The United Faculty of Florida’s first priority is preserving jobs. In fact, we have strong protections against layoffs in our Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), and we have a proven track record of preventing layoffs during times of financial crisis, such as 2008.
But 2020 is not 2008. Earlier this year, UF introduced the idea of instituting a furlough policy in the expectation of major cuts to the university’s budget. But these cuts never materialized. UFF-UF therefore demands that the University tie its furlough plans to demonstrated fiscal exigency.
To date, UF has failed to demonstrate anything of the sort. Instead, all available indicators suggest that UF’s financial position is excellent:
- The University plans to hire 100 new faculty as a part of its AI initiative
- It has set a new university record with over $900M in annual research funding
- The UF Foundation’s investments are performing incredibly well
- The University’s asset-to-liability ratio currently sits at 4-to-1 (when 1-to-1 is considered adequate)
- UF has enough carryforward state E&G funds (the revenue stream that pays most faculty members’ salaries) to weather even a 20% cut to this funding stream
- Many political watchers expect new federal stimulus to state and local governments, with provisions that prevent drastic cuts in any category including higher education
Given the University’s sound financial health, UFF-UF suspects that the proposed furlough policy is about administrative prerogative rather than financial need: a strategic effort to use concerns over the pandemic’s financial fallout to expand administrators’ authority.
We hear our members’ concerns about the potential loss of wages and benefits associated with furloughs. We hear our members’ concerns about how fairly furloughs would be allocated and by whom. And we understand that, if there is demonstrated need, we should prioritize furloughs over layoffs.
In such an event, we want to ensure that:
- UFF-UF has a say over when furloughs are implemented and who is impacted
- The highest-paid employees bear the highest percentage of cuts
- Employees making under a specified minimum salary be exempt
- Cuts are instituted uniformly across colleges and units.
We stand strongly opposed to any use of furloughs aimed at subverting shared governance or implementing surgical cuts.