United Faculty of Florida-Florida Atlantic University Chapter
February 12, 2010. Necessary to address FAU administrators’ continued stonewalling, PERC hearing anticipated in April.
Readers of this blog are well aware of the FAU administration’s extravagant degree of foot-dragging and refusal to agree to a preliminary meeting for arbitration of the Chapter Grievance relating to the reorganization and subsequent layoff of five tenured faculty members in the College of Engineering. Article 20.3(b) of the CBA empowers UFF to “file a grievance in a dispute over a provision of this Agreement which confers rights upon the UFF.”
An Unfair Labor Practice charge has been processed by UFF-FAU after repeated pleas to the FAU administration to comply with the CBA on the above. Contrary to Provost Diane Alperin’s interpretive remarks, FAU does not have the right to assess the arbitrability of a grievance it is a party to. On January 28 this ULP was referred to Florida Education Association attorneys. We anticipate this action will receive a hearing before the Public Employees Relations Commission in April.
Should this action even be necessary? Not if the wishes of UFF and the College of Engineering faculty were acknowledged and forthrightly addressed by FAU administrators. Not if the FAU administration and BOT adhered to the CBA to which they are signatories. The administrators’ stance in this and related matters is to throw up roadblocks and stall when they perceive they may be in the wrong, hoping somehow that the clock will run out so they don’t have to face up to pressing faculty concerns they are paid quite dearly to deal with. In the end, the taxpayer will likely have to pick up the tab for hefty legal fees on this unfortunate and drastic action.
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January 28, 2010. Letter from UFF Service Unit Coordinator Nissen was last chance for Pritchett administration to take responsibility under CBA before Unfair Labor Practice charge filed, Florida taxpayers to pick up tab for hefty legal fees.
(Hand-delivered on Jan. 11)
Service Unit Director, UFF
5130 Jackson Street
Hollywood, FL 33021-7234
January 11, 2010
Diane Alperin, Provost
Florida Atlantic University
777 Glades Road, AD10-309
Boca Raton, FL 33431
Dear Provost Alperin:
We are in receipt of your December 11, 2009 letter to UFF-FAU President James Tracy refusing to proceed to arbitration over the arbitrability of the UFF’s grievance regarding layoffs in the FAU Engineering School to arbitration. Your refusal to proceed to arbitration, even over the arbitrability issue, is a violation of Florida law Section 447.501(1).
All of your arguments for why you refuse to move further are matters for an arbitrator to decide, not for unilateral university decision. Whether the issue is moot, whether the UFF Chapter has standing, and whether the old language of the collective bargaining agreement is enforceable while a new contract is being negotiated are issues that the arbitrator will decide when making a decision over the arbitrability of the original grievance over the Engineering layoffs.
The legal questions surrounding arbitrability are well settled by now. Since the university has competent legal counsel, you should know this. However, if you wish to consult some pertinent decisions by the Public Employee Relations Commission, see DeSoto County Teachres Ass’n v. DeSoto County School Board, 5 FPER 10307 at 324C (1979), Westfall v. Orange County Board of County Commissioners, 8 FPER 13367 at 648 (1982), Communications Workers of America, Local 3179, Clearwater Employees Association v. City of Clearwater, 9 FPER 14278 at 561 (1983), and Boynton Beach Association of Fire Fighters, Local 1891 v. City of Boyton Beach, 114 FPER 19149 at 378 (1988), among others. For a very recent ruling regarding higher education, see the Hearing Officer’s recommended order in PERC Case No. CA-2009-046, concerning Pensacola Junior College’s refusal to proceed to arbitration on an issue.
We are giving you one final chance to contact UFF-FAU Grievance Chair Doug Broadfield to pick an arbitrator. If you do not do so by January 20, 2010, the UFF will proceed with an Unfair Labor Practice Charge with PERC. We will be requesting legal fees, so further refusal on your part may be a very costly decision for the university.
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