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Legislative Update Pre-Session #2

February 24, 2017

Who Says Public Employee Unions Do Not Have Power?

legislative update Representative Scott Plakon (R-Seminole) obviously thinks UFF and other public employee unions are not good for Florida as he has filed HB 11 which establishes a decertification process for those public sector unions having less than 50% membership. This union busting tactic is not new for Plakon as he filed a similar bill in 2011. That bill never reached any legislative committee.

But times have changed. It is not an election year and Plakon is emboldened by his prolonged service in the House of Representatives plus a new and more anti-employee sentiment in the House.

What does the bill do? The bill, if passed, would add an additional requirement to an employee union's annual renewal with the Public Employees Relations Commission. That requirement is that each certified bargaining unit (each UFF chapter) of a registered employee organization (in our case UFF) must provide the number of eligible employees for union membership and the number of members who pay dues or do not pay dues. If that information is not presented then the certification for that bargaining unit is revoked.

If the certified bargaining unit dues paying membership is less than 50%, that bargaining unit must petition PERC for recertification as the exclusive bargaining representative within one month after the date on which the bargaining unit applied for renewal. Application for PERC recertification requires either voluntary recognition of the union by the employer or petition to PERC for recertification upon submission of call for union representation election cards from at least 30% of the full bargaining unit. If sufficient cards are submitted to PERC, then an election would be held to re-establish or decertify the union. Note: The application for recertification must occur within one month of the initial date of application for annual renewal.

As was stated by FEA in 2011, "Florida law permits public employees to obtain an election to decertify and exclusive bargaining representative. "Any employee or group of employees which no longer desires to be represented by the certified bargaining agent may file with the commission a petition to revoke certification. FEA believes legislative proposals that target unions representing public employees by requiring recertification of unions with membership below 50 percent of the employees is unconstitutional. These measures are simply to make life more difficult in as many ways as they can so in the end member unions go away."

If we have no power, why this legislation? Because, we are in many cases, the last impediment opposing anti-worker and anti-public school legislation. If we are silenced then their goals are more easily accomplished. Stand with UFF and fight this anti-worker and anti-higher education agenda! Ask your fellow colleagues to join UFF and strengthen our union in this important fight for Florida's future and the guaranteed right to organize under Article I, Section 6, of Florida's Constitution!

Senate Higher Education Package Headed for Floor Vote

In a meeting of the Senate Appropriations Committee on February 23rd, SB 2 and SB 4 were combined as SB 2 and passed by a 16-0 committee vote. The bill saw a number of amendments which improved the bill but did not address all UFF concerns. The bill, as amended, does the following:

  • Increases student financial aid and tuition assistance for Florida Bright Futures Academic Scholars in fall and spring terms and adds support to these students in the summer term.
  • the state-to-private match requirements for contributions to the First Generation Matching Grant Program from 1:1 to 2:1.
  • Requires state university boards of trustees to adopt a student block tuition policy for adoption in the fall 2018 semester.
  • Strengthens "2+2" articulation by establishing the "2+2" targeted pathway program.
  • Requires school districts to provide notification to students and parents about applying acceleration mechanism credit to a postsecondary degree.
  • Creates a scholarship program for students from farmworker families.
  • Adds the funding elements from SB 4, namely funding pools for hiring and retaining top-level faculty and rewarding outstanding graduate programs.

However, there are elements of the bill for which UFF has concerns. Specifically, we believe that changes to the performance funding metrics dealing with graduation rates, excess hours provisions, and changes to the percent-of-normal-time completion rate may limit access to higher education for lower-income, minority and non-traditional students. The provision for colleges dealing with on time graduation rates was amended based on suggestions from college presidents and was supported by the Association of Florida Colleges. That provision would give the State Board of Education greater flexibility in defining the cohort of "full-time" students included under the metric and setting the higher standard for only those colleges designated "distinguished" institutions.

UFF has serious concerns about the university performance metric dealing with 4-year graduation rate. The reduction of time for graduation will force universities to accept only those students who can complete the program in four years. This "cherry picking" will adversely impact the goal of increased access for diverse populations. Students at urban and regional universities tend to take longer to graduate due to family concerns, the need to work to pay for their education, and a host of other reasons. The scarcity of need based financial aid needs to be address in the funding of SB 2 to guarantee all Florida students have equal access and just not those of financial means.

UNIVERSITY EMPLOYEES' HEALTH INSURANCE

The House Health and Human Services Committee passed a proposed committee bill, later renumbered HB 7007, which authorizes the state group insurance program to include additional benefits and to establish the implementation of benefit levels as described in the staff analysis of the bill.

"Beginning in the 2020 plan year, the bill provides that state employees will have health plan choices at four different benefit levels. These levels are:

  • Platinum Level (at least 90% AV)
  • Gold Level (at least 80% AV)
  • Silver Level (at least 70% AV)
  • Bronze Level (at least 60% AV)"

Note: AV is the "actuarial value".

This is to encourage younger and healthier employees to select a lower coverage where they might be able to keep the difference in the cost of the "base" plan versus a lower tier level of health care. The "base" plan is not defined and no premiums are mentioned in this legislation. Both Rich Templin of AFL-CIO and UFF warned against this cost shifting concept and the fact that most state employees have seen little or no raise in years. At least, the state has covered the increased insurance costs. The state plan was described as "benefits rich" but they left out the other important fact that state employees are "salary poor." Note: The real issue is the inflationary cost of medical services and prescription drugs.

SOME LEGISLATIVE BRIEFS

SB 374 which has been dubbed the "College Competitiveness Act"

SB 374 deemphasizes four-year programs at current state colleges. The bill would remove state colleges from the oversight of the State Board of Education and put them under a new State Board of Community Colleges. The bill will make 4-year baccalaureate degree programs a "secondary" mission of the colleges. The bill reinstates a statewide coordinating board for the Florida Community College System and removes them from the purview of the State Board of Education. The bill has passed the Senate Education Committee. The 254-page bill does not yet have a House companion bill

SB 622 by Senator Greg Steube, GUNS ON CAMPUS

Senator Steube has broken down his overall guns legislation into multiple bills. SB 622 is legislation to allow carrying of concealed weapons on college and university campuses. The bill is deceptively titled and at first glance appears to only impact athletic events. But it removes college and university facilities from the list where guns are not permitted. The bill has not been scheduled for a committee hearing at this time.

FEE WAIVERS FOR GRADUATE ASSISTANTS

Partial fee waivers for graduate assistants are scheduled to be part of Governor Scott's college tuition/fees package. UFF will be seeking to address specific fees for waiver.

PUBLIC RECORDS PROPOSALS HB 351

Pub. Rec. and Meetings/Postsecondary Education Executive Search General Bill by Rommel (R-Collier)

Pub. Rec. and Meetings/Postsecondary Education Executive Search: Provides exemption from public records requirements for personal identifying information of applicant for president, provost, or dean of state university or FCS institution; provides exemption from public meeting requirements for meeting held for specified purposes relating to postsecondary executive search; provides for future legislative review & repeal; provides statement of public necessity.

UFF strongly oppose this bill and it's Senate companion SB 478 by Senator Passidomo (R-Collier, Hendry and Lee)

SB 80: Public Records GENERAL BILL by Steube

Public Records; Requiring a complainant to timely provide certain written notice in order to be entitled to attorney fees in certain civil actions for enforcement of Ch. 119, F.S., etc. Public records should remain just that, public and accessible to all Floridians who file requests.

There is no enforcement mechanism protecting this right, only the filing of a civil suit. SB 80, by Senator Steube (R, Gainesville), would change current law so that if a citizen successfully sues a government agency or official for unlawfully being denied a public records request, they would not be guaranteed reasonable attorneys' fees. This action would deter attorneys from advising in these cases leaving citizens without legal representation and essentially killing our constitutional right.

This was the last week of Interim Committee meetings. Legislators and their aides are at home next week. That provides a great opportunity to go by their office or call them about important issues included in this update!

The 2017 Legislative Session convenes on Tuesday, March 7th.

[last updated: March 03 2017]

Knowing your Rights and Understanding Common Issues

Know Your Rights

The first e-mail blast of every month will present one topic from the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) that affects every FIU faculty member. The creation of this series is the result of a suggestion at our UFF Spring Chapter meeting. It is part of our ongoing effort to inform all faculty not only of their rights under the CBA, but to inform all faculty of the value of being a UFF member. Our CBA is the outcome of years of dedicated UFF Bargaining teams who see value in protecting our rights. Lastly, this is a legally binding agreement and must be adhered to by all parties.

Types of Leave

These are the types of leaves available to FIU faculty.

  • Holidays
  • Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) Entitlements
  • Parental Leave
  • Leaves Due to Illness/Injury
  • Annual Leave
  • Administrative Leaves
  • Bereavement Leave
  • Leave Without Pay

This week we explore Sick Leave.

In future weeks we will explore other specific types of leaves.

[last updated: June 18 2016]

Administrative Leaves

UFF-BOT
POLICY LEAVES

Purpose: To establish policy and procedures concerning employee leaves.

Policy:

  1. 10. Administrative Leaves.
    1. (A) Jury Duty and Court Appearances
    2. (B) Military Leave
      1. 1. Short-term Military Training
      2. 2. National Guard State Service
      3. 3. Other Military Leave.
    3. (C) Leave Pending Investigation
    4. (D) Other Leaves Provided Not Affecting Accrued Leave Balances
      1. 1. Florida Disaster Volunteer Leave
      2. 2. Civil disorder or disaster leave
      3. 3. Athletic competition leave
      4. 4. Leave for re-examination or treatment
    5. (E) Official Emergency Closings

  1. (A) Jury Duty and Court Appearances
    1. 1. An employee who is summoned as a member of a jury panel or subpoenaed as a witness in a matter not involving the employee's personal interests, shall be granted leave with pay and any jury or witness fees shall be retained by the employee; leave granted hereunder shall not affect an employee's annual or sick leave balance.
    2. 2. An appearance as an expert witness for which an employee receives professional compensation falls under the BOT-UFF Policy on Conflict of Interest and Outside Activity and the University's policies and rules relative to outside employment/conflict of interest. Such an appearance may necessitate the employee requesting annual leave or, if a non-annual leave accruing employee, may necessitate the employee seeking an adjustment of the work schedule.
    3. 3. If an employee is required, as a direct result of the employee's employment, to appear as an official witness to testify in the course of any action such duty shall be considered a part of the employee's job assignment, and the employee shall be paid per diem and travel expenses and shall turn over to the University any fees received.
    4. 4. An employee involved in personal litigation during work hours must request annual leave or, if a non-annual leave accruing employee, must seek an adjustment to the work schedule.
  2. (B) Military Leave.
    1. 1. Short-term Military Training. An employee who is a member of the United States Armed Forces Reserve, including the National Guard, upon presentation of a copy of the employee's official orders or appropriate military certification, shall be granted leave with pay during periods in which the employee is engaged in annual field training or other active or inactive duty for training exercises. Such leave with pay shall not exceed seventeen (17) work days in any one (1) federal fiscal year (October 1 - September 30).
    2. 2. National Guard State Service. An employee who is a member of the Florida National Guard shall be granted leave with pay on all days when ordered to active service by the State. Such leave with pay shall not exceed thirty (30) days at any one time.
    3. 3. Other Military Leave.
      1. (a) An employee, except an employee who is employed in a temporary position or employed on a temporary basis, who is drafted, who volunteers for active military service, or who is ordered to active duty (not active duty training) shall be granted leave in accordance with Chapter 43 of Title 38, United States Code. Active military service includes active duty with any branch of the United States Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, National Guard of the State of Florida, or other service as provided in Sections 115.08 and 115.09, Florida Statutes.
      2. (b) Such leave of absence shall be verified by official orders or appropriate military certification. The first thirty (30) days of such leave shall be with full-pay and shall not affect an employee's annual or sick leave balance. The remainder of military leave shall be without pay unless the employee elects to use accumulated annual leave or appropriate leave as provided in (4) below, or the employer exercises its option under Section 115.14, Florida Statutes, to supplement the employee's military pay. Leave payment for the first thirty (30) days shall be made only upon receipt of evidence from appropriate military authority that thirty (30) days of military service have been completed.
      3. (c) Applicable provisions of Federal and State law shall govern the granting of military leave and the employee's reemployment rights.
      4. (d) Use of accrued leave is authorized during a military leave without pay in accordance with Section 12 of this Policy. (C) Leave Pending Investigation. When the President or designee has reason to believe that the employee's presence on the job will adversely affect the operation of the University, the President or designee may immediately place the employee on leave pending investigation of the event(s) leading to that belief. The leave pending investigation shall commence immediately upon the President or designee providing the employee with a written notice of the reasons therefore. The leave shall be with pay, with no reduction of accrued leave.
  3. (D) Other Leaves Provided Not Affecting Accrued Leave Balances. An employee may be granted other leaves not affecting accrued leave balances which are provided as follows:
    1. 1. Florida Disaster Volunteer Leave is provided for an employee who is a certified disaster service volunteer of the American Red Cross. Leave of absence with pay for not more than fifteen (15) working days in the fiscal year may be provided upon request of the American Red Cross and the employee's supervisor's approval. Leave granted under this act shall be only for services related to a disaster occurring within the boundaries of the State of Florida.
    2. 2. Civil disorder or disaster leave is provided for an employee who is member of a volunteer fire department, police auxiliary or reserve, civil defense unit, or other law enforcement type organization to perform duties in time of civil disturbances, riots, and natural disasters, including an employee who is a member of the Civil Air Patrol or Coast Guard Auxiliary, and called upon to assist in emergency search and rescue missions. Such paid leave not affecting leave balances may be granted upon approval by the President or designee and shall not exceed two days on any one occasion.
    3. 3. Athletic competition leave is provided for an employee who is a group leader, coach, official, or athlete who is a member of the official delegation of the United States team for athletic competition. Such paid leave not affecting leave balances shall be granted for the purpose of preparing for and engaging in the competition for the period of the official training camp and competition, not to exceed 30 days in a calendar year.
    4. 4. Leave for re-examination or treatment with respect to service connected disability is provided for an employee who has such rating by the United State Department of Veterans Affairs and has been scheduled to be reexamined or treated for the disability. Upon presentation of written confirmation of having been so scheduled, such leave not affecting the employee's leave balances shall be approved and shall not exceed six (6) calendar days in any calendar year.
  4. (E) Official Emergency Closings. The President or President's representative may close the University, or portions of the University, in the event an Executive Order declaring an emergency has been issued. When natural disasters or other sudden and unplanned emergency conditions occur which are not covered by an Executive Order, the President or designee shall determine whether the University, or any portion thereof, is affected by the emergency and is to be closed. Such closings will be only for the period it takes to restore normal working conditions. Leave resulting from such an emergency closing shall not reduce employees' leave balances.

Grievance chair: Lauren Christos

[last updated: June 21 2016]

Review more of your rights on the Contract Page

Collective Bargaining Update

Collective Bargaining

As we reported earlier, the UFF-FIU and the FIU Administration have concluded negotiations on a three-year contract (2015-2018). We will be scheduling information and ratification meetings in January. Here is a summary of the negotiations:

Please note that the agreement on salaries applies only for the 2015-16 academic year. Salary is considered a “mandatory re-opener,” which means that unless explicitly agreed to otherwise, it must be negotiated every year. The proposed contract also allows for 5 re-openers per side in the period of the contract as well as any other mutually agreed upon re-opener.

Page references are to the proposed Collective Bargaining Agreement posted at www.uff-fiu.org

Rights, Benefits, Protections Strengthened

Salaries (p. 27-31)

1% retention raise to the base effective January 16, 2016 for all employees employed before July 1, 2015.

1% of 2014-2015 base salary payroll for Merit raise to the base, to be decided by departmental merit criteria, with minimum amount to be $750 to each eligible faculty member, effective January 16, 2016.

Parental Leave (p. 81-83)

One-child policy ended; 26 weeks of Parental Leave may be divided over 2 children, as long as no more than 2 semesters total are affected.

Online (p. 56-63)

Status quo, with language rewritten only for clarification and additional protections of faculty. Language retained: “No employee shall be required to teach a course as an online course...”

External Tenure and Promotion Letters (p. 18-19; 76)

Each department/unit shall decide whether the candidates in their discipline will have access to the external reviewers’ letters, after a democratic vote of the eligible tenured and tenure-earning faculty and according to the department/unit procedures for changing T&P policies.

Promotions (p. 75)

All members of the bargaining unit will now have promotion procedures, including Research Associates and Instructional Specialists

Tuition Reimbursement for Non-Tenure Track Faculty (p. 115-116)

Faculty who do not have the terminal degree but are enrolled in a program to earn it will now have tuition reimbursement at FIU rates for up to 6 credits per semester.

Overload Pay (p. 63)

Overload pay must be at least $1,000 per credit.

Tuition Waivers (p. 114)

Spouses may now take courses with tuition waived without having to enroll in a degree-seeking program.

Grievance Time Limits (p. 22-23)

The time limit to file grievances and complaints has been extended from 30 to 45 days.

Domestic Partners (p. 93)

Domestic partners of same or opposite sex are now recognized in the agreement, and employees have Bereavement Leave at the death of a partner.

Policy Changes (p. 50)

Policies may not be changed without collective bargaining.

Job Abandonment (p. 78)

Days when the university is closed may not be counted as days missed in deciding job abandonment.

Dues Deduction and PAC Contributions (p. 32; 40-43)

Minor changes made at UFF request.

Copies of CBA (p. 34)

Copies of the Collective Bargaining Agreement will only be available online (no hard copies), but will be in searchable format.

Rights, Benefits, Protections Weakened or Lost

None.

UFF Proposals Deferred to Future Bargaining

  • Summer pay for tuition-generating activities like thesis and dissertation direction, not currently compensated.
  • Additional benefits for domestic partners.
  • Increase in overload pay minimum.
[last updated: October 30 2016]

How FIU Spends Its Money - 2014

Spending Street Sign

This report analyzes the trends in Florida International University (FIU) expenditures on faculty and faculty salaries compared to expenditures on administration and administrators' salaries for the years 2004 through 2013. Previous reports were produced in 2004, 2007, 2009 and 2011. This report extends the analysis of FIU's expenditures with data available in October 2013, including faculty salaries through the 2013-2014 academic year. This report supports previous findings that FIU is experiencing administrative bloat, expanding the resources of administration at the expense of instruction, research and service.

  • Download the 2014 report in MS Word format.

Due to the original format of the MS Word document, a PDF version of the file has three parts:

  • Download the 2014 report in PDF format (pages 1-13).
  • Download the 2014 report in PDF format (pages 14-15).
  • Download the 2014 report in PDF format (pages 16-23).
[last updated: October 30 2016]

The Real Reason College Tuition Costs So Much

tuition overload logo

BOULDER, Colo. - ONCE upon a time in America, baby boomers paid for college with the money they made from their summer jobs. Then, over the course of the next few decades, public funding for higher education was slashed. These radical cuts forced universities to raise tuition year after year, which in turn forced the millennial generation to take on crushing educational debt loads, and everyone lived unhappily ever after.

Read more ...

[last updated: October 30 2016]

CFHE

Join the campaign for the Future of Higher Education

CFHE logo

The Campaign for the Future of Higher Education is organized around SEVEN CORE PRINCIPLES that must define quality higher education for the 21st century.

The mission of the campaign is to ENSURE THAT AFFORDABLE QUALITY HIGHER EDUCATION is accessible to all sectors of our society in the coming decades. This is a time of great change in higher education.

Visit the CFHE site.

[last updated: October 30 2016]

Contact Us

Chapter President Eric Dwyer
Grievance Chairperson Lauren Christos

UFF-FIU By-Laws | Contact the webmaster at Webmaster

[last updated: March 21 2017]