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 United Faculty of Florida-Seminole Chapter


The End Finally IS In Sight!

February 16 saw the College and UFF getting closer to agreement on the remaining articles. The parties are essentially in agreement on Article 25-Benefits and Article 30-Duration but are still a bit apart on Article 26-Compensation.

The next session is scheduled for Friday, February 26, at 1:30pm in UP-2207. -February 16, 2016

Nearing the End of Negotiations

Bargaining has progressed at a very rapid rate over the past couple months with agreement finally coming on many topics that had been on the table for months - or even years. At the last session, Friday, January 29, 2016, the College and the Union finally came to agreement on Article 13-Contracts and Article 14-Assignments. with these agreements, the major work of the contract is now complete with only compensation, benefits, and duration remaining. -February 1, 2016

Is The End Finally In Sight?

Each of the last three negotiation sessions saw agreements reached resulting in five more very important articles being finalized. This is clearly the most progress made in such a short time since negotiations began over four years ago. Most major articles have been placed on the table leaving only a handful of lesser issues still to be presented. Many of those will be presented in the next two sessions and should be well discussed in June.

The process is quickly advancing toward the end which could be soon enough to have a complete Agreement available for ratification prior to the start of the next academic year. There are still several articles that have been "on the table" for quite some time awaiting agreements on other issues. Union Rights, Layoff/Recall, and Sabbatical Leave are some of those that will now be brought back into active discussion.

The next session on May 27 should see Article 13 - Tenure/Continuing Contract and Article 16 - Faculy Credentials, Screening, and Transfers discussed. The College proposed withdrawing the article on Post-Continuning Contract Review in favor of including language that the new evaluation process would serve as the post-tenure review and UFF-Seminole agreed. The parties agreed that we are close enough to the end to start preparinga compensation article for discussion soon.

Recent agreements reached include the following.

-May 14, 2015

Faculty Duties, Workload, Performance Evaluation,
Professional Development Package Presented

The UFF team presented a package proposal including articles on faculty duties and responsibilities (workload), performance evaluation, and professional development. The parties had previously agreed that these three areas would be treated together since they are very closely related.

The College team advised they expect to have a response at the next session March 20, 2015. -February 23, 2015

Shared Governance Signed!

The Seminole State and UFF-Seminole bargaining teams reached agreement and signed an article on shared governance. First introduced by the UFF in October, 2014, the quick pace of negotiation and agreement on this article attests to the shift in negotiations over the past few months.

Bargaining continues to improve with more discussion and attempts to understand each other's concerns and issues.

At the next session on February 23, the UFF-Seminole team will be presenting a package of three articles to include Faculty Duties, Professional Development, and Performance Evaluation. These latest proposals and many more may be found on the Proposals page. -January 30, 2015

Grievance and Arbitration Article Signed!

After three years, four months, and two days - but who's counting - since our original proposal on the subject we signed off on Article 11 Grievance and Arbitration. Although it was a long time in coming, probably the longest of any article, we prevailed on every point of concern to us.

We cannot stress enough that bargaining is going much better, there is considerable discussion and attempts to understand each other's concerns and issues.

At the last session they presented Professional Development and Performance Evaluation which are fairly reasonable and which they want agreement next. However, we argued - and they agreed - that Faculty Duties, Contracts and Tenure, and Post-Tenure Review are all very closely interrelated with these and thus all five areas should be considered as a package. Since they have dropped their demands for 37.5 hours on campus each week at the last session, we are very near signing off on Faculty Duties and hopefully we can put our proposals on these others together and get an agreement at our next session January 16, at 1:00PM in UP-2207. -December 5, 2014

Another Tentative Agreement and More
to Come as Bargaining Improves

As previously reported, there is change in the air as bargaining continues and both teams seem to able to accomplish much more than in past months. In keeping with this change, at the Novemebr 12 bargaining session the administraion accepted UFF's proposal on Tuition/Fee Waivers and Refunds with only two minor edits.

This article closely follows the existing policy and procedure while increasing the maximum lifetime credits allowed from 60 to 120 semester credit hours. It also requires the waiver/refund be granted rather than allowing that they "may" be granted and removes administrative approval in favor of verification of eligibility.

UFF and Seminole administration are also very close on several other issues: grievance and arbitration, faculty duties and responsibilllities (workload), professional development, and performance evaluation. We expect some movement on these at the next session December 5, at 1:00PM in UP-2207.

Bargaining Improves

It seems that Seminole State College has lost both their in-house attorneys and their outside labor attorney in recent weeks. Tom O'Hearn has already left and Vasilis Katsafanas is gone by the end of August. Additionally, Michael Grogan, outside labor attorney from the Jacksonville office of Allen, Norton, and Blue (ANBLaw) retired and the firm has closed their Jacksonville office. Mr. Grogan reportedly is still working with Florida State College at Jacksonville.

Beginning with the July 31 session Mark Levitt of the Winter Park office of ANBLaw has taken over for the College. The result is yet to be seen, but so far negotiations seem to be much more constructive with open dialogue and discussion. Clearly, it appears the tide may be changing.

Much progress was made in discussions on faculty responsibilities and workload which also includes types of contracts to be awarded faculty. The College made it clear they wish to phase out the two-term, 164-day contract that requires just thirty (30) semester credit hours of teaching. But language added by UFF, and to which the administration seems to agree, will permit everyone currently on such a contract to remain on one and to phase them out through attrition. The basic contract will be the two and one-half term, 196-day contract. All other existing contracts would remain. UFF is seeking language that will require mutual agreement for changes in contract length.

The session August 22, which was well attended by faculty, saw more discussion on workload and contracts. The next session is planned for September 26, at 1:00PM in UP-2207, with UFF presenting Contracts/Tenure/Post-Tenure Review, Layoff/recall and Grievance/Arbitration.

April 25 Bargaining Session to Address Workload

UFF Seminole expects a response from the administration on their proposal dealing with workload and faculty duties and responsibilities when they meet again on Friday, April 25. The session is scheduled in UP-2207 from 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM.

The Union presented their proposal on March 28. This article has been one of the slowest to develop due to its significance in defining faculty obligations. Each proposal has taken about a year to get to the table as the parties dealt with easier topics on which to reach agreement. Yet, the Union's latest proposal has taken into account most of the College's issues in their proposal.

Agreement Reached on Continuing Contract Faculty for This Year

Last summer, the Florida Department of Education enacted changes in 6A-14.0411 Florida Administratice Code governing continuing contract eligibility which changes the number of years of service required for eligibility from three to five or more. That rule change has been challenged by UFF and an appeals court decision is expected this year. In the meantime many colleges are imposing the rule on faculty who were already hired and expected tenure consideration in their third-year of employment. UFF has already filed unfair labor practice (ULP) charges against Broward College and Palm Beach State College as a result of such changes.

In a spirit of cooperation, UFF and Seminole College have signed an agreement to permit current continuing contract-eligible faculty who would have been eligible this year to continue to be considered for continuing contracts. Although the agreement only applies to those who would have been considered this year (generally third-year faculty), we hope to be done with bargaining before another group of faculty are affected.

Progress Finally Made at Bargaining Table
Agreement Reached on Tuition Reimbursement

After several proposals from each side, UFF and Seminole State have reached tentative agreement (TA) on another article: the first in well over a year at the bargaining table.

Tuition reimbursement was first proposed by the Union in language very similar to the existing policies and procedures. However, the College had several problems with the Union's proposal - not the least of which was the Union's desire to establish some priorities to ensure that faculty with the greatest needs get reimbursed first. After two Union proposals and two College proposals, the College, on Friday, January 10, 2014, presented a proposal which had grown very similar to the Union's. After one more final tweak to ensure reimbursement for S/U or Pass/Fail graded courses, both sides agreed and signed off on the language. You can view the final article here. All the proposals and tentative agreements are being placed on a new "Proposals" page to make it easier to track the many iterations of language from both sides. This page is being updated constantly as new proposals are placed on the table.

Article 24, Fee Waiver and Refund was also discussed at that meeting and the parties seem very close to agreement. Perhaps the next session, currently planned for February 7, will see another TA reached.

It is very important that faculty provide input into the negotiation process. Over the coming weeks you will be receiving notices about various opportunities to address your issues, ideas, and perhaps even participate at the bargaining table. Please keep your eyes open for communications from your union leadership and be prepared to let us know what is important to you.

The next bargaining session is scheduled for Friday, October 18 in UP-2207 from 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM. As always, bargaining sessions are open to the public. Please make every effort to come and watch the process.

You can also keep up with what's happening by viewing the Bargaining page.


Bargaining Continues as Union Recognition
Reaches Third Anniversary

The United Faculty of Florida - Seminole State College Chapter turns three years old in October, 2013. Many have expressed some concerns that a contract has not yet been reached between the College and the Union. While a first contract is normally not an easy task anywhere, it seems a bit more difficult at Seminole State as a result of several issues well beyond our control. The Union wanted to go into bargaining representing as many faculty - and more importantly their ideas - so we worked on increasing membership a bit more while trying to establish with the College administration a regular bargaining schedule. The Union proposed regular public bargaining sessions every other Friday until the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) was complete. Unfortunately, neither Dr. McGee nor the College's retained attorney would accept our request.

When bargaining finally started in mid-February, 2011, the administration kept insisting that the Union propose an entire CBA at once and allow them to accept or reject it. The Union refused for a variety of legal and strategic reasons. Then, a number of Republican legislative initiatives aimed at decimating collective bargaining in Florida seemed to allow for little headway at the bargaining table.

At this time, agreements have been reached - or are close - on nearly half the issues: some of the most difficult issues in fact with a large number of articles still on the table. Some very difficult areas of negotiation lie ahead. Faculty duties/responsibilities (workload), grievances/arbitrations, and contracts have been proposed with significant differences remaining. Still awaiting development of proposals are faculty evaluation, hiring/transfers/vacancies, faculty governance/input in curriculum, and obviously compensation which will likely be last.

It is very important that faculty provide input into the negotiation process. Over the coming weeks you will be receiving notices about various opportunities to address your issues, ideas, and perhaps even participate at the bargaining table. Please keep your eyes open for communications from your union leadership and be prepared to let us know what is important to you.

The next bargaining session is scheduled for Friday, October 18 in UP-2207 from 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM. As always, bargaining sessions are open to the public. Please make every effort to come and watch the process.

You can also keep up with what's happening by viewing the Bargaining page.

Agreement Reached on Faculty Rights; College Ignores Employment Contracts in Reduction-in-Force

Once again the UFF-Seminole and Seminole State bargaining teams have reached Tentative Agreement (TA) on final language that is very similar to our original proposal. This time the article is Faculty Rights which encompasses many areas including rights to union representation at meetings with administration, right to privacy in personal and private life, right to respond to and access documents in personnel files, outside employment, offices, free parking, and access to college email systems. On September 28, the UFF team presented their seventh proposal. After considerable discussion and caucuses, the parties agreed to final language that maintained important rights we had insisted on throughout the process.

However, the success with faculty rights was overshadowed by the college's insistence again that we consider a reduction-in-force article that ignores faculty employment contracts and expects faculty to settle for only two weeks notice: that's right, TWO WEEKS NOTICE, if the college decides for any reason to "reduce faculty. furthermore, they offered no absolute criteria for determining who is retained and who is let go. Instead, they offered that selection "may include consideration" of such vague and subjective criteria as "essentiality of the position", educational qualifications, work performance, attendance record, and supervisor recommendations.

They also offered a severance of only 10% of annual base salary and three months of employee-only health and dental insurance. UFF gave no serious consideration to this proposal. UFF made the first proposal on "Layoff and Recall" July 14, 2011 to which the college responded on September 2, 2011. UFF made two more proposals since then offering language with objective criteria, notice provisions, reassignment opportunities, and recall rights. The college has steadfastly refused to discuss or offer language on these essential aspects which are contained in almost every other higher-education contract in the state.

This was a long-fought effort to retain rights - some of which faculty already enjoyed but which the administration refused to protect in the collective bargaining agreement. UFF-Seminole first proposed a faculty rights article on October 7, 2011 that also included language on academic freedom. It took the college nearly a month to respond and on November 4, 2011 they returned with a much watered-down counter-proposal that excluded academic freedom among many other provisions. We agreed to breakout academic freedom into a separate article which was tentatively agreed to April 13, 2013.

You can read the final faculty rights article on our Bargaining page. Compare the college's offer on reduction-in force with UFF's latest proposal on August 10, 2012.

Agreement Reached on Proprietary Rights / Intellectual Property

The UFF-Seminole and Seminole State bargaining teams have reached Tentative Agreement (TA) on final language that is nearly identical toUFF's proposal on intellectual and proprietary property rights. On August 10, the UFF team presented another proposal that was very similar to their first and subsequent proposals acknowledging but which this time incorporated a means to define "incidental" use of college resources using an explanation in an existing policy and procedure..

You can read the final intellectual property article on our Bargaining page.

The next bargaining sessions are scheduled for August 24 (in UP 12050 and September 7 (location TBA). Both sessions are 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM.

Agreement Reached on Academic Freedom

Once again, after having presented several intermediate proposals on each side, the bargaining teams have reached Tentative Agreement (TA) on final language that is very similar to what UFF had previously presented. This time the subject was academic freedom.

UFF had steadfastly insisted that faculty members have the right to determine classroom strategies and how they would teach while the College insisted on language that included "the College can determine for itself on academic grounds, who may teach, what may be taught, how it shall be taught, and who may be admitted to study."

Finally, on April 13, the College returned to the table with their third counter-proposal that was very similar to UFF's proposals acknowledging academic freedom within common expectations.

The teams also engaged in good discussion about continuing contracts (tenure) and faculty rights. Still on the table are proposals on faculty duties and responsibilities, tenure and professional development, faculty rights, grievance and arbitration, layoff and recall (reduction-in-force), union rights, and intellectual property.

You can read the final academic freedom article on our Bargaining page.

More Proposals Passed at Bargaining
Another Agreement Reached

In the past two bargaining sessions, UFF has presented brand proposals on faculty duties and responsibilities, tenure and professional development, and presented revised proposals on academic freedom, faculty rights, and textbooks. Both sides continune to work on grievance and arbitration, layoff and recall (reduction-in-force), union rights, and intellectual property.

The last session saw agreement finally reached on textbooks. The College had steadfastly insisted that faculty could recommend books and materials for courses, but that the selection/adoption was a function of the Associate Deans. UFF adamantly defended the rights of faculty members in the selection process and the administration finally accepted our position and we reached Tentative Agreement (TA) on the article.

You can read the final agreed upon language on our Bargaining page.

Bargaining Continues, Picks Up Pace

To date, UFF and Seminole State College have placed almost half the proposals on the table for consideration and scheduled bi-weekly bargaining sessions through September 16. The complete text of all proposals tentatively agreed to, or currently proposed by UFF, can be found on the Bargaining page.

Grievance and arbitration,layoff and recall, discipline, and Union rights are on the table and we hope to reach agreement in the next two weeks. Such issues as leave, benefits, and similar human resources subjects currently covered by Policies and Procedures are being crafted. Issues such as faculty rights, academic freedom, tenure, professional development, and economics will be discussed in upcoming faculty forums on various campuses.

Your UFF Chapter leaders want as much faculty input into these areas as possible both before and after language is proposed. Unfortunately, with bargaining over the summer, faculty were not easily available. But With the new academic year getting underway you will see online surveys, face-to-face conversations with chapter leaders, and open meetings to discuss what you want in your contract.

Don't forget, bargaining is open to the public so feel free to come watch if you do not have classes or office hours scheduled.

Bargaining Has Begun

Representatives of UFF-Seminole Faculty and Seminole State Administration met Friday, February 11 at 3 p.m. for their first bargaining session. At this initial meeting representatives of faculty and administration discussed and reached agreement on the basic ground rules and procedures for the bargaining process. In addition, Michael Grogan, lead negotiator for the College, advised all participants that negotiating sessions fell under Florida's Sunshine Law and that all bargaining sessions are open to the public.

After agreement was reached on the ground rules both parties then attempted to schedule further meetings of both negotiating teams. The teams agreed to the next meeting would occur at 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. on Friday, February 25th in room V-105. Despite scheduling conflicts and the College's Spring Break in March, two further meetings were scheduled on March 16th and March 30th, both taking place between 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. at a room to be determined later.

Mr. Grogan, on behalf of the Administration, offered to fund travel for both teams to a Collective Bargaining Seminar to be held in New York in the early part of April. All Seminole State members of both bargaining units will be attending the seminar. Since they are already experienced in bargaining and are not employees of the College, the chief negotiators will not be attending the seminar.

The Faculty's lead negotiator Michael Moats of UFF then offered a Preamble and the first three articles for the collective bargaining agreement. Both parties agreed that these would be discussed in detail at the next meeting of the teams on February 25.

The Administration's collective bargaining team include Lead Negotiator Mr. Grogan, VP of CTS Dick Hamann, Director of Human Resources Claudia Salvano, Director of Risk Management and Legal Affairs Tom Ohern and campus Provost (Oviedo) Lisa Valentino.

Faculty was represented by Lead Negotiator Mr. Moats, Professor of Economics Frank Albritton, Professor of Mathematics Sue Kellicut, Professor of Political Science Michael Hoover and Professor/Program Manager of Business Administration George Bernard. Also in attendance as a member of the public was Professor of History and President of UFF-Seminole Dan Gilmartin.

The meeting adjourned at approximately 5:15 p.m.

A Collaborative Bargaining Environment

What would a collaborative bargaining environment at Seminole State look like? Collaborative bargaining is based upon the idea that everyone is interested in achieving a satisfactory agreement. In other words, the collaborative environment is a cooperative environment, one with mutual respect. Collaboration is not just about being nice; it entails altering conventional roles, behavior patterns, even the language employed. Such change occurs when those involved want to change.

Cooperative negotiation works when administration and faculty recognize that they have some common interests. For example, administrators recognize that faculty have a legitimate and constructive role to play in institutional decision-making and faculty view themselves as professionals working with administrators to make decisions and resolve problems. Open communication and information flow are crucial here.

The principle difference between traditional and collaborative bargaining is that the former is power-based while the latter encourages parties to work in partnership. When faculty are partners in governance, choices made and eventual results are something that they have done, rather than something that was done to (or even for) them.

Together, a Board of Trustees and the college president make and carry out policy. Some are paternalistic and believe that they do the right things and provide what's best for their faculty. Others perceive that their legal authority precludes a more equitable and substantive role for faculty. Still others think that they already involve faculty through an existing system of ad hoc and advisory committees. None of these scenarios allow for independent association of faculty and the legal rights that accompany recognition. When faculty organize in this way, governing boards and administrators can set a positive tone for future relations. Confrontation is not inevitable; interaction does not have to be adversarial and combative.

Collaborative bargaining is not a panacea. Disagreements arise, but then disagreements already exist. So call it sensible good faith. Schools that have adopted this process report increased appreciation by administrators for faculty, and vice-versa. Also, faculty and administrators alike indicate that they feel a shared sense of purpose and direction. Most importantly, both groups see improved education for students which is the reason why we are all here.

Accentuating the Positive

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