UFF-UNF and UNF’s Board of Trustees met once again on March 13 to discuss wage increases for the 2019-2020 school year. UNF faculty formally proposed a 6% retroactive salary increase to the BOT, to which they countered with two 3% increases for 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 respectively.
The two sides tentatively agreed on contract language proposed by the BOT to retroactively give faculty a 3% increase effective from August of 2019. Additionally, the BOT also offered a 3% increase to be received on August 5, 2020, as well as a bonus of 1% of recaptured funds to be distributed amongst faculty members that meet performance-based criteria on formal evaluations.
“I think we feel good, I think we’re a little surprised,” UFF-UNF President Kally Malcom-Bjorklund said. “We’re so happy that we’re able to achieve our goals for faculty this year and that we are going to be able to reach a resolution.”
Malcom-Bjorklund said she was surprised they were able to agree with the BOT so quickly on the contract.
“We believe that the efforts of faculty to communicate their concerns and their needs to the Board of Trustees directly, as well as to upper administration,” Malcom-Bjorklund added. “It’s worked. [Upper administration] listened, they paid attention and they’re making moves to ensure that faculty wages are lifted, so it’s a very good day.”
UFF-UNF still had concerns about issues indirectly related to the contract bargaining sessions. Particularly, faculty had questions about a college dean stepping out of their administrative role to go back to joining faculty. UFF-UNF Chief Negotiator Greg Gundlach referenced an administrator – whose contracted salary is $314,565 – is indeed going back to a professor role next year. The administrator in question is Dr. Mark Dawkins, Dean of the Coggin College of Business, based on the state’s public records. Concerns within UFF-UNF arose about whether Dr. Dawkins would retain his administrative contract’s salary. The BOT’s attorney Michael Mattimore said he would look into the situation and discuss the details at a later meeting.
The bargaining session took place a day after UNF announced classes would be moved online for two weeks after spring break due to the COVID-19 pandemic. UFF-UNF members brought up potential issues that the response to the virus would cause to the faculty, including limitations to labs and the available resources on campus. The BOT and UFF-UNF agreed to meet in an appropriately virtual session next week to discuss the ramifications of closing the school and the response to COVID-19.
Malcom-Bjorklund, who is also and associate professor of art and design, said that her classes in particular are going to be substantially impacted by the university’s closure.
“I’m teaching my studio lighting class where students will no longer have access to our state-of-the-art, top of the line studio to make images using strobe lighting,” Malcom-Bjorklund said. “That course will go online and we will have conversations around lighting topics and conceptual issues related to art. And then the semester projects that students are working on, they may change. If they needed our equipment to do that, they will have a modified assignment that’s fair and equitable so they’re not having to start it from scratch.”
Malcom-Bjorklund said that moving classes online may negatively impact professors’ course evaluations, the Instructional Satisfaction Questionnaires (ISQ) that students take for each of their professors. That 1% bonus the faculty agreed on with the BOT is directly related to how well professors score on their ISQ results.
“Students who are upset about their class changing, they may give us that feedback in the ISQ because it’s one of their only ways to express that frustration,” Malcom-Bjorklund said. “But that hurts the faculty member who didn’t have a choice in that.”
Considering the circumstances of social distancing, members of UFF-UNF and the BOT did not shake hands to commemorate their tentative agreement, but both sides were happy to get this contract issue behind them after nearly 10 months of bargaining deliberations.
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