Faculty Union, USF reach agreement

The United Faculty of Florida and USF reached a verbal agreement on the remaining issues of the collective bargaining agreement Thursday. However, the two sides are still working toward a final written agreement.

USF and UFF conducted meetings last week and this week to finalize all the articles of the contract. According to a press release sent out to the university community Thursday afternoon, the two parties had previously agreed on all articles except salaries and release time for union leadership.

Michelle Carlyon, director of media relations for USF, said President Judy Genshaft was pleased with the outcome of the negotiations.

“The president has always said she wants to reward high-performing faculty,” Carlyon said in an e-mail statement, “and we feel we’ve accomplished this with this contract.”

In the verbal agreement, the Faculty Union and USF agreed on the following: a $1,000 bonus — USF will distribute to eligible employees a one-time, lump-sum bonus of $1,000, less taxes, as appropriated by the Legislature during the 2004 Legislative session; a 5 percent merit increase pool — the university will establish a pool of funds equal to 5 percent of the payroll of eligible employees in the bargaining unit; summer compensation — the university and the Union agreed to maintain the original summer compensation plan; additional salary increases — the university will have the authority to provide additional salary increases to individual faculty situations; and finally the two parties agreed on release time for Union leadership — USF will grant release time for 15 courses per year, plus an additional three courses during the semester for which a new contract is negotiated.

Roy Weatherford, USF Faculty Union president, said after more than a year of bargaining and two years of struggling for a new contract, he thinks that the faculty will be pleased with the outcome.

“I am pleased that there appears to be (a contract) finalized in the near future,” Weatherford said Thursday night. “I am not happy, however, how the university chose to release a notice unilaterally instead of issuing a joint statement.”

The negotiations for a new contract began Jan. 7, 2003, when the collective bargaining agreements at Florida’s 11 public universities expired.

Now that the two sides have agreed on the conditions of a new contract, the details of a final written agreement are being worked on and will have to be ratified by the UFF membership and the USF Board of Trustees, the press release stated.

“If we continue to agree in the transformation of the written agreement, then I think the faculty will be very pleased with the process and the outcome,” Weatherford said.

Weatherford said he hopes that the written agreement will be finalized in a minimum of three weeks.

“We will exercise at the most diligent speed possible,” he said.

Since the contract is for the 2004-05 school year, Weatherford said that time is not a big factor, but he wants to make sure no mistakes happen and that those faculty members who filed grievances in the last two years get processed with a contract in place.

“The university did not hear legitimate faculty grievances because there hasn’t been a contract in place,” he said.

Weatherford also added that it is important for people to understand that the faculty raises require looking at evaluations and making market adjustments.

“It is not nearly as administratively controlled as it was last year with the faculty awards,” Weatherford said.

For specifics of the verbal agreement visit http://isis.fastmail.usf.edu/ur/salary/index.html .