Bargaining may not occur soon

The USF faculty union is stuck between a rock and a hard place — again.

Union president Roy Weatherford told faculty members at Wednesday’s Faculty Senate meeting that they may be far from reaching a sufficient resolution with the expired collective bargaining agreement.

“They’ve made us suffer long enough,” Weatherford said.

Weatherford said the bargaining process shouldn’t be delayed any further now that the Public Employee Relation Commission gave the Board of Trustees the power to be the union’s public employer.

But Weatherford said the university claims it is not the successor employer and, therefore, has no obligation to begin a bargaining process.

The university has stood by its argument that negotiations must wait until PERC certifies the faculty union.

Since the collective bargaining agreement expired Jan. 7, Weatherford said all discussions between the union and administration have been mediated through lawyers.

“Administration has chosen not to talk to faculty,” Weatherford said. “If the only way to reach a resolution is by lawyers, then by all means, we will do it that way.”

If no reasonable alternative for a new contract exists, Weatherford said the union would take legal action with an “unfair labor practice charge.”

“I think it will eventually all work out,” Weatherford said.

USF President Judy Genshaft attended the meeting but did not respond to Weatherford.

Genshaft addressed the Faculty Senate before Weatherford to discuss the legislative session.

“The main theme that we keep working on in Tallahassee for USF is getting money for enrollment,” Genshaft said. “We cannot support instruction and enrollment that we’re not paid for. So we’ll be working on this a lot.”

She added that the university wants to make sure it receives enough money for the operation of new buildings on campus.

“There’s no feeling of where we’re going to end up, it’s too early to tell,” Genshaft said.

At the end of the year, the university president usually addresses the university about the budget. However, because the USF budget will not yet be determined by that date, Genshaft said she will speak to the university April 21 about the university’s future plans.

In other business, Genshaft and Provost S. David Stamps endorsed two proposals for academic policy from the Faculty Senate.

The policies describe a set of standards the university should follow with academic freedom and termination.

Geography professor Graham Tobin added that the Faculty Rules Committee is rewriting the temporary 90 rules that were passed by the Board in January when the collective bargaining agreement expired.

Tobin said they are only working with rules that concern faculty members and hope to have a draft completed by Friday.

The draft would first be shared with the Senate for discussion before being passed on to the administration for formal approval.

But Phil Handy, associate provost for USF, said that could take several months and the temporary rules would be put back into place until a decision on the alternative rules is complete.