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10 December 2021, updated 14 December 2021 (ratification step added)

There is a lot of confusion about how the university negotiates with the United Faculty of Florida and other unions. Since the Senate Chair is a trustee under the Florida Constitution, I have received a number of messages from faculty regarding contract specifics and how the Board of Trustees is negotiating.

Yet, the BOT as a whole is not directly involved in negotiations.

This is a shocker to many faculty, since the contract is between the BOT and the union. Below, I’ll lay out how the university’s bargaining team is connected to the BOT. I won’t cover specific items under negotiation – by law, that’s the UFF’s role, not the Faculty Senate’s. Their website is uffucf.org.

First, the legal name on UCF contracts is “University of Central Florida Board of Trustees”. We see this on our W2 forms and grant award documents, for example. The university-side negotiating team thus calls itself the BOT team, as opposed to the UFF team, and its proposals are called BOT proposals.

However, the team does not report directly to the BOT. Nearly everything the BOT is responsible for – including teaching, research, and community service – is delegated to the president, who delegates it to the vice presidents and so forth. This is done in the Resolution on Presidential Authority. Bargaining with unions is Section 3, item e, on page 6.

Who is the bargaining team, and to whom do they report?

The university’s bargaining team reports to the provost, who reports to the president, who reports to the BOT. The team consists of:

Ms. Sherry Andrews, a labor lawyer in the General Counsel’s Office who reports to the Provost for the bargaining task
Prof. Charles “Chuck” Riley, Assistant Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs and a Professor in the College of Engineering and Computer Science
Ms. Charlie Piper, Director of Contract Compliance and Administrator Support in the General Counsel’s Office
Prof. Florencio “Eloy” Hernandez, Associate Dean in the College of Community Innovation and Education
Ms. Sarah Potter, an employment lawyer in the General Counsel’s office
Ms. Briannis Weston, webmaster

Who determines what terms are brought to the table?

According to Ms. Andrews, who reviewed this article, the salary offer is determined by the provost and president and communicated to the bargaining team. For all other issues, university administrators seeking a contract change work with Ms. Andrews and her team directly. The team consults widely in the administration on these changes and brings a subset of the initial proposals to the table. You can see them and also the UFF’s proposals on collectivebargaining.ucf.edu.

So, is it really the “BOT Team”?

Well, we don’t usually talk like that. Inside the university, when we say “BOT”, we mean the 13 people whose photos are on the bot.ucf.edu website and who are directly responsible to the Florida Board of Governors for the university’s educational, research, and service missions. This group does not meet with the bargaining team, set bargaining terms, etc.

Is there any BOT involvement?

Yes. The BOT Executive Committee (committee of committee chairs; I am not on this committee) oversees bargaining. Since this committee meets only when the BOT Chair requires it, Chair Martins has named three committee members to monitor and oversee the bargaining process. They meet with Ms. Andrews to ensure a compliant and fair process. However, as with all delegated items, they do not meddle with the specifics of the offers. Their role is to ensure a compliant process and to report back to the BOT chair on any potentially hot issues. He directly advises the President between BOT meetings.

When negotiations conclude with the parties in agreement, the union hosts a ratification election for the bargaining unit members. If the contract fails in the vote, bargaining continues. If it passes, the contract goes to the BOT for final approval.

There is much more to say on UCF’s financial condition, including where our next pay raise can come from and when. The very short version is that we are emerging from a period where our finances were stretched very thinly in order to maximize educational access in Central Florida. It will take time to put UCF back on a sound financial footing. I’m convinced the new administration is finally turning things around. There is a long way to go, but there is also some hope along the way, and some short-term relief in sight in terms of teaching loads, if not salary. I will address these topics in future blogs.

In the mean time, I wish all faculty and staff, and especially our students, a happy and well deserved holiday break.

–jh–
Prof. Joseph Harrington
Chair, UCF Faculty Senate
Member, UCF Board of Trustees