Archive for the ‘Legal’ Category

Collective Bargaining Agreement 2010-13 now in effect

Thursday, October 7th, 2010

The Board of Trustees ratified the 2010-13 Collective Bargaining Agreement between the BOT and the United Faculty of Florida, and it is now in effect. To read a human-friendly version of the new CBA, head to an experiment in an annotated online CBA.


Tampa Academic-Affairs room capacities

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009

The attached spreadsheet lists the maximum occupancies for a number of Tampa classrooms listed by USF Central Space. This is not a complete list of classrooms at USF or even on the Tampa campus.


Everyone at USF benefits from faculty union’s arbitration victory

Monday, July 6th, 2009

Late today, USF sent staff and faculty the following memo from Provost Ralph Wilcox:

As you may recall, the University of South Florida implemented a mandatory Winter Break in 2008 during a time of fiscal uncertainty and following the loss of more than 500 vacant faculty and staff positions. Given the necessity to reduce financial obligations and balance the budget, the mandatory annual leave was considered a far better option for employees than the use of furloughs and/or layoffs imposed by other universities.

USF has decided to re-credit 3 days of annual leave that were taken during the Winter Break in 2008. Any faculty member or employee, who was charged those 3 days of annual leave during the university’s mandated closing, will have the days credited back to their current leave account. This is a fair and equitable action consistent with a recent arbitration decision between USF and the United Faculty of Florida. That decision applied to in-unit faculty under 12-month contracts. However, USF’s leadership has decided that the only fair action is to extend the restoration to ALL eligible employees.

The University has engaged in communications on such challenging matters in the past. Going forward, it will be important to maintain our communication since we will not have the flexibility that we have enjoyed in the past given the difficult budget realities of today. This decision will prompt us to explore alternative strategies to balance USF’s budget in the future.

The good news, however, bears repeating. Because of the many measures USF took in 2008 to reduce costs, our budget is relatively stable today as we enter the 2009-2010 fiscal year. Our actions last year, together with the infusion of federal budget stabilization funds, have made it possible for USF to enter the next academic year without the kind of programmatic and personnel cuts that others have endured. Let us all hope that this remains the case. Both the president and I will be writing shortly to describe the strategic planning and budgeting actions that will support USF’s continued and remarkable progress.

A few personal remarks, if I may. First, the university made the right choice today, to broaden the impact of the arbitration decision so that everyone benefits. As has happened often in the past, the faculty at USF can help set a floor for other employees, and that’s a good thing both for employees and for the university’s long-term interest.

Second, I am not surprised by how the administration’s language tries to paper over the fundamental mistake it made, to try to dismiss the bargaining authority of UFF and other employee unions. This is a continuing pattern at USF, and it is not in the university’s long-term interest for upper-level administrators or the trustees to try to circumvent bargaining. For the past decade, communication between the administration and all its employees (faculty and staff) has been a consistent weakness. As I told the Tribune’s reporter, Lindsay Peterson, President Genshaft could have picked up the phone and called me any time in the past two years to discuss the financial troubles of USF and the future, and she hasn’t.


Arbitration award in annual-leave grievance

Friday, July 3rd, 2009

On July 2, USF and UFF received the arbitrator’s decision in the grievances filed over the University’s taking three days of leave last December from all annual-leave-accruing employees. Here is the heart of the decision:

The University, under the terms of the collective bargaining agreement, cannot require bargaining unit employees to use annual leave. The University, under the terms of the collective bargaining agreement, does not have the contractual right or the statutory right to require bargaining unit employees to take accrued annual leave. The required use of annual leave resulted in the employees being required to waive benefits provided by the Agreement, and to suffer a loss or diminution of contractual rights for which they were otherwise eligible. Specifically, the employee’s contractual rights and benefits to accrue the days for their use in accordance with the provisions of the contract…. After full consideration of the circumstances, this arbitrator agrees that the remedy must be for the University to reinstate the three days of accrued annual leave to the members of the bargaining unit who were required to take them.

The arbitrator has ordered the university to return three days of leave to all in the UFF bargaining unit who lost them in December. This is the result of the grievance process at its final step: a binding arbitration, and in this case, the arbitrator ruled that the United Faculty of Florida was correct in its interpretation of the contract, that the university did not have the authority to take three days of leave without bargaining a change at the table. Members’ dues pay for contract enforcement, and it is in the grievance process that UFF can hold the university accountable when it violates the contract.

Chapter grievance chair Mark Klisch processed the grievances at the local level; UFF’s executive director, Ed Mitchell, was the chapter’s representative at the arbitration hearing, and chief negotiator Robert Welker helped with preparation for the arbitration hearing.

Arbitrator Cary Singletary decision text, July 2002



FRS Pension Funds Decline – Benefits Not Impacted

Friday, March 13th, 2009

From FEA:

As expected, with a stock market in steep decline, the value of the FRS pension fund has declined to $120.4 billion. This represents 93% of the liabilities or promised benefits. Ennis Knupp and Associates, a financial consulting firm, made this report yesterday at a meeting of the Investment Advisory Council of the State Board of Administration (SBA). The SBA invests Florida’s FRS funds.

Fortunately for retirees and our members, not all of the money would be withdrawn at once, meaning there is no risk that the fund will go bankrupt or that Floridians won’t receive their benefits. Remember, there is a liability for any employee who has vested (six years service) no matter their current age. Because FRS and other pension plans will not pay out every penny at once, many state pensions are far from fully funded. Florida’s is actually considered among the strongest in the country.

A Standard and Poor’s report on state pension funds using 2007 data, ranked Florida as the third best fund in the country, behind Oregon and North Carolina. Illinois, Oklahoma and Rhode Island were at the bottom of the list, with their pensions all funded below 62 percent.

From 1985 to 1997, Florida’s pension fund was underfunded, but rose from a 54.3 percent funding level to 91.3 percent. It then rode the economic boom of the 1990s and early 2000s, and at its highest point in 2000, the pension was funded at 118.1 percent of liabilities.


Why UFF watches what happens with layoffs

Thursday, May 22nd, 2008

The following is from the May 15 layoff process timeline under notification periods:

Faculty ‐ Minimum 90 days notice or end of current semester if in teaching capacity (no later than 15 days following the official close of Fall Semester) [emphasis added]

The collective bargaining agreement stipulates that “where circumstances permit,” the layoff notice for in-unit faculty and professional employees should be six months for those with less than 3 years’ service and one year for everyone else. There are important exceptions: those in visiting lines and on soft money do not have a right to notice of nonreappointment when either the immediate visiting term ends or grant support ends. But given the extensive unrestricted assets of the university (even if one accepts at face value every claim made by USF yesterday) and the relatively small number of those anticipated to be laid off from the UFF-USF bargaining unit, we think these are precisely the circumstances that permit the default layoff notice.


Cuttings of the poisonous tree

Friday, April 4th, 2008

In 2000, Los Angeles prosecutor Richard Ceballos reported to his superior in the District Attorney’s office that the Los Angeles Sherriff’s Department had relied on an inaccurate affidavit to obtain a search warrant. There was sound, fury, and office politics, and subsequently Ceballos was reassigned, transferred, and denied a promotion. He sued, and the case – Garcetti v. Ceballos – was resolved by a 5-4 U.S. Supreme Court decision in which the majority ruled that Ceballos did not enjoy First Amendment protection for statements he made as part of his official duties.



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.


External reviewers for tenure

Thursday, March 20th, 2008

USF is now asking faculty going up for tenure and promotion to submit names of potential reviewers to their chairs earlier than in the past. If you are up for tenure or promotion in the fall, you should begin your research into potential reviewers now, and look for a members-only tenure workshop or external-reviewers mini-workshop announcement in the next week. The following information is included in the workshop, but the tenure workshop includes a great deal more about the identification of external reviewers.

The USF tenure and promotion guidelines say that faculty and their chairs can both suggest external reviewers, and they should jointly select external reviewers. If there is disagreement, each gets to select half.

If faculty present a credible list of potential reviewers to their chairs, they make the chair’s job easier and give faculty the best opportunity to have input on the selection of external reviewers. A credible list includes at least 6-8 potential reviewers with the following information for each:

  • Name
  • Current affiliation and rank
  • Any notable professional society offices held or awards won
  • Current contact information (e-mail)
  • A brief description of why this individual would be a good reviewer
  • An explicit statement addressing any potential conflicts or an explicit statement that there is no potential conflict (e.g., “My primary contact with Peter Schickele was at the last three P.D.Q. Retrospaetzle Symposia, and he was the chair on one 2007 panel where I presented ‘The Lost Manuscript of “Three Hands Viola and the Half-Blood Piccolo.”‘”).

Below is the language from the 1998 T&P guidelines:

The department chair ordinarily will include in the tenure and promotion packet a minimum of three letters (but not exceeding six from external reviewers who are expert in the individual’s field or a related scholarly field. The candidate and the department chair will suggest external reviewers. The department Tenure and Promotion Committee may also suggest external reviewers. These reviewers should have no significant relationship to the candidate (e.g., major professor, co-author), unless there are mitigating circumstances hat would indicate otherwise (e.g., to review scholarship so specialized that few expert reviewers exist). The chair and the candidate will jointly select the reviewers. In the event of disagreement each party will elect one-half the number of qualified reviewers to be utilized. Letters from external reviewers should be in the candidate’s file prior to the final recommendations by the Tenure and Promotion Committee. All solicited letters which are received must be included in the candidate’s file.


USF stops asking for SSNs in public ID card centers

Tuesday, February 19th, 2008

A few years ago, Parking Services stopped using Social Security Numbers in managing its accounts. Last month, a faculty member was asked for her SSN to get a new ID card. She e-mailed the chapter, which asked the administration to look into it. The response today from Sandy Lovins, Associate Vice President of Human Resources:

We did find out that the Card Center was taking social security numbers in order to generate an ID card (it was a field required in the system that they are using). However, we’ve been able to configure a change in their system and feed required information in from the GEMS system so that social security numbers are no longer needed. The Employee ID number is now officially being used. No longer will the Card Center staff be asking for social security number.

The UFF membership form now gives the option of providing the employee ID instead of the SSN, but includes the SSN option because many faculty know their SSN but not their employee ID. One of the concerns about asking for Social Security Numbers in public situations (whether in parking services or at a card center) is that they are public: You’re in a line, and someone asks you for the SSN. Anyone else in line could overhear your name and SSN, and then they have what they need to generate a false identity. If you are asked for your SSN at USF in a public context, gently refuse to, explain why not, and insist on using your employee ID instead.