Statement on Salary Negotiations
Since April of this year, your Union Bargaining Team has engaged in tenacious negotiations with the Board of Trustees Bargaining Team. We offered several proposals designed to maintain your current level of compensation in the face of the unprecedented increases in the cost of living and inflation we are all experiencing. Despite having given administrators 8% or more in annual raises over the past 3 years, the BOT offered a draconian take-it or leave-it 3% merit raise for faculty.
The BOT and “Merit” Recognizing the dire economic situation, the Florida Legislature gave state employees, excluding higher education, 5.38% across-the-board raises. The boards of trustees at other Florida system universities gave across-the-board raises of 3-5%, or more. UF’s BOT does not care about our faculty’s well-being, ignoring that faculty enabled UF to skyrocket to its top-5 national rank. Instead, UF’s BOT insists on “merit” raises, which historically benefit the friends of the Administration and disproportionately reward those with the highest salaries. The 3% merit raise offered by the BOT is based on the total salary pool of the faculty, establishing the total dollar amount to be distributed. Administrators may then, for example, assign a 9% raise to some and a 0% raise to others. Even if a 3% merit raise is assigned to each of two faculty members, the lower-paid one will receive a small total-dollar raise, while the higher-paid person will receive a higher amount. Cost of living and inflation increases are roughly the same for everyone in dollar amounts; a loaf of bread or gallon of gas costs the same for everyone. But the total cost is a much more significant percentage of a low-paid person’s income than a higher-paid person. Studies show the disproportionate effect of cost of living and inflation increases on those with lower income, and the “merit” system only exacerbates that inequity.
Fair Raise Proposal After several union proposals, starting with a 7% across the board raise, the union has now advanced an equity or fair raise proposal that costs UF the same in total dollars as their “merit” proposal. UFF-UF’s proposal distributes funds across the board according to a salary schedule: a lower-paid faculty will get a higher percentage raise than a highly paid peer. Most faculty would receive raises that might otherwise be denied based on the merit-raise process’s fuzziness and advisory nature. Those in the worst financial shape will be better able to protect their families in these challenging times. Yes, our proposal still lags behind the cost of living and price-index increases. It is a modest but fair proposal that is cost-neutral to the BOT. It is a reasonable compromise. However, in a show of extraordinary stubbornness, the BOT has rejected our equity proposal.
Next steps Your union is investigating all remaining options to continue to seek a fair raise agreement, expecting that the BOT will meet its obligation to offer adequate compensation to its faculty employees. We are considering multiple options, because we believe the BOT is not negotiating in good faith. We are also sensitive to the need for a timely resolution of the negotiations. Some of us may prefer to receive the BOT’s 3% merit raise soon and see an end to the negotiation process. Unfortunately, this implies that many in need could get a 0% raise or an insignificantly slight pay increase.This is a difficult time, but we are fighting to counter the BOT’s lack of respect for the dignity of UF faculty. We ask for your support and patience. When all available options are clear, we look forward to surveying the membership to learn about your preferences and opinions.
—United Faculty of Florida-University of Florida Bargaining Team
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