A small dose of bureaucracy and the task of retaining power and authority await the University during its bargaining session with the USF chapter of the United Faculty of Florida (UFF) on Friday.
The University’s contract with UFF expired in June at the end of the last fiscal year. No renewal has been made. The contract allowed the Board of Trustees (BOT) to award raises without union approval. It also allowed them to give discretionary raises, some as high as $30,000.
UFF feels they should be involved in the decision process, and rightfully so.
The University is claiming that following the old contract’s terms is based on a legal practice that presumes that an expired contract is in continuance until a new one is drawn.
In the meantime, some professors get neglected by the BOT as it gives out raises of whatever amount to whomever it sees fit.
Chief UFF Negotiator Bob Welker said last year’s raises were not across the board. Moreover, the only raise that was received by all professors was a $1,000 state-level raise that was received by all Florida employees.
The BOT maintains that these kinds of raises should remain the same in order to retain faculty that may be “lured” away by private or higher-paying institutions. But while the BOT continues to cling to its authority, USF professors lose out by remaining loyal to an institution that ignores their presence.
In addition to pay-raise woes, UFF opposes a $10,000 cap the University wants to implement for professors teaching summer courses.
However, the opposition of the cap may go against precisely what UFF is fighting for.
UFF is calling for the summer pay system — which awards professors who have a higher salary more money for teaching the same class as a lesser-paid professor — to remain untouched because it may affect the pension of retiring professors.
If UFF wants to call for fairness, however, they must do it across the board, just like they are demanding from BOT. Requesting raises for all professors but not allowing those who teach in the summer the same pay opportunities is nothing but a double standard.
BOT wants to maintain authority over raises in order to keep faculty who may be attracted to other institutions that offer more money. UFF wants a say in this because the organization wants to fill the banks of tenured faculty when they retire. Neither side is basing their arguments on meritocracy but on who has been there the longest.
Unfortunately, regardless of which side wins Friday, no onewill be more negatively affected than the professors.