Archive for April 1st, 2008

Rumor quashing

Tuesday, April 1st, 2008

Given the uncertainties around university budgets, the following is intended to quash several rumors as firmly as possible:

  1. Summer salaries are pro-rated in the collective bargaining agreement. Neither administrators nor faculty can negotiate any variation from this by themselves. That means that a chair cannot offer a faculty a course on condition that the faculty agrees to be paid less than normal. If you hear of such a situation, please contact the chapter immediately.
  2. Using or reading the term “financial exigency” does not change the terms of the collective bargaining agreement. Right now, UFF and USF are in negotiations over the entire contract, and if the administration and Trustees wanted to save money by changing the contract, they have the ability to propose changes at the table. Thus far, the administration/Trustees’ representatives have proposed two changes that represent marginal savings, and the UFF team has proposed addressing one of those interests in combination with interests that the chapter has.
  3. Layoff priorities are specified in the collective bargaining agreement. On this point, it appears that the administration and UFF are in agreement on the importance of avoiding layoffs: at the last faculty meeting, President Genshaft said that given her experience with retrenchments at other institutions, she would be horrified to lay off tenured and tenure-track faculty, and I believe her.
  4. Furloughs cannot be imposed without collective bargaining, and UFF does not see any need or reason to have furloughs at USF.

At this point, it is in everyone’s best interests to work together to reduce the damage done by budget cuts, and one way we can do so is to avoid spreading rumors.


The real issue with DROP double-dipping

Tuesday, April 1st, 2008

In the last six weeks, longtime St. Petersburg Times reporter Lucy Morgan has reported on what she calls double-dipping, or public employees who returned to work after committing to the state’s DROP program that gave experienced public employees an incentive to retire (retire, be paid for working another five years after the eligibility for the program started, and have pensions for that work-time go into a secure account for that last chunk of time working). Morgan’s language of double-dipping and triple-dipping implies that the problem with the DROP program is that the rules aren’t very strict on returning to employment after retirement.

The real problem with the DROP program is that the state legislature thought it could be clever, operating government on the cheap and discounting the value of experienced public servants. First, the legislature thought it could dangle an incentive in front of experienced public employees, get them to retire, and replace them with much cheaper, younger workers. Then, the legislature discovered that there was a shortage of people willing to teach and do other important jobs because they were taking early retirement through DROP, so they created an exception for areas with documented shortages. Then the legislature expanded those exceptions.

And now Lucy Morgan is pointing out that a program designed to operate government on the cheap is costing the state in the long run.



Secret tenure rules

Tuesday, April 1st, 2008

This week’s story of Baylor University’s administration, which reportedly changed its internal expectations for tenure without telling faculty, is one more reason why having a union is a sensible protection for faculty: no secret rules here. UFF will not and cannot guarantee anyone tenure, but we can guarantee that you will know the rules, and we offer tenure workshops to help tenure-earning faculty show what they’ve done.


10 Best Things about the Budget Crunch

Tuesday, April 1st, 2008

10. As the thermostat settings rise, administrators come to work in shorts.

9. The new music building gets completed 2 months after Governor Crist approves putting plagiarizing students on chain gangs.

8. Trustees agree to provide parity-based domestic partner health insurance “just as soon as Blue Cross/Blue Shield decides not to cover anything anyway.”

7. New T&P guidelines guarantee tenure to assistant professors in physical sciences “if they can figure out how to win the lottery every time.”

6. In collective bargaining, in lieu of raises, University proposes Green Stamps.

5. Public Health faculty with <1.0 FTE are guaranteed a full salary “if they can figure out how to win the lottery every time.”

4. Joint venture with Seminoles to work the Women’s Final Four allows students to place bets through Blackboard.

3. 1,000,000 Green Stamps and you get your choice of SOC or the old Marshall Center. (Environmental retrofitting is your own problem.)

2. Library gets approval to start charging $1,000 per day late fines.

1. 2,500,000 Green Stamps = Lifsey House.