State/National News

Settlement of the 2012 Summer Pay dispute, with FAQ



 

Dear Colleague:

Good news!  Your faculty Union (UFF) succeeded in reaching a settlement with UCF about pay due to faculty who taught summer study abroad courses. UCF will now issue back pay to employees who taught Study Abroad in the summer 2012 and who were not compensated according to the contractually agreed rates.

UCF originally claimed to not have done anything wrong. We/UFF filed an Unfair Labor Practice charge with PERC (Public Employee Relations Commission), case number CA-2013-026. To avoid a PERC hearing, where UCF would have to defend against our charge in the face of documentation that UCF itself provided, UCF’s lawyers decided a few days before the hearing that the university would rather settle.

We are pleased that UCF decided to do the right thing: retroactively pay 12.5% of an employee’s annual salary for each 3 credit hour course to all faculty who taught summer study abroad courses but who did not receive the contractually agreed rate. UCF also will pay faculty $1,500 for each course in which they served as “instructor of record” but did not actually teach. If faculty members agreed – without any coercion – that they wanted to receive less or no payment – and if those employees acknowledge in writing that they agree to get paid less or not at all, UCF is not obligated to pay those employees.

Now that the Settlement has been signed, UFF will receive written notification of all individuals affected and payments made; and we will make sure that our colleagues receive what they are due.  UCF also agreed to henceforth compensate employees appropriately as per the bargained rate and other provisions in the CBA.

To see the text of the settlement agreement, the (PDF) document is available on our website.

 

FAQs: How does this settlement affect me?

What if I taught in study abroad in summer 2012 and was underpaid?

If you taught in Summer 2012 and did not receive the CBA-mandated rate of 12.5% of your annual salary for a 3 credit hour course, you are eligible for back-pay. UCF should be contacting you, or you can contact them and copy us, to get into contact about the money you are due.

What if I was instructor of record only?

If you were “instructor of record” but did not actually teach the course, you should be compensated with $1,500 for each three credit hour course. UCF should be contacting you, or you can contact them and copy us, to get into contact about the money you are due. There is one caveat, as the settlement states the following: “If a faculty member was the ‘instructor of record’ of several delineated courses but these courses actually contained only a few students so that the series of courses combined makes the minimum for one course, for purposes of compensation, the series shall be considered a single course.” If you are affected by this latter provision, please contact us if you have questions or concerns.

What if I wanted to volunteer or agreed to less pay?

According to the Agreement, UCF is not obligated to pay a faculty member who “agrees or agreed to waive compensation. Alternately, UCF-BOT is not obligated to provide such compensation to any affected faculty member if it provides written documentation from before performance of the summer abroad assignment reflecting that the faculty member volunteered to receive no compensation.” Please make sure that you were/are not coerced into volunteering your work. We have been able to bargain for the new CBA language that should further protect faculty members from being coerced into “agreeing” to teach for less. But if you genuinely agreed to forego payment for your work in the summer, this settlement agreement does not change that. Please note that you are never obligated and cannot be forced to provide such a willingness to volunteer.  As a faculty union we believe that you should be fairly compensated for your work.

What is ULP? What is PERC?

Under Florida Statutes, we have the right to collectively bargain and both employer (UCF) and employees in our Bargaining Unit need to abide by the bargained agreement/contract. An Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) is a violation of this basic agreement and can take specific forms; it is defined in Florida Statute 447.501. The text of the statute is available online at the State Legislature website  (as is the whole chapter 447 on labor organizations).

PERC stands for the Florida Public Employees Relations Commission and is charged with holding hearings throughout the state on labor and employment disputes. PERC and its staff review hearing officers’ recommendations, and PERC issues a final order, which may be appealed directly to the District Courts of Appeal.

Why did this happen at UCF?

You may recall that your UFF had asked the UCF administration for transparency in how they were paying faculty in the summer. As your faculty union we insist that all employees are treated fairly and equitably, and that we are paid according to the bargained contract.  We had discovered various inconsistencies especially in the study abroad courses taught in the summer. UCF did not agree and denied they had done anything wrong.

We have since succeeded in bargaining for the next contract clear guidelines that allow for UCF’s flexibility yet protect our rights to equitable pay for our work, and that affirm that UCF shall not engage in direct dealing with individual faculty members.

What does this all mean?

We had hoped UCF would be reasonable and that they would want to resolve this issue long before grievances and ULP charges had to be filed. But, once again, it has become clear that we as employees cannot rely on the UCF administration to simply follow the contract they previously ratified. Because we became aware of, investigated, and pursued with legal means resolution to problems in the Administration’s record keeping and non-compliance in compensation for summer courses, UCF was forced to do the right thing about summer 2012. We are also making sure summer 2013 employees were paid correctly. Furthermore, we now have contractual language in place to assert the payment rate and provisions for those who are “instructor of record”.

The UCF Administration tried its best to “make this problem go away” through a PR war against the union, by obfuscating problematic recordkeeping, and by denying that there were any problems to start with. But your union did not give in. We were able to pursue legal actions and reached a settlement that will make whole those who were harmed by the inconsistencies. All of this has been possible because as a group we can accomplish more than any of us we can do alone.

What can I do?

UFF is all of us – and we will continue to do our best to ensure that the contract is followed and all employees are treated fairly and equitably.  If you have not joined your Union, please do so by filling out a membership form – we will be stronger with you as a member.

If you are interested in learning more about the Contract and its enforcement, please contact the Chair of the Contract Enforcement Committee to be informed about upcoming grievance trainings.

Join us at our monthly Bargaining Unit Meetings (listed on our website calendar) to hear about new developments and to share your concerns.

And please do come by one of the UFF Socials to socialize with others!

 

In solidarity,

Claudia Schippert

Chair, Contract Enforcement Committee
UFF-UCF Chapter
claudiaschippert@gmail.com
Associate Professor of Humanities