Full-Time Professor Union Close to Signing New Contract

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Brian Healy

News Editor

This story is a continuation from our series of articles from last semester covering contract negotiations between administration and the University of San Francisco Faculty Association (USFFA).

USFFA members will soon vote on whether to accept administration’s most current offer of a restructured six-year contract, ending eight months of negotiations that Elliot Neaman, the president of the full-time professor union, described as “very difficult talks” in a letter sent to USFFA members on Jan. 15.

Following two General Membership meetings held Tuesday, Jan. 31, and Wednesday, Feb. 1, USFFA members voted on across-the-board salary increases of at least 2 percent every year for the next six years. Results of the vote are yet to be determined, although the expectation is that members will accept the deal.

 

Negotiations played out publicly on-campus last semester as professors began to wear buttons reminding administration to “Respect Your Faculty.” USFFA members continued protesting at the Major/Minor Fair, and soon after held an informational picketing in front of Gleeson Library that culminated with a march from lower campus to Lone Mountain.

 

Neaman and the rest of the bargaining team for the USFFA presented the contract to full-time professors and asked them to submit their feedback through a survey that would determine whether or not members were in favor of the new contract. Votes designated as ‘Yes’ meant in favor of the contract, whereas ‘No’ meant opposition to new contract.

 

“213 (65.94%) of our members responded ‘Yes’, and 110 (34.06%) responded ‘No,’” said Neaman, adding that feedback they received “ranged from strong opposition to solid support.”

 

After the poll showed overwhelming support for the revised contract, USFFA leadership formally recommended the contract to all of the organization’s members.

 

“The USFFA negotiating team made its decision after examining the recent survey results and on the basis of its studied judgment of the advantages and disadvantages of continuing to fight for a more favorable contract,” said Neaman.

Federal mediation sessions between administration’s negotiating team and USFFA’s negotiating team continued until  Jan. 10, when USFFA’s negotiating team signed a series of tentative agreements with the University, essentially bringing negotiations to a provisional close.

One of the reasons negotiations stalled in the last few months was due to USFFA’s persistence in removing or modifying two particular items on the negotiating list. One was the workload proposal for new term hires, which the USFFA deemed “divisive and unworkable” and had many worried that the proposal would open the door for the University to demand a higher teaching load of all faculty in the future.

The other item of great concern for USFFA members was, what Neaman deemed, “modest salary increases” offered by administration. “In the end, however, we decided that the modest gains in the overall proposal and the stability and insurance provided by a six-year deal outweighed the negatives, though we did agonize over the decision,” continued Neaman.

Salary increases will be paid retroactively to account for the months dedicated to reaching a negotiation; July 1, 2016 for librarians and the start of fall semester for faculty. Salary will see a 2% increase for 2016-2017, 2% in 2017-18, 2% in 2018-19, 3% in 2019-20, 4% in 2020-21 and 4% in 2021-22. The contract allows for salary changes based on inflation to address the changing economic landscape.

Other noteworthy items that have been modified or added to the contract between the University and the full-time professors include:

  •      Increasing the mortgage assistance fund by $1 million. Currently the fund offers second mortgage loans in the amount of 53k, repayable after six years. “These additional funds will allow for larger and more loans,” said Neaman.
  •      The rental assistance subsidy, offered to newly hired faculty, will rise from 5K to 6K next year, and 7K in 2019. “The additional 1K in 2019, rather than later, was a concession we won in the last hours of bargaining,” said Neaman.
  •      The University has agreed to change payroll procedures so that the first paycheck of the new academic year will be issued at the end of August, rather than the end of September.
  •      The University has agreed to allocate childcare subsidies based on salary bands, rather than by rank.
  •      The University will avoid using the word “term” in University publications and on the USF website when referring to term-professors
  •      Gleeson Library department heads will receive additional compensation of 1K per year.
  •      The commuter check will rise to $73 and $75 over the next two years, with additional raises in the later years of the contract depending on SF public transportation rates.
  •      Charging stations for electric vehicles will be installed on campus.

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