It’s never good when discussions turn into arguments.
A quick look at the divide between the United Faculty of Florida (UFF) and the University shows this to be true. What should be a reasonable negotiation over financial compensation for faculty employees has degraded into a battle over who is doing what.
Even though such actions are keeping with the history of management/labor relations, needless accusations do not help the faculty of USF achieve satisfactory financial compensation. Such behavior also doesn’t help USF’s management, which has its own reasons to desire a rapid conclusion to the pay problem.
The problem was first publicly aired when USF administrators awarded merit-based monetary achievement awards to certain members of the faculty. As detailed in the Jan. 25 Oracle, USF claimed the awards were not to be paid until negotiations were concluded, but due to an error, three of the 16 people scheduled for the awards received them before they should have. Instead of understanding the error and maintaining work on a mutually satisfactory contract, UFF chapter president Roy Weatherford publicly proclaimed that USF management was breaking the law by changing employment terms without a signed contract.
It didn’t end there. In Wednesday’s Oracle, it was revealed that the Provost’s office released an “Administrative Update on Collective Bargaining.” Again, through an error, the version of the update that was released contained all revisions and notes. Those notes revealed UFF chief negotiator Robert Welker as the faculty member that stands to gain the most from the salary negotiations. Welker has insisted that any amount he personally profits from the negotiations will be given to charity.
If USF and the UFF were truly having a discussion rather than an argument sullied by one-upmanship and strategic positioning, Weatherford would not have found it necessary to publicly denounce USF’s management as malfeasant for something USF admitted was an error and quickly attempted to correct.
Likewise, if USF was less concerned with exposing the UFF’s chief negotiator as an interested party – something it claims was a mistake, but certainly appeared to be purposeful retribution – it would not have found it necessary to point out Welker stands to personally benefit.
It’s important to remember the goal of both parties is a satisfactory employment contract. Unfortunately, it appears that goal has been diminished in favor of accusations and one-upmanship from both sides. This is simply a shame. USF and the UFF would be wise to remember that all of the denunciations and complaints in the world will do nothing to get them closer to what they – and everyone at USF – want.