United Faculty of Florida-Florida Atlantic University Chapter
January 9, 2014
By Chris Robé
Happy New Year! As you emerge from your eggnog stupor and candy yam bloat, your friendly faculty union prepares the way for a better 2014.
The union has received a series of questions regarding summer rates, so I wanted to clarify the matter here.
The second summer course has been a point of contention for administration for the past few years. They and many of the deans claimed that a 12.5% rate made a second summer course for in-unit faculty either increasingly difficult to sustain or never sustainable in the first place, depending upon which college you are located within.
UFF started bargaining a lower price for a second summer course with the caveat that our bargaining contract language guarantees bargaining unit faculty receive the first offer for a second summer course, something absent from prior contract language. The new language states: “If all bargaining unit employees qualified to teach a class have already been offered two classes to teach or an equivalent assignment, the University may offer the supplemental summer appointment to anyone who is qualified (e.g., adjuncts).” If you read the old contract, it only states “one” class.
We initially suggested the second summer course occur at a 10% rate or that we place a cap on the amount faculty could earn for two summer courses. The administration instead suggested that bargaining unit faculty be offered a higher percentage of the adjunct rates for a second course. After much negotiation, faculty rates were determined roughly at 175% of the adjunct rate, give or take depending upon the college.
These rates, however, are only minimums. As it states in the contract: “Second assigned course: At the minimum rate set in Appendix H, but not to exceed the rate paid for the first course. 12.5%.” Any dean can up these rates for their college as long as they don’t exceed 12.5% for a second summer course.
UFF understands that faculty in some colleges were teaching two courses for 12.5% each for the last two years. The dean’s in those colleges can continue to offer the same rates under the new contract if deemed feasible. Faculty should continue to advocate for higher pay within their colleges, and UFF will continue to try to improve the rates for second summer courses in the future for all faculty. This portion of the collective bargaining agreement will be automatically reopened for Summer 2015.
The thinking in accepting the deal was: we can either hold out on a 12.5% second course rate that was benefiting an ever-decreasing number of faculty or we could accept a lower rate for a second summer course that was guaranteed to be offered to all bargaining unit faculty first and at a minimum rate that would not immediately simply replicate adjunct pay.
Hence Appendix H and the changes in language for Article 8.
August 27, 2013. Defending academic freedom, New bargaining agreement, Addressing disparities in faculty salaries, and more!
Welcome back. Prepare to depressurize as you reenter the atmosphere of Planet FAU where alternative realities proliferate. Your friendly faculty union has been busy terraforming over the summer to make your world more habitable.
We have been diligently defending academic freedom throughout the summer due to an overblown incident involving one of our instructors, Dr. Deandre Poole, in a classroom exercise. (See http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2013/04/01/interview-professor-center-jesus-debate-florida-atlantic for more details). Not only was the faculty union the first to vigorously defend academic freedom on campus and draw it to the attention of the national press, but it was also instrumental in bringing this issue before the Faculty Senate by asking to reconvene the Committee on Academic Freedom and Due Process, which had been defunct for years.
The Committee then met for several months to compile a report criticizing the mismanagement of the incident by the university administration. (Read the report at http://www.fau.edu/ufsgov/Final%20AFDPC%20Report%206-24-2013.pdf). Because of the Committee’s conscientious work and the union’s determined defense of academic freedom, the instructor was finally rehired and the curriculum returned to faculty control. The incident reveals the strength of faculty when the union and faculty senate work together to clarify and strengthen the institutional values of the university.
After more than a year of intense bargaining, we have finally ratified the 2012-2015 Collective Bargaining Agreement. Some of the highlights include the addition of paid parental leave, partner benefits, and a raise structure for instructors.
We will soon begin bargaining for this year. Our main priority will be faculty raises. The administration has repeatedly stated during the spring semester that money is available for raises. Since we haven’t had a raise since 2010, we have fallen far beneath the pay of our sister institutions across the United States. According to the American Association of University Professors, FAU full professor salaries on average lag behind their peers at other institutions by $18,000 and associate professors on average lag by $6,000. (See http://chronicle.com/article/faculty-salaries-data-2012/131431#id=133669). This reveals the inversion and compression of salary that accrues the longer faculty remain with our institution. Such an illogical salary structure discourages loyalty and long-term commitment from faculty who often feel increasingly exploited the longer they stay at FAU.
Even more troubling, according to Florida Trend, FAU administration has grown 1.5% from 2007 to 2011 while new full-time tenure-track lines were cut by 40% during the same time period. As a result, faculty workloads have increased in regards to teaching and service while our salaries have stagnated. We will soon be releasing an independent study of faculty salaries compared to administration salaries for the last five years at FAU in order to document the relative allocation of resources.
In regard to the promotional structure established for instructors, the union is requesting assistance from instructors who have recently been promoted to help lead a fall portfolio workshop for instructors applying for promotion in the upcoming academic year. We would like for you to model your portfolio as well as explain any issues that arose while going through the process and field any questions that faculty might have. If you are interested in participating, please contact Chris Robé at email@example.com. Portfolios are due in the Provost’s office by February 14, 2014. They will be due in your departments even earlier. Be sure to check with your department head about his/her specific deadline.
We will be holding a consultation this fall. Two main concerns are following up on academic freedom with the administration to ensure their commitment to this central principle and addressing the negative effects of larger class caps on teaching, learning, and student retention. If you have other concerns you would like the union to address during consultation, let us know: firstname.lastname@example.org.
New faculty luncheon will be held on September 27 from 11:30 am-1:30 PM in Live Oak Room A. All faculty are welcome to attend. Members should feel free to bring non-members and introduce them to our fine union folk. We will also be holding monthly happy hours at The Irishmen Pub, 1745 NW 2nd Ave. Stay tuned for updates regarding its dates. We hope to see you at our upcoming functions. The union, after all, is not simply about representing the collective faculty voice, but also gathering faculty together to share ideas and concerns in order to better implement our vision of what FAU should be. If you haven’t joined yet, download an application at http://www.uff-fau.org/?cat=3 and send it in to Chris Robé, CU 214, School of Communication, Boca Raton Campus or take it to the next union function you attend and hand it to one of the union officers. Look forward to seeing you soon.
June 21, 2013. FAU reappoints Deandre Poole for 2013-14 academic year
The union reports that Dr. Deandre Poole has signed a summer contract and a full-year contract as of today. This is a huge victory for faculty and FAU in general that reinforces academic freedom on campus.
The union would like to thank all faculty who had spoken-up regarding academic freedom at faculty senate and in public forums, the members of the Academic Freedom and Due Process Committee who diligently researched the events and the administration’s response to the controversy, and those who joined the protest for academic freedom. We must remain vigilant regarding this issue, but this re-assignment of a gifted instructor does not just benefit FAU students, but all faculty in having their academic freedom rights upheld in the classroom.
We should discuss the Academic Freedom Committee’s report this fall during faculty senate to more thoroughly analyze its discoveries and ways in which we can further guarantee academic freedom at FAU.
If you haven’t joined the union yet, you should do so. The union was at the forefront of addressing the issues of academic freedom on campus by bringing it to the faculty senate’s attention and asking for the reconvening of the Committee on Academic Freedom and Due Process, which had been defunct for years. The union had also drawn this issue to a wider public forum through its vigilant interaction with the local and national press. Without the union doing so, it seems safe to assume the outcome would have likely been rather different.
A strong union protects all of us better. Download the membership form (PDF) and send to Chris Robe’, CU 214, FAU, Boca Raton. You may also learn more about the benefits of UFF membership here.
March 31, 2013. A Message from UFF-FAU President Chris Robé
To All Concerned Faculty,
Many of you are aware of the recent controversy concerning an instructor who conducted a classroom exercise that, according to the textbook he used, would enable the class to “discuss the importance of symbols in culture.” The incident has been grossly mischaracterized by most local and national news as the “Jesus stomping incident” and poorly explained by the FAU administration. The assignment from the textbook Intercultural Communication states:
This exercise is a bit sensitive, but really drives home the point that even though symbols are arbitrary, they take on very strong and emotional meanings. Have the students write the name JESUS in big letters on a piece of paper. Ask the students to stand up and put the paper on the floor in front of them with the name facing up. Ask the students to think about it for a moment. After a brief period of silence, instruct them to step on the paper. Most will hesitate. Ask why they can’t step on the paper. Discuss the importance of symbols in culture.
As we all understand, academic freedom serves as the linchpin of the university. According to FAU’s faculty handbook: “Academic freedom and responsibility are essential to the full development of a true university and apply to teaching, research and creative activities. An employee engaged in such activities shall be free to cultivate a spirit of inquiry and scholarly criticism and to examine ideas in an atmosphere of freedom and confidence.”
Although it is never the intention of a faculty member to offend his/her students, at times controversial material might unintentionally do so. As a result, we then use the classroom to discuss the controversy in a forthright and honest manner. But offense alone never justifies immediate censorship of the material and/or the pedagogy. Galileo offended critics by claiming the earth was not the center of the solar system. Some groups continue to be offended by evolutionary theory. Offense, although to be avoided, sometimes accompanies the advancement of knowledge.
We find it outrageous that critics of Dr. Poole immediately condemn his exercise without fully knowing the facts. When the university administration unilaterally claims that such an assignment will not be taught again without the consultation of the faculty member involved as well as the faculty at large, they shred the principles of academic freedom that legitimate the existence of the university and guide genuine scholarly inquiry.
If Dr. Poole is dismissed from his teaching position for this incident, more is lost than simply a stellar instructor who has routinely received high praise from his students and supervisors. Also lost will be the good faith of the faculty who placed their trust in an administration to defend the academic freedom that defines the university. Lost will be freedom of speech in the classroom to “present and discuss academic subjects, frankly and forthrightly, without fear of censorship,” as is enshrined in our collective bargaining agreement. Lost will be the future scholars who will no longer want to work at an institution whose credibility has been tarnished. Lost will be the current scholars who leave our institution for others that respect academic freedom.
It is time to defend academic freedom through the maelstrom of uninformed attacks since the controversy will eventually pass but the institution will remain. And the type of institution that remains will largely depend upon whether the core principles of academic freedom are preserved or not.
For further details on the story see:
September 1, 2012. Welcome back to the Idea Factory! What’s on the horizon for FAU faculty this coming fall.
Welcome back to the Idea Factory. The distant metallic sound you might hear is the sharpening of knives by some of our state overlords in Tallahassee in the hopes of gutting public education and unions once and for all. Our governor established a Blue Ribbon Task Force on State Higher Education Reform in May. According to the Tampa Bay Times, the panel’s main task is “to identify ways to make the state’s higher education systems more efficient.” This euphemism of “efficiency” hangs in the air like a toxic cloud barely covering the cost-cutting and privatizing of public education that lurks beneath it. We have seen efficiency at work in inflating class caps, gouging students for higher tuitions, increasing course loads, questioning the viability of tenure, and demonizing faculty and faculty unions.
We expect to see anti-union legislation making the rounds in Tallahassee again this year. Two bills likely to appear this year will eliminate payroll deduction of union dues and also decertify unions with less than 50% membership. At FAU we are currently hovering at 40%. We need to make our numbers 50% by the end of the academic year so that faculty can be adequately represented on the campus and within the state. You can print a union membership form at the bottom of the webpage: http://www.uff-fau.org/?p=16. Send it to Chris Robé CU 214 on the Boca campus.
On the state level, UFF’s lawsuit (through our affiliate, the Florida Education Association) regarding the 3% FRS deduction will be going before the state supreme court this fall. Although the defendants wanted to drag the case out, our attorneys fast-tracked it to the supreme court since we won an overwhelmingly positive verdict from a circuit court judge who decreed the deduction unconstitutional. If we win the following case, a challenge to the 2.5% ORP deduction is soon to follow. Remember, your union dues help pay for actions like this that protect your paycheck.
On the campus level, we have been bargaining since spring. More details are available on the flip-side of this broadsheet regarding our process. Some issues we have stressed are raises/equity (as always), parental leave, partner benefits, and promotional raises for instructors and lecturers.
Also, after receiving numerous complaints from faculty regarding internal SACS accreditation, UFF-FAU has compiled a report based on faculty comments and submitted it to the provost and others in charge of SACS accreditation on August 14. We are waiting to hear back from them to schedule a meeting regarding our concerns and recommendations. You can read the report on the UFF-FAU website (www.uff-fau.org).
The instructor/lecturer promotional structure has now been put in place. Your departments/schools should have determined the criteria for promotion last spring. If they have not, please let us know. UFF-FAU has contacted the provost to determine submission deadlines for instructor/lecturer promotional materials. We are still awaiting an answer. We will let you know as soon as we hear back from them. Also, we would like to hold a workshop for all instructors/lecturers going up for promotion this year this fall, depending upon the due date of materials.
The UFF-FAU new faculty luncheon will be held in the Board of Trustees’ Room (3rd floor Administration Building) on September 14, 11:30-1:30 PM. This is open to all faculty. We encourage you to bring new faculty and/or non-union members to the luncheon. UFF-FAU will update you on our actions as well as answer any questions you might have. Also, the statewide UFF Senate will be held in Tampa on September 22-23. This is open to all UFF senators, bargaining team members, and EC members. It serves as a valuable forum to network with other UFF chapters to compare issues and concerns.
UFF-FAU wants to hold a speaker series each semester. We are looking for faculty input on who to invite. The talks can range from pragmatic matters (e.g. “What are my retirement benefits?”) to broader concerns (e.g. “How is public education being eviscerated?”). Please email your suggestions to president(at)uff-fau.org.
We will also be releasing the administrative survey in the next few weeks. Be on the lookout.
Finally, we are always looking for faculty to get involved. Half of the union’s task is advocating on behalf of the faculty’s collective interests. But this advocacy becomes hollow if we don’t have faculty actively supporting the union by getting involved. The first step is joining. But the next step is participating in the union with whatever unique skills you possess. We can always use more bargainers, grievance representatives, recruiters, writers, artists, mathematicians, and the like. You can dedicate as much or as little time as you have available. But dedicating some time is of the utmost importance.
Since we would like to have our union density over 50% by the end of this academic year, we need faculty who are willing to recruit: going to other faculty offices and speaking to colleagues about their concerns and how they intersect with union goals. Please write to me at president(at)uff-fau.org if you are interested. If we have enough people interested, we will hold a recruiting workshop this fall. Look forward to seeing you soon!
July 17, 2012. Bargaining team signed off on 16 articles; Next bargaining meeting August 13, 2012 at 12:30PM
We continue meeting throughout the summer bargaining over the entire UFF-BOT Collective Bargaining Agreement. We have already tentatively agreed on the following articles: 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 11, 13, 16, 19, 21, 22, 25, 27, 28, and 29.We will eventually send you the amendments when we ask the faculty to ratify the contract after we have finished bargaining.
Some of our main debates concern summer instructional activity. The union is firm that faculty needs to be compensated for any credit-generating activity when they are not under regular contract. The summer compensation clause originated back when faculty took a reduction from summer pay originally being 75%of their regular salary to 12.5% years ago The administration has also suggested only offering one supplemental summer course with a cap at 12,500 dollars. We
Another central issue is regarding notice for non-reappointment. We want the administration to follow the original contract under Article 12.2: subsections 1 and 2. The administration should honor the terms and conditions concerning the original letter of offer or original notice of appointment. If there are no termination dates in these original letters, then the dates of notice in the C.B.A. should be followed.
In regard to the instructor promotions structure, the administration has set the raises at 9% and 12% with the stipulation that any instructors who received raises from September 2008 onwards will have the difference deducted from the promotional raise. For example, if an instructor received a 3% raise in the last three years, s/he can only receive a 6% raise when going up for initial promotion. The administration argues that this structure will help create equity among instructors.
The administration has initially offered no raises. We are disputing this—particular in regard to the massive amount of reserve money they still retain. We have seen what happens when the administration hordes reserves: the state forcibly reduces its contribution. Instead, some of these reserves need to be dedicated to faculty.
Post-tenure review is also beginning to be discussed.
Our next bargaining meeting will be on August 13, 2012 at 12:30 PM in the Provost’s Conference Room (3rd Floor on the Administration Building). Anyone can attend. We strongly suggest that you do so, so that the administration can understand how faculty are deeply concerned about the aforementioned issues.
Send me any feedback that you might have at president (at) uff-fau.org. Hope you’re having a good summer.
June 11, 2012. Provost Brenda Claiborne announces significant changes to Promotion and Tenure policy without notifying UFF or faculty governance bodies
It has recently come to the union’s attention that the provost released a May 31, 2012 memo regarding Promotion and Tenure (P&T). Particular notice should be given to section 9 where the external letters of recommendation have increased from 3 to 5. The union has recently contacted the provost stating that the Collective Bargaining Agreement specifically speaks to procedures that need to be followed in making changes to P&T criteria. Specifically, according to Article 14.2 (b) and Article 15.1 (c)(4) two things must occur first before modifying criteria:
1) “The Board and the University may modify these criteria after notifying the UFF Chapter of the proposed changes and offering an opportunity to discuss them in consultation with the President or representative.” UFF has not been notified.
2) “Any proposal to develop or modify promotion criteria shall be available for discussion by members of the affected departments/units before adoption.” Faculty have not had any option to discuss this either. The union has never been made aware of such changes and needs to discuss them before any type of adoption takes place. Since the number of external letters was increased from two to three just two years ago after undergoing a comprehensive review by the University Committee, we need to understand the reasoning behind the increase of two additional letters in such a short amount of time.
In regards to the second issue review by members of the affected departments most faculty are not under contract right now so they are not obligated nor might not have adequate time to review the proposed changes. Either way, they were not given the opportunity. UFF suggests that administration should at least wait until the beginning of the fall semester to discuss these changes when faculty are under contract and present so they can discuss such issues as a group. Additionally, the administration needs time to allow the University Committee to meet to discuss any such changes.
If the administration fails to comply with the terms and conditions in the CBA, the union will then contact our legal counsel and proceed accordingly.
Furthermore, faculty should be aware that if any changes do take place, according to the CBA, Article 15.1 (4) states that such changes don’t become effective until a year after their adoption. Also, “an employee with at least three (3) years of tenure-earning credit as of the date on which the tenure criteria are adopted shall be evaluated for tenure under the criteria as they existed prior to modification” unless the employee chooses otherwise.
The CBA serves as a foundational document in such matters of P&T. This is yet another way in which the union protects the integrity of such processes. If you haven’t done so, join today. Download a membership form and send it to: Chris Robe’, CU 214, Boca Raton campus.
We are here when you aren’t making sure that protocols are followed. Join and become active in the union today.
May 14, 2012. The faculty protest in late April was a last resort after the non-responsiveness of FAU administrators. What did we achieve?
First of all, I would thank all faculty and staff who participated in the summer teaching protest held on April 18. As you all know, the protest just didn’t concern itself with summer teaching, but more importantly the way in which faculty have been systematically excluded from most decision-making processes recently implemented by the upper administration. Only after the fact is faculty input solicited. We are hoping as a result of such negative publicity that the administration will start implementing policies where faculty have been an integral part from the inception. I will be meeting with the provost later this month to discuss this problem and see how we can move forward regarding this.
The union doesn’t take protesting lightly. We have attempted to use other more formal channels– consultation, meeting with the upper administration through more informal settings, asking questions during faculty assemblies and the senate, but felt that our concerns were not being taken seriously. As a result, we felt that we had no option other than focusing the public eye on the ways in which faculty, students, and staff feel how that the university has been mismanaged. In this effort we were successful. In addition to attracting at least seventy faculty, staff and students to our protest rally on the 18th, and helping students publicize their own earlier protest rally, we received good publicity in a variety of media. See the links to local media in previous posts on the protests here at uff-fau.org.
The results were productive:
1) We finally received a belated memo from the administration on April 10 regarding the rationale for the implementation of summer policy.
2) Administrators started to reinstitute courses more promptly.
3) The administration publicly acknowledged that the implementation of the summer policy was misguided.
4) After repeated calls by the union since Fall 2011 for a Town Hall Budget meeting, the upper administration finally held one. The result was far from satisfactory. Although we would much rather have had the President and the Provost directly fielding questions, the meeting at least provided a public forum where faculty could directly address some of their concerns and judge for themselves the adequacy of the responses.
But of course the proof is in the proverbial pudding. We’ll see how future administrative policies are made and implemented and if faculty governance and knowledge is respected. We understand that FAU has been placed in a difficult economic situation because of the hostility by many in the state legislature in regards toward public education.
This damage has been compounded by misguided policies on the local level that seem distinctly out of touch with faculty concerns and expertise and thus destructive of some core goals of the university, its discipline-specific teaching and research programs. But for now we look to the future by attempting to establish a more functional and balanced relationship with the upper administration. As you know, the union provides a forum for the only independent collective voice of the faculty. But only faculty can make this voice be adequately heard not only by joining the union, but also by becoming more involved in it.
The union repeatedly and rigorously addresses issues that many faculty members articulate to one another but might be uncomfortable pronouncing on their own to the administration. But the union gives you an independent, collective voice across department, college and campus boundaries. Your involvement makes us a more effective, democratic, well-informed, and vigorous university. Please download a membership form by clicking here today. Send to Chris Robe’, FAU, CU 215, Boca Raton, FL 33431.
Have a good summer!
February 2, 2012. UFF-FAU announces new non-tenure track promotional structure approved by NTT faculty.
The union is pleased to announce that a new non-tenure-track [NTT] promotional structure has recently been approved by NTT faculty. All faculty should be receiving a memorandum from the provost issuing general guidelines for how the criteria for the promotional structure will be determined by departments. NTT faculty will be a central part in determining these criteria. Once the criteria are established, faculty who had been hired at 2002 or earlier will be eligible to submit their materials for promotion in Fall 2012.
Issues concerning salaries and raises attached to promotions will carry over into full-book bargaining this spring. There we will suggest that promotional raises be identical to tenure-track faculty’s promotional raises: 9% after promotion to Senior Instructor and 12% after promotion to University Instructor. We will have NTT faculty on our bargaining team to represent your interests. Feel free to attend our bargaining meetings to lend support and stay informed.
It initially had been a difficult struggle to get the administration to admit the importance of NTT faculty within the university. Even forming a subcommittee concerning NTT issues seemed daunting at first. But when the meetings commenced, the union fought extremely hard regarding NTT interests throughout the process as anyone who attended can attest. Furthermore, these meetings allowed NTT faculty a platform to express themselves to administrators that they don’t often have much access to. We want to thank each and every one of NTT faculty who have been a part of this process. This is the beginning of providing NTT faculty a stronger voice within their departments, schools, colleges, and the university.
With this said, the union still strongly advocates for tenure and tenure-track positions. Tenure serves as the engine of the university by providing needed job security and academic freedom for innovative teaching and long-term research to thrive. We don’t see the advocacy for NTT faculty as opposed to the interests of tenure-track and tenured faculty. NTT faculty provide the teaching and FTE production to offset the time needed by tenure-track and tenured faculty to concentrate on research and service commitments. Yet the union understands that if faculty do not resist trends in increasingly replacing tenured faculty with NTT faculty, tenure will effectively be killed by death-of-a-thousand cuts in the future, isolating tenure to an ever-diminishing number of faculty. We need to guard against such trends while nonetheless not neglect representing the interests of all faculty who serve the university.
Overall, a promotional structure is long overdue for NTT faculty. It belatedly recognizes the new political economy of public universities as state resources and commitments continue to dwindle. More importantly, it only begins to reward NTT faculty for stellar sustained teaching. We find the subcommittee structure an effective method in addressing faculty issues with the administration. So: what do you want to do next and how can you help the union in doing so? We have full-book bargaining this spring and encourage all faculty to attend the meetings. We will twitter feed negotiations at: UFFFAU.
Also, if you haven’t already done so, please fill out the bargaining survey at:
Attend Executive Committee meetings the first Friday of each month at 12:00 PM in CU 222 (Culture and Society Building). Run for union office. Contact chapter secretary Dave Lee with your self-nomination or if you are nominating others at: dlee251348(at)bellsouth.net. At the very least, join the union. Download the attached membership form and send it to: Chris Robé, CU 214. We need to raise our membership density above 50% before July 1, 2012 before any decertification legislation goes into effect. We are currently at about 39%. If around 110 new members join from now until July, we will reach our goal.