UWF contract negotiations with faculty at impasse, emails and barbs exchanged

Last week, the UFF (representing all in-unit faculty at UWF) declared an impasse in negotiations for the 2014-17 Collective Bargaining Agreement.

UWF President Dr. Judy Bense reached out to the facility members via email to give the university’s side:

The University and UFF have been engaged in full book contract negotiations since July, 2013. During that period of time we have bargained in good faith and signed tentative agreements on 33 of 34 articles. To view the proposed agreement, visit http://uwf.edu/offices/general-counsel/uwf-policies-procedures-notices-regulations/bargaining-meetings/.

If an impasse had not been declared and an agreement had been reached, these tentative agreements would have expanded and enhanced faculty salaries and benefits, and created new opportunities for regular, merit-based salary increases.

HIGHLIGHTS OF TENTATIVE AGREEMENTS and Two Memoranda of Understanding Offered by the University:

2014-15 Bonus: A 3.8 percent one-time bonus for the 2014-2015 fiscal year (one-time bonus equal to 3.8 percent of an employee’s base salary) with a minimum payment of $1,000 and a maximum payment of $3,800.

Sustained performance evaluation system: A program in which tenured faculty would be evaluated on maintaining the level of activity and production consistent with the tenure standards in their department. The evaluation, performed every six years, would have included recurring wage increases for full professors of $6,000 (upon receiving a rating of Tier 1 Distinguished) and $4,000 (upon receiving a rating of Tier 2 Satisfactory) and, for eligible Associate Professors $3,000 (upon receiving a rating of Tier 1 Distinguished) and $2,000 (upon receiving a rating of Tier 2 Satisfactory).

Multi-year contracts for instructors and lecturers: A new framework that would have offered three-year contracts, and a recurring wage increase with every second three-year contract, to high-performing instructors and lecturers.

MOU-Domestic Partner Benefit Program: A Memorandum of Understanding to develop and implement a Domestic Partner Benefit Program.

MOU 2015-16 Wage Action: A Memorandum of Understanding regarding fiscal year 2015-16 to continue the 3.8 percent bonus as a 3.8 percent recurring wage increase if the University of West Florida earns sufficient performance-based funding based on the BOG metrics model for next year. This marks the first time that the University has offered to commit to a wage action beyond the current year. This was an effort to find a way to make a long-term investment in our workforce in the unstable landscape in which we are currently engulfed due to performance based funding measures.

These wages and benefits will be determined by the outcome of the impasse resolution. If the UFF had accepted the contract, then all of the provisions listed above would have gone into effect upon ratification. However, as a result of the UFF’s declaration, the parties are obligated to complete the impasse resolution process (see section 447.403, Florida Statutes).

During the multiple steps of this legal process the negotiated terms of the tentative agreements cannot be implemented.

I will make certain that you are kept up to date as the impasse resolution process unfolds during the coming months.

Dr. Judy Bense


On Friday, Dr. William S. Belk, President of UFF-UWF, responded, challenging Dr. Bense’s portrayal of the negotiations:

Dear President Bense,

In your email of yesterday, which provided misleading information to the faculty and staff, you imply that you are trying diligently and genuinely to boost faculty income and correct salary compression, but, according to you, UFF is preventing this from happening.

I will remind you that the faculty’s representatives at the bargaining table dutifully defended and promoted the Faculty Senate Resolution presented this past semester to you and the Board of Trustees – a resolution not only unanimously passed by the Faculty Senate, but enthusiastically endorsed by the CAS, COPS, and COB Councils, the Staff Council, the Library Council, and the Chairs and Division leaders. (I have attached the Resolution to assure that you have it as a ready reference.) Let me ask you, then, how can you portray yourself as the friend of the faculty when you openly rejected the unanimous will of the faculty?

Please do not ignore the fact that the faculty’s representatives at the bargaining table faithfully carried out the demands of the faculty. Simply put, UFF visibly and consistently represents the needs and interests, the aspirations and visions, of the faculty, while it is obvious to all that you do not.

When you first assumed the interim position as President of UWF, you mentioned that you had no administrative experience above the department chair level, and so you asked for our support based on the fact that you had been a faculty member here for many years, and that you alone understood the concerns of the faculty. It appears, however, that during your service as President you have become quite deaf, whether by volition or by accident, to the voice of the faculty, the very faculty that supported you in becoming our leader.

Dr. William S. Belko
President, UFF-UWF