based solely on previous six years annual evaluations.  Employee with satisfactory annual evaluations must receive satisfactory sustained performance evaluation.  Performance Improvement Plan only allowed where performance has been consistently below satisfactory in one or more areas of assignment. 



Contract protections for evaluation and requirements concerning evaluation file would disappear. 


Proposed policy would require that all evaluation files be kept by Human Resources and a charge for copies of materials in the file. There would be no rules about what kinds of material could go into the file.  Another proposed policy, however, seems to allow “anonymous” complaints.


New policy would burden faculty with new evaluation criteria.  For example, learning objectives and outcomes assessment would be added as a basis for evaluation of teaching.  Publication in "professional journals" would change to publication in  "professional refereed journals."  Instead of providing that "research and creative activity that has not yet resulted in publication, display or performance" could be taken into account, the proposed policy would restrict the evaluation to "research and creative activity that has resulted in publication, display and performance." 


Adds to assigned university duties "attending commencement ceremonies."


Adds an entire section of evaluation criteria based on "contribution to or further development of the University or community enterprise, including evidence of initiative in identifying, developing and bringing a vision to life, with an end result of creating a new venture, formed under conditions of risk and considerable uncertainty.  Entrepreneurial (or intrapreneurial) activities" become a new basis for evaluation of faculty.  


Adds standards to be used for appraisal of progress toward tenure and promotion, including evaluation of "collegiality" as a basis for tenure.


Under new policy for proficiency in spoken English, faculty would be required to “establish proficiency." The previous contract prohibited administration from evaluating employee as deficient unless tests showed deficiency.  Policy would provide   no specifics for procedures to be followed for correction of deficiencies, and would do away with the requirement that administration make language instruction available at no cost to employee found to be deficient in spoken English. 


Performance Improvement Plan is added a criterion for annual evaluation of tenured employees, when applicable. 


Policy would remove protection for employee participation in employee assistance program from being used as evidence of a performance deficiency.


Under the proposed new policy, the "Performance Development Process" would become part of the annual evaluation.    Described as a "year-round process," this would provide "input for merit pay and reward programs."  Allows supervisor to "solicit feedback" from a variety of sources, including peers, students and "other constituents."  Provides no procedural safeguards for how this feedback is to be used or whether employee has the right to know who provided information, because the former contract protection against anonymous materials in the evaluation file would no longer exist.  

Requires employees to attend mandatory training on the PDP and the use of the Performance Impact software tool.  Requires that each faculty employee be evaluated using FIU's Values and Core Competencies, including Diversity & Respect, Honesty & Integrity, Knowledge Excellence, Operational Excellence, Service Excellence, Communications Skills, Critical Thinking Skills, Efficiency Management, Leadership Skills, Personal Effectiveness Skills, and   Team Skills. 


Policy would require that third-year tenure review of progress toward tenure would result in   either notice of offer of further employment or notice of non-reappointment.


Policy would require sustained performance review of tenured employees after five years, instead of after seven years.  Does not provide the protections provided in the previous contract.  Does not insure that sustained performance evaluation be based on annual evaluations or that a tenured employee with satisfactory annual evaluations will be given a satisfactory sustained performance evaluation.  "Below satisfactory Sustained Performance Evaluation in one or more areas" would result in imposition of Performance Improvement Plan, and failure to meet goals established in plan could result in termination of tenured employee.



Would provides contract right to grievance and arbitration process that sets clear rules for review of administrative decisions.  Proposed procedures minimize harm to employee-supervisor relationships by allowing adequate time for employees to work with UFF grievance representatives to define issues and propose resolution prior to filing a formal grievance.   



Would take away employee grievance and arbitration rights in all but a limited number of circumstances.  Time allowed for employees to file grievances would shrink to ten days, reducing the possibility of informal resolution.

Under the proposed policy for resolution of disputes employees with problems would be told to try to work problems out by talking with their supervisors: their court, their ball, their rules.  Ironically, this is called "FAIR"—an acronym for "fast and impartial resolution" of problems.  We admit it sounds fast.  But how impartial can it be when the same supervisor who made a bad decision is the one who is asked to review that bad decision?   A grievance process provides an avenue for review before a truly impartial third party.



Would protect employee rights in works and inventions except where a specific written agreement gives the university an ownership interest or share of the revenues derived from an employee's invention or creative work. 



Gives employees no contractual rights to their works and inventions.  Proposes policy for disclosure requirements and procedures to be followed by employees concerning establishing ownership and revenue rights from their creative works and inventions.



Contract defines “job abandonment” as absence without authorized leave for twelve or more consecutive days.  If employee notifies the university that absence is for reasons beyond employee’s control, the employee will not be considered to have abandoned the position.



No contract protection or definition.


Proposed “Separations of Employment” policy greatly reduces previous protections. It would allow an employee to be absent without leave only three days before being automatically terminated.  If employee notifies the university that absence is for reasons beyond employee’s control, university will decide whether employee is considered to have abandoned position.  




Would protect employees with more than five years service from being laid off before more recent hires.  Would give any employees who are laid off the right to a year's notice and two years' recall rights.





Would shorten required layoff notice to two semesters for tenured employees and as little as one month for non-tenured employees.  Makes no distinction in layoff protection between employees with more than five years service and new hires. Recall rights would be reduced to one year.





Would add contractual protection against discrimination based on sexual orientation to the protections against discrimination that have long been protected by the collective bargaining agreement, not subject to unilateral change and enforceable through grievance and arbitration.





Would eliminate any and all contract protections against discrimination.


Protection against discrimination (on the basis of sexual orientation would be a matter of policy—subject to change by administrators who may have different views on human rights or face changing political pressures.   



Would strengthen contract rights to provide for six months parental leave at full pay during fall or spring semester and at .33 FTE during summer semester.



No contract right to any parental leave, paid or unpaid.


Would provide parental leave as required by the FMLA, along with an additional six months unpaid leave (employee may use accrued leave if available).  



Would be based on the principle that no employee should be expected to take a pay cut to fund merit raises for others.  All employees would receive a 4.5% increase in base retroactive to the first pay period in the 2004-05 fiscal or academic year, as applicable, to adjust for the inflation that has eaten away at our salaries since our last across-the-board raise in October  2002.   In addition, the proposal calls for funds of 1% of payroll to distribute for merit (retroactive to 11/1/04) and 2% of payroll to distribute for market equity increases (retroactive to 11/1/04), with .5% available for administrative discretionary increases for special achievements, counteroffers and other increases. 


The summer salary formula would be spelled out in salary article: full pay for summer courses.




Proposed three year deal would lock in low rates for faculty raises based on a bad budget year.   Worse yet, proposed raises would not be effective until 3/4/05 (which leads us to believe the administration has been dragging its feet on negotiations in part as a budgeting device).  Proposal would give across the board increase of 3% and 1% for merit money.    


Increases of 1% across the board and 2% merit funds would go into effect in 11/1/05.  And a year later, employees would receive another 1% across the board, with 2% in merit funds.   







Allows use of reasonable amounts of sick leave to care for spouse, grandparent, parent, brother, sister, child, grandchild of both the employee and the spouse and dependents living in the household.


Upon retirement or layoff, employee with ten or more years' service has a contractual right to lump sum payment for up to 480 hours of unused sick leave.




No contract right to any sick leave.


Policy would not allow use of sick leave to care for spouse’s family members.



Policy would end lump sum payment to employees for unused sick leave (only those with at least 10 years service on effective date of policy would be grand fathered in).



Would continue the summer pay formula that has guaranteed faculty the right to fair summer pay for each and every summer class and the right to equitable summer assignments. 




Would take away contract right to fair summer pay and equitable summer assignment. 

Proposed policy would cut summer pay, leaving pay for first class intact for now, but giving deans discretion to decide what to pay those teaching a second or third summer course and to assign extra duties for no extra pay. 




Would continue contract provision granting facilities and course releases necessary for union officers to represent bargaining unit employees, including bargaining and enforcement of contract rights through the grievance process.



Would do away with long-standing contract rights, providing no facilities or course releases for union representation and instead forcing union to purchase facilities and course releases. 


In addition to proposing that many of the rights guaranteed by previous contracts be eliminated and replaced by policies, the administration has proposed a number of new policies that increase burdens on employees already being asked to do more with less.   Here are some examples:


Information technology security policy:


New policy would require employees to promise to adhere to all laws, rules, regulations and policies pertaining to computer security and protection of electronic information resources.  Compliance requires familiarity with at least 18 federal and state statutes and four different FIU policies on computer use listed in the policy.



"New Employee Experience." 


Would require all employees to attend on first day of employment (non-faculty) or first available session following first day of employment (faculty).


Professional development policy:


New policy would require every employee every year to set a Learning Goal and take part in a minimum of 20 hours of professional development.  Nothing in the policy requires FIU to pay for this training.


Policy on Internal Recruitment, Promotions, Demotions, & Transfers:


Purpose is to provide employees "internal career-pathing opportunities."   Provides for a Compensation Manual to be used in raising or reducing salaries, depending on the direction of an employee's internal "career path."



Policy on Solicitation, Distribution and Posting: 


Would prohibit solicitation for a variety of reasons, including memberships, except in non-work areas during the non-work time of all involved.  Distribution of any literature prohibited.  Posting of materials on bulletin boards only with approval of HR.  We can't help but wonder if this was drafted with employee union membership in mind.


Political activity:


New policy would require an employee who wanted to run for office to get prior approval from the university president.  If the president decided this would interfere with duties, the employee would be forced to take a leave of absence or resign.  Establishes no process for appeal of the president’s judgment. 


If employee wants to take time off from work for political activities, employee must get approval from your supervisor.  New policy doesn’t define what it means by participation in political activities (is voting included?).  Nothing in the policy seems to provide a check on supervisor's discretion in approving or denying this request for time off.  What if only employees whose views the supervisor agrees with are granted requested time for political activities?


 Exit Reviews: 


Would provide a procedure for docking pay of departing employees for "outstanding debts." 


Pre-Employment Requirements:


Policy would subject all prospective employees to criminal background checks and fingerprinting.  Requires English proficiency of all faculty employees with teaching assignments, but does not spell out how that requirement will be interpreted or what remedies will be provided to faculty who fail to meet requirements.














There are also several new benefits to be provided under policies, and in fairness, we need to mention them:


Tuition Waiver Program:


Policy would allow employee, spouse and dependent children under 25 to enroll for a combined maximum of 6 credits of in-state tuition per semester.  See details of policy for restrictions:  e.g. if an employee received less than a B in the course, employee would be charged for the tuition.



Same-Sex Domestic Partnership Health Insurance Stipend:


Would provide financial assistance to employees in same-sex domestic partnerships to obtain health insurance coverage for same-sex partners. 


Contact Us

Chapter President Eric Dwyer
Grievance Chairperson Lauren Christos

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[last updated: March 24 2005]