By Eric Dwyer
UFF-FIU Chapter President
Bargaining: hoorays and howevers!
The UFF-FIU bargaining team met with FIU’s administrative team on January 30.
Both teams acknowledged sincere wishes to be done. At the end of the day,
the two teams left feeling “they were close.”
UFF-FIU recognizes and appreciates the administration’s abandoning a desire to ratify
our agreement 45 days post ratification. Hooray!
However, the proposed begin date is only retroactive to January 1, 2017, a disappointment
in that we are bargaining for salaries for the academic year beginning this past
July 1, 2016 – a 6-month difference.
UFF-FIU is delighted that the administration has accepted our idea of a fixed amount
that can help address gross salary inequities within the bargaining unit. The administration
has offered an increase of $800 or a 1% (whichever is higher) raise to the base salary for
those with satisfactory evaluations. The administration has also offered a 0.5% merit raise.
However, the administration’s proposal (assuming folks get both the across-the board and merit
raises) does not yet cover all the faculty for inflation
(approximately 1.9% over the last year).
UFF-FIU was surprised, in a truly good way, that the administration returned to our
conversation on reimbursement for dissertation and thesis work over the summer. The
administration therefore offered a compensation of $2000 or a ½-course release per doctoral
student following their graduation.
However, while the bargaining team was thrilled that the conversation regarding dissertation
work and compensation was reopened, we still argue, fundamentally, that faculty should reject
the notion of working without pay. We remain concerned that the administration refuses to
address the concept that faculty on 9-month contracts are expected to direct Master’s theses
(not part of the proposal) and PhD dissertations in the summer without compensation, despite
graduate students’ registration and tuition payment for thesis and dissertation credits.
If the agreement this go-round is only for post-dissertation compensation, the union is in the
unsavory position of strongly recommending that faculty make plans with their graduate students
such that they cannot expect faculty assistance between mid-May and mid-August. We argue that
working for free sets a poor example of professionalism for our future colleagues. The executive
committee has also reported in our EC meetings numerous examples of graduate students who seemingly
understand, accept, and plan accordingly, given this maxim. Their understanding however does
not extend to accepting the situation out of hand; after all, they should expect service if t
hey’ve paid tuition. At present, the puzzle pieces marked “student registration” and
“faculty compensation” remain unfitted.
Negotiations are to resume on February 22.