Faculty Union could have new bargaining agreement soon

More than a year after USF’s faculty union’s collective bargaining agreement expired, a new contract could be introduced by the end of the semester. USF administration and faculty representatives formed bargaining teams, which have been reviewing the old contract in an effort to write a new one. On Jan. 7, 2003, collective bargaining agreements at Florida’s 11 public universities expired.

But Faculty Union president Roy Weatherford said the bargaining process could have been avoided if administration recognized the existing contract. Instead, Weatherford said the bargaining teams had to start from scratch to form a new contract.

“The administration insisted we lost all contractual rights, so we’re starting at ground zero,” Weatherford said.

Media relations director Michael Reich did not return messages seeking comment on the collective bargaining agreement.

Weatherford said the bargaining teams are negotiating on each individual section of the contract to reach agreements on issues for the new contract. The contract addresses academic freedom, grounds for termination, grievance procedures and arbitration.

Weatherford said the article addressing academic freedom has been examined extensively and the teams are close to an agreement on how it will be defined in the new contract.

He said the negotiations, up to this point, have not had an effect on faculty members.

“More recently, each side is remaining closer to the spirit of the previous contract, so it’s easier to agree on specifics,” Weatherford said. “The most frustrating part is it didn’t start until September, but we didn’t make any progress until November. The idea behind bargaining is you have to give something up in order to get something.”

The bargaining teams were appointed by Weatherford and USF President Judy Genshaft, respectively, and have at least five members each.

Once the bargaining teams are done negotiating all articles of the contract, both the administration and faculty union will decide whether they agree with the team’s result. If it is agreed on, Weatherford and Genshaft will sign the contract, it will be ratified and submitted for vote by the Board of Trustees. All faculty union members will also vote on whether to approve the new contract.

Weatherford said although the bargaining process has been running smoothly so far, neither the administration nor the faculty union have time to delay the issue any further.

“It’s important this be resolved this semester; if we become convinced they’re stalling, there’ll be a crisis. If they’re convinced we’re unreasonable, there’s going to be a crisis.” Weatherford said. “If we’re trying to do it over the summer and (administration) is giving us a hard time, we’re going to be in a bad position and we want to avoid that.”