As we continue to navigate the impacts of COVID-19 and act to minimize its disruption to our students and our own work, it is important that faculty rights established in the Collective Bargaining Agreement are not overlooked. With this in mind, the UFF-FIU bargaining team and the FIU Administration bargaining team have agreed to a second Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).
This MOU restates our previous agreement on instructional assignment, evaluations, and course ownership, and adds language on research evaluations and access to research spaces, as well as details the process for requesting a pause/extension of the tenure/promotion clock.
Apologies in advance for the long message, but we want to communicate the parameters of the MOU in detail and directly to the faculty.
During the current health emergency, UFF-FIU and the Board of Trustees are committed to maintaining a productive and efficient operation of the University in a safe and healthy environment. State, federal, and international health organizations recommend social distancing as the most effective immediate response to this pandemic. This agreement acknowledges those recommendations. To this end, we agree that the following terms and conditions shall remain in effect until the state of Florida declares an end to the emergency, escalates the emergency, or August 10, 2020. During this period, the University agrees to consult with a representative from UFF-FIU on its crisis management response.
1. Faculty migrated all Spring classes to remote instruction starting on Thursday March 12, 2020. All classes scheduled for Summer A, B, or C sessions will be conducted remotely as well. The University will continue to provide support and training for remote instruction.
2. Faculty shall maintain ownership of all course content, even if it is presented in an online format.
3. Remote instruction and online presentations as mandated by the University shall not negatively impact supervisory review or annual evaluations. However, they may be used to positive effect.
4. The presentation of course content will be affected dramatically by the shift to online platforms. Therefore, student course evaluations shall not negatively impact annual evaluations. However, they may be used to positive effect. There shall be no adverse action arising from the sudden online transition of classes that were not designed for this format.
5. Moving to temporary remote instruction does not set precedents for or inherently consent to future remote instructional work. The decision to move to remote instruction arises only from the unique circumstances arising from the COVID-19 global pandemic.
6. The COVID-19 health emergency and its many ramifications will undoubtedly affect scholarship and creative activity for faculty. As such, any lack of research productivity as impacted by this situation for faculty with research assignments during AY19-20 shall not negatively impact annual evaluations. Faculty are encouraged to report their prior scholarship and creative activity which can be used to positive effect.
7. Request for access to different laboratories and research spaces will be reviewed and communicated following university processes established by ORED and AA. These processes are based on the best interests in the safety of the faculty and staff as conditions allow.
Tenure & Promotion
8. Tenure Clock Pause and Extension: As we are still uncertain as to the length of the COVID-19 health emergency, the University recognizes that many pre-tenure faculty may not yet know the impact it will have on their scholarship and creative activities. To ensure affected faculty’s tenure progression is not negatively impacted from the sudden and substantial disruptions to their research productivity, and to ensure faculty whose research productivity has not been substantially disrupted are not required to extend their clock, the following process has been created to facilitate changes to the current tenure-clock timeline:
a) Pre-tenure faculty who are concerned about their scholarship and creative activities have or will potentially be substantially impacted by the current health emergency may request a temporary pause of their tenure-clock. Such requests shall be made to their department chair no later than August 10, 2020.
b) A temporary pause does not necessarily indicate a request for or approval of a tenure clock extension. Instead, it identifies potentially impacted faculty and begins the process for potential tenure clock extensions.
c) During the period of the temporary pause, faculty will consult with their department chair about the impact the health emergency has had on their scholarship and creative activity and if a tenure-clock extension is both warranted and advisable.
d) Faculty have until December 31, 2020 to either stop the pause on their tenure clock or to request a formal extension of their tenure clock due to the reasons related to the COVID-19 health emergency.
e) No negative action shall be taken against a faculty member who requests a temporary pause and does not formally request a tenure-clock extension. Their tenure clock will continue as normal and no time will be lost due to the temporary pause.
f) Faculty who wish to request a tenure-clock extension should follow established processes outlined in the Tenure and Promotion Manual.
9. Future Promotion Decisions for Both Tenure-Earning and Non-tenure Earning Faculty: Faculty AY19-20 annual evaluations shall not negatively impact third year reviews or future tenure and/or promotion recommendations from Department Committees, Department Chairs, College Committees, Deans, the Provost, and the President. They may be used for positive effect.