Members of the Faculty Collective Bargaining Unit,

We have had three sessions at the bargaining table since the Board of Trustees meeting on November 22. I know many of you are wondering whether there has been any change in the administration’s approach. Answer: not much.

Most of the last two sessions have been taken up with the article on tenure. You will remember that the administration proposed adding “persistently uncollegial behavior” to “misconduct” and “incompetence”, as grounds for dismissing a tenured faculty member. To show that they heard you at the Board of Trustees meeting, they have modified this phrase to read: “persistently uncollegial behavior, in the performance of a faculty member’s duties within a department”. As you might imagine, our team has a hard time understanding how this is much of an improvement.

On academic freedom, they have put on the table a revised article which no longer claims management’s “exclusive” right “to determine or change curriculum,…as well as the materials, processes,…work schedules and methods of instruction”. On the other hand they have submitted a new version of the Preamble where they state their commitment to academic freedom, and they continue to conclude it with “This Preamble is a statement of intent and policy and is, therefore, not subject to Article 8 Grievance and Arbitration Procedure.” Fine policy, but if the university violates their own policy, they don’t want us to have any recourse but hiring an attorney and suing the university.

Nor is there any hint that they intend to abandon their radical attempt to remove from the bargaining agreement all of those protections and rights that we enjoyed for 27 years—equitable assignments, fair evaluations, leaves, promotions, discipline, non-discrimination, non-reappointment, benefits, intellectual property rights, etc. Apparently they still intend to put these only into university policy, if they are retained at all, where enforcing them will require hiring an attorney, rather than using the grievance and arbitration procedure.

Nor do they seem inclined to work any harder to reach an agreement. As you know, we have proposed meeting every Friday for a full working day until an agreement is reached. The chief negotiator for the administration, however, said “I’m not going to do an all-day”. When we asked why, he responded, “I don’t function well in all-day sessions.”

We wonder if anyone in the upper reaches of the administration understands how close the Faculty Senate is to approving a resolution of no-confidence in President Maidique. The publicity this would bring to the university would not help the chances of the proposed medical school, and would no doubt have many other negative consequences. The easiest way for the president to show that he is in touch with faculty sentiment is to instruct his bargaining team to step up their effort, return to the previous bargaining agreement as the basis for negotiations, and reach an agreement soon. The faculty have been very patient working without a bargaining agreement for nearly two years. But our patience is not endless.

Meanwhile, the UFF put on the table last Monday a Memorandum of Understanding on Salary Increases. When bargaining began in May, both sides agreed that salary negotiations would be left for last. But that was when we assumed that, as FIU’s General Counsel promised the Board of Trustees in June, “bargaining can be finished by the end of the summer”. Since many faculty have been without a raise since the 2.5% increase won by the UFF as a result of the last state-wide negotiations in 2002, we don’t see why faculty should wait any longer.

The Memorandum—designed as a stop-gap measure until a full salary package can be negotiated—proposes that faculty in the bargaining unit immediately receive a cost of living increase of 4.5% of their base salary, and a productivity increase of 5%. In addition, faculty awarded promotions last spring would receive increases of 11%, with all of the increases retroactive to the first pay period of 2004-2005. Market equity and merit increases would be held for later bargaining before the final agreement is signed. The administration team had no immediate response to the proposal.

The UFF Executive Council met last Friday and discussed how to keep up the pressure on the administration to do the right thing at the table. We decided to call on faculty to wear either their “UFF: An FIU Tradition” button, or the “FIU: Bargain Now” stickers, to graduation ceremonies, as a reminder to the administration that faculty are not exactly pleased with either the administration team’s work ethic or its proposals.

Further, we will call on faculty to participate in informational picketing on and near campus, starting in January. We will let you know the details after the winter break.

Finally, Bruce Nissen’s final report on faculty and administrator numbers and salaries (now with graphs) is available, as well as the Memorandum of Understanding on Salaries.

Happy Holidays!


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