Members of the Faculty Collective Bargaining Unit,

On October 1, the state employees’ raise of 3% approved by the Florida Legislature last spring went into effect. The efforts of the statewide United Faculty of Florida to lobby for these increases and to mobilize our members to contact legislators last spring and win this raise are recounted in the UFF Update which I have already sent you: UFF Update. These raises should have begun to show up in last week’s paycheck, though the impact of two full weeks of work won’t be evident until the check of October 27. In addition to the 3% legislative increase, UFF-FIU is currently bargaining for additional salary increases for 2006-2007.

On promotion raises, both UFF and the administration have made identical proposals concerning raises for those promoted last spring, with both sides proposing to continue what was ratified in the new bargaining agreement: 10% raises for those promoted to Associate Professor and 12% for those promoted to Full Professor, all to be retroactive to the beginning of the academic year in August. UFF has therefore proposed, and the administration has accepted, that we sign a Memorandum of Understanding to allow these raises to be distributed as soon as possible, while we continue the rest of bargaining. We hope that the promotion increases will appear very soon in the paychecks of those who have already been promoted and deserve to enjoy the rewards of their hard work.

The 3% legislated increase will only partially make up for the increase in the cost of living of 5.1% in Miami-Ft. Lauderdale from August, 2005, to August, 2006. See the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. Therefore, UFF has proposed a 2.1% across-the-board cost of living adjustment to make sure that–added to the 3% from the legislature–the real purchasing power of our salaries is not eroded by inflation.

Once cost of living adjustments are made, so that no one takes a cut in real wages, the UFF’s proposal turns to the problem of market equity–the fact that some in our bargaining unit have fallen way behind the median salaries in their disciplines as measured by studies at Oklahoma State University (OSU), Association of Research Libraries (ARL), or other relevant measures. We don’t think it is reasonable for those who put down roots in South Florida, perhaps to raise a family, and devote themselves to FIU, to continually fall behind the median in their profession. Those working hard to make FIU a better place should not be punished by having their salaries fall behind their profession’s norms. Threatening to leave FIU should not be required to prevent one’s salary from stagnating. Therefore we are proposing an increase for all those who are more than 20% below the OSU or ARL medians.

UFF also is proposing merit increases, to be decided by departments according to criteria decided democratically in each academic unit or department. Such merit increases allow individual departments to reward meritorious performance and achievements.

UFF proposes that all of the above raises be retroactive to the beginning of the academic year.

UFF has also proposed that the administration, as last year, would be allowed to use some funds at its discretion to award increases for verified counter-offers, compression/inversion, special achievements like Faculty Senate awards and summer research awards, increased duties and responsibilities, litigation settlements, and so forth.

We believe we have constructed a reasonable proposal based on a set of priorities that is fair. Over the past two years, bargaining locally at FIU, UFF has been able to achieve raises that kept us even with the higher than average cost of living increases in South Florid–something that previous statewide bargaining could not easily address. We must continue that progress.

The members of our bargaining unit have made it clear that it is not fair to expect some employees to take a cut in real salary dollars to fund raises for others. This university can and should plan for both in its budget–maintaining the real purchasing power of our salaries, plus raises to reward performance. That is the principle at the foundation of UFF-FIU’s salary proposals. That is the principle that we believe must be reflected in any salary agreement we reach. If you have not yet joined the United Faculty of Florida, a membership form may be downloaded at http://www.uff-fiu.org/nindex.php/uff.form.html While we are on the subject of salaries, let me point out that the 3% raise that UFF efforts helped win from the legislature, since it adds to your base salary, will pay your UFF dues for the rest of your life, with 2% left over!

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