Academic Advisor Reclassification
Statement from UFF-FGCU co-presidents:
UFF-FGCU has been informed that the Public Employees Relations Commission (PERC) Hearing Officer’s Recommended Order in regards to our Advisor arbitration has been completed. The final PERC ruling affirming this Order is expected shortly.
Read Order in its entirety, see below for a summary:
UFF objected to Advisors being taken out of unit, away from union representation and the protection of our Collective Bargaining Agreement, without significant change to their job duties. The chapter filed an Unfair Labor Practice charge. A hearing was conducted on June 3rd with PERC and representatives of both UFF-FGCU and university administration.
The Hearing Officer’s Order affirms most of UFF-FGCU’s claims.
Recommendations are listed on pages 41 and 42, including “Restore the academic advisors I, II, and III to their prior status of in-unit faculty rather than out-of-unit administrative and professional employees” and “Recognize the United Faculty of Florida as the certified
bargaining agent for the academic advisors in the bargaining unit.”
The UFF-FGCU Executive Team is pleased with this result and believes it will set an important precedent for faculty rights in Florida.
– Patrick Niner and Scott Michael
Copies of all documents identified in response to UFF’s First Interrogatories to FGCU.
Copy of the five-year strategic plan referred to in paragraph 6(13) of the Answer and Affirmative Defenses..
Copies of all requests from employees occupying the bargaining unit positions of Academic Advisor I, II and II to cease dues deduction of their UFF dues since January 1, 2018.
Copies of the job descriptions/specifications of the new Administrative and Professional positions of Academic Advisor I, II, and III, and the non-unit Administrative and Professional advisor positions existing prior to and after May 16, 2018.
Copies of all proposals or other documents exchanged in collective bargaining negotiations with UFF under PERC Certification 1397 regarding the language or meaning of Article 27.6(A) of all collective bargaining agreements with UFF since its certification.
Response: Respondent understands this Request as pertaining to PERC Certification 1394 rather than 1397. Respondent objects to this Request on the basis of it being overbroad and unduly burdensome. Respondent understands this Request to seek proposals that were exchanged between the Parties from 2007 to present, which represents a time period of collective bargaining negotiations spanning sixteen(16) years. Subject to and without waiving this objection and to the extent responsive documents exist, the UFF is in possession of proposals or documents previously exchanged during such negotiations.
FGCU has filed the attached MOTION FOR CONTINUANCE OF EVIDENTIARY HEARING to postpone the PERC hearing about the advisors UFF in-unit status (that was scheduled for Feb 27th).
Stay tuned for details.
The UFF-FGCU chapter called a meeting with Advisors to discuss ”contingency planning” regarding the PERC (Public Employee Relations Committee) ruling outcome for status of Advisors as covered by the CBA so that UFF-FGCU can hear the Advisors interests. The date is set for Feb 20th from 3-5 PM in Cohen Center 249
1/7/2019 The PERC hearing regarding the Unfair Labor Practice has been scheduled for February 27. 2019, at 9:00 a.m., at the Florida Gulf Coast University. Edwards Hall #309, 10501 FGCU Boulevard South, Ft. Myers. Florida.
Item 24 from ULP:
FGCU violated Sections 447.501(1) (a) and (c), Florida Statutes (2018) by
announcing to bargaining unit advisors that they were no longer in the certified unit and that they
would be receiving salary increases without prior notice to or negotiations with the UFF; by
dealing directly with advisors still included in the certified bargaining unit regarding changes in
their wages and other terms and conditions of employment; by treating advisor positions
specifically included in the certified unit as excluded from that unit in the absence of a sufficient
basis for and a determination by the Commission excluding them; and by conditioning
ratification of a tentative CBA on UFF’s agreement to exclude advisors from the certified unit in
the absence of a determination by the Commission excluding them or a proposal in negotiations to do so.
11/20/2018 Sufficiency Shown for Unfair Labor Practice
9/13/2018 From the UFF-FGCU Executive Committee
Dear UFF-FGCU members:
We are pleased to report that on September 11th the FGCU Board of Trustees approved our new contract, a.k.a the Collective Bargaining Agreement. The new terms and conditions of our employment include across-the-board raises, the correction of several compensation inequities for our instructors, increased merit-based promotion raises and much, much more.
The negotiation and ratification of this contract has been occurring independently from a separate issue: the proposed reclassification of our Academic Advisors from faculty status to staff. Management has determined that advisors are no longer faculty, thus no longer afforded the benefits of union representation. UFF-FGCU is appealing that perception to Florida’s Public Employees Relations Commission (PERC).
UFF identifies the advisors as in-unit and management considers them out; this can usually be creatively navigated in matters of shared governance such that the two realities can exist together without too much disruption to this university’s operation. However, that is not always the case, and the UFF Executive Committee would like to inform you of a recent event in which both positions could not be simultaneously “true,” and a hard decision had to be made.
The Collective Bargaining Agreement that we put forward for your vote here included academic advisors as in-unit employees, since that is exactly what we consider them to be until PERC says otherwise. We began member ratification on August 31st.
Management believed that if that document were put in front of the Board of Trustees, the board’s ratification of the document could be in jeopardy as it conflicts with the BOT’s already-approved Student Success and Enrollment Management plan, which stipulates advisors to be out-of-unit.
As the faculty was voting on the CBA that had been agreed upon by both bargaining teams, management altered the document to remove references to Academic Advisors from various articles and appendices. It was that “advisor-less” CBA that management which management posted to the Provost’s Collective Bargaining website on September 4th, and it was that version that the Board of Trustees was provided. That document is located here. It is identical to the faculty-ratified CBA minus the mentions of advisors.
UFF-FGCU’s leadership became aware of these changes to the contract as our ratification vote was nearly completed.
Therefore, we were forced into a choice:
-Permit the altered CBA to be presented and approved the Board of Trustees, even though it was different than the version presented to the faculty for ratification vote
-Demand that the Trustees vote on the faculty-ratified CBA that includes advisors, which would have involved pulling it from the Trustee’s agenda for September 11th and delaying the bargained benefits for our members until after January, including all raises and promotion increases.
On Monday, September 10th, on the advice of our state UFF officers and our union attorney, the UFF-FGCU Executive Committee decided to permit the altered, “advisor-less” contract to go before the BOT for approval.
This was not an easy decision, but we deemed it necessary as the least destructive of two bad options. Had we forced the issue and demanded the BOT approve a contract that included academic advisors, BOT ratification would have been delayed for months and, once it was presented, likely voted down. None of our new benefits that we worked for nearly 20 months to bargain would happen. We felt as though the faculty’s faith in Dr. Martin’s administration, not to mention trust in the union leadership and bargaining process, would be shattered beyond repair in service of what is, objectively, a classification issue that still needs ironing out by a third party.
The administration has assured us it will abide by whatever PERC eventually rules regarding advisors’ classifications. In short: advisors’ statuses are unchanged, we’re continuing our efforts on their behalf with no interruption, and the faculty is getting its bargained benefits.
This also means that UFF-FGCU permitted a version of the contract that had not been explicitly approved by faculty ratification vote to pass to the BOT.
It is our hope that PERC rules in our favor and academic advisors will be affirmed by FGCU as in-unit faculty, and that the faculty-ratified CBA will become the university’s rightful standard as a result.
UFF-FGCU Executive Committee members, listed below, welcomes member feedback on this situation. You know where our offices are, and our next Executive Committee meeting is on Monday, September 24th at 11:30 AM in Seidler Hall 402 if you’d like to attend.
We hope that the membership will understand our action as necessary to avoid serious disruption to all of our professional lives.
The UFF-FGCU Executive Committee
Win Everham, President
Senthil “BeeJay” Girimurugan, Vice President
Scott Michael, Bargaining Chair
Erik Insko, Membership Chair
Carolynne Gischel, Grievance Chair
Elizabeth Johnson, Treasurer
Nora Demers, Secretary
Jaffar Ali Shahul Hameed, State Senator
Patrick Niner, State Senator
Judy Wilkinson, State Senator
John Griffis, FEA Delegate