Bargaining Team’s report on the Special Magistrate’s Impasse Recommendations

You may have already read the Gainesville Sun story about Special Magistrate Tom Young’s recommended settlement regarding the impasse over our salaries.

The Magistrate’s charge, under state law, was to weigh evidence introduced by both parties and recommended a settlement in light of the best interests of the faculty, the university, and the public. You can find and read the recommendation in its entirety on our website. In the meantime, here is a brief rundown of its major points.

Special Magistrate Young recommended that faculty receive a 2.75% cost-of-living adjustment, as well as merit raises from a pool of 2.5%–both of these to be retroactive from the beginning of the faculty member’s employment contract (usually July or August). This substantially improves upon the administration’s last offer, which was a 2.5% merit pool, effective January 1, 2016, with no cost-of-living adjustment.

UFF will not object to this recommendation: we feel that it is a positive step in correcting some of the long-standing faculty salary issues that UFF has identified.

The Special Magistrate concurred with our central contention that if UF intends to compare itself favorably to the flagship universities of California, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Wisconsin, it must pay its faculty comparably. In his words:

The single most compelling argument in support of accepting the UFF proposed wage increase is the University’s oft expressed goal to become “more competitive with our peer universities nationally,” and that it seeks “to rise among the nation’s top public universities” – President Machen, March 18, 2014; and, that the University “is committed to achieving employee compensation and graduate student stipends that match our peers.” – President Fuchs, September 24, 2015.  Achieving this noteworthy and laudable goal does not come without a price.  The evidence of record indicates that, among its 10 “peer institutions”, UF ranks 8th out of 11 in average salary for full professors, and at the bottom for associate and assistant professors.  The UFF’s proposed faculty wage increases will contribute to improving the UF’s position in comparison to its peer universities on the national level.

Equally important was the fact that he did not believe the administration’s claims that a larger raise would jeopardize university finances:

Based upon the size of the Unrestricted Net Position and the relatively promising fiscal forecast, it is concluded that the evidence on this record indicates that funding the UFF proposed wage increases is economically feasible and would not unduly burden the budget.

Furthermore, he noted that public taxpayer-funded institutions such as UF have a fiduciary responsibility to use reasonable amounts of their reserves to pursue their mission, and that faculty salaries fall in this category.

Special Magistrate Young did agree with the administration on one key point. He found that the only part of Article 24 (“Salaries”) open for bargaining was that which specifically pertains to our annual raises. As a result, he did not consider our arguments regarding low promotion raises. Nor did he consider our arguments concerning the lack of merit criteria and/or merit-pay committees in some parts of the bargaining unit. While we are disappointed with this part of the recommendation, we believe UFF is well positioned to make headway on these issues in other venues, including the ongoing bargaining over the 2016-19 contract.
We hope the administration will accept Special Magistrate Young’s recommendation, as we have. If not, we will present our case again, this time before the Board of Trustees. Should this come to pass, we will need to stand together. If you are not a UFF member, please join today. If you are not active in UFF, consider joining a committee or volunteering a couple of hours to help your colleagues create a strong faculty voice at UF.

The UFF-UF Bargaining Team
Sumi Helal, Chair (Computer & Information Science and Engineering)
John Biro (Philosophy)
Agnes Leslie (African Studies)
Raúl Sánchez (English)
Candi Churchill, UFF Service Unit Director