Where Things Stand
The 2005 – 2008 BOT-UFF Collective Bargaining Agreement expired July 1, 2008. Faculty and librarians continue to be protected by its terms and conditions, which continue as status quo until a new Collective Bargaining Agreement is ratified. UFF has been in contract negotiations with the FIU administration since April. We have made significant progress, but two important issues remain to be resolved.
First, some very good news. We have tentatively agreed on a new Promotions Policy that would – for the first time – provide opportunities for promotion (and promotion raises) to Instructors and Lecturers.
As Fall Semester began, we ratified a side agreement that allowed promotion raises to go into effect at the beginning of the contract year. However, we are still in the process of bargaining over salary increases for 2007-2008 and 2008-2009. FIU and the rest of Florida’s public universities have faced significant budget cuts, and expectations are that more cuts are likely after the election. While UFF believes we are close to an agreement on salaries, bargaining over salaries has been shaped by these painful realities.
UFF and the FIU administration are very close in terms of total dollars to fund salaries. We differ on how those dollars would be distributed. Both our current proposals would use some of the available funds for raises for all employees who received at least satisfactory evaluations last year, and some of the money for one-time merit awards distributed according to departmental merit policies. UFF proposes to put more of the money into raises. The administration proposes to put more of the money into one-time merit awards. We hope that this difference can be quickly resolved.
Allocation of Research Space
Last year, UFF demanded that the FIU administration bargain over new policies for the allocation of research space announced in January 2008. UFF has proposed new contract language that would give faculty reasonable assurances that research labs would not abruptly be taken away, even as university priorities change. UFF’s proposal would protect tenure-earning faculty from losing lab space during their tenure-earning period. It would protect productive faculty from losing research space if they have received satisfactory evaluations of their performance of research assignments in 3 of the last 6 years. It would protect faculty on leaves of absence from losing research space when they return to their jobs.
UFF recognizes the university’s need to insure that available space is fully utilized, but demands that changes in policies must be reasonable and fair. It is time for the administration to engage in good-faith bargaining over this very serious matter that affects the careers of so many members of the UFF bargaining unit. This month, almost a year after UFF made its first proposal to resolve this matter, the administration finally put its first response on the table. The administration’s proposal is far short of what is needed to resolve this issue, but UFF is encouraged that we are at last engaged in serious negotiations. We will work to resolve remaining differences over salaries and fair allocation of research space so that we can soon send a new, three-year contract to our bargaining unit for ratification .
Membership equals bargaining power. If you have not yet joined UFF, we need you now.