During the past six months, USF President Judy Genshaft has been one of the faculty’s least favorite people.
And at Wednesday’s Faculty Senate meeting, Genshaft said she is aware of that, but that it is time for faculty and administration to put their differences aside.
“I find many faculty are very angry and, as one person said, openly hostile toward me as a person,” Genshaft said. “And I would really appreciate the opportunity to work through this time of difficulty so that we can work together as an administration and faculty governance structure.”
However, with the possibility that the administration will extend the temporary emergency rules for an additional 90 days and the union’s refusal to assign the BOT as a bargaining agent, it may be difficult for both parties to put their differences aside any time soon.
Greg Paveza, president for the Faculty Senate, was first to mention at the meeting that USF is in a time of crisis.
Paveza, now a faculty representative on the BOT, said the administration requested more time to draft a set of permanent rules for faculty. After the faculty union’s collective bargaining agreement expired Jan. 7, the administration developed 16 rules that Genshaft said were needed in order for the university to operate.
Because of the faculty union’s expired contract and the governance shift in the state’s universities, Paveza said faculty will need to meet now more than ever and work with leaders.
“I have never felt ignored by this administration since the time I took office as president, but at times to me it appeared that … others have been,” Paveza said. “The faculty needs the opportunity to engage in discussions in shared governance.”
Paveza said he wants to make sure faculty works closely with Genshaft once a collective bargaining agent is named.
Genshaft echoed Paveza’s comments, saying that the only way to work through the governance change in higher education is to work together.
“I do need to consult with the faculty in a better process that allows me to understand the kinds of concerns you have,” Genshaft said.
Genshaft reminded faculty that no university has engaged in a bargaining process but suggested that the union allow the BOT to voluntarily recognize faculty, which would be granted by the Public Employee Relations Commission.
Genshaft said the University of Central Florida chose that option, which speeds up the bargaining process.
But faculty union president Roy Weatherford said he will not let that happen.
“I will not follow the request for recognition, unless or until the Board of Trustees says the current contract continues,” Weatherford said. “Because, if we allow the negotiation for a new contract then the emphasis is on new; and that means … 25 years (of bargaining) lost.”
Weatherford said he’d rather wait for PERC to assign a bargaining agent.
“We have been deceived and put in a position where a recognition was taken away by voluntary action,” Weatherford said.
Genshaft said she doesn’t know how to get faculty to believe her, but her suggestion is meant to aid both the administration and faculty by speeding up the bargaining process.
“We’re not out here to not have unions on this campus,” Genshaft said. “This is an issue all state universities are facing. It’s not a USF issue. I’m sorry he’s making it into a USF issue.”
But Weatherford said the union simply disagrees with allowing itself to be recognized by the BOT.
“There is not a plot on the part of the union to make trouble,” Weatherford said. “I’ve got a lot of things I’d rather be doing than this. I’m sorry if sometimes I get carried away and am a little bit rude, but I feel strongly about it, and that’s what were going to do.”