UF and faculty union reach contract agreement


Published: Tuesday, January 12, 2010 at 10:43 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 12, 2010 at 10:43 a.m.

The University of Florida's faculty union has reached agreement on a new contract, after years of negotiations and recent weeks in which a last-ditch deal threatened to fall apart.

United Faculty of Florida and administration negotiators reached agreement late Monday. Union members and UF's Board of Trustees must still approve the three-year contract, but union chapter president John Biro said it was "almost certain" that would happen.

"We're very pleased that after five years or more, we do have an agreement," he said. "It's been a very unfortunate situation not to have one -- bad for everyone concerned."

The deal improves sabbatical opportunities for faculty, he said, creating two-semester sabbaticals at full pay for the first time. But the union conceded ground on another contentious issue -- lagging faculty salaries as compared to UF's peer institutions.

"The end result was we did get to something that was acceptable to both parties," Biro said. "That's what negotiation is all about."

UF's vice president for human resources, Paula Fussell, could not be reached Tuesday morning for comment. But in an e-mail sent late Monday, she declared the agreement had been reached.

"We will now move to the next steps in the collective bargaining process which would include the ratification of the contract terms by the UFF members and the UF Board of Trustees," she wrote.

The agreement ends years of often contentious debate. For three years, UF refused to negotiate and battled the union in court. Negotiations resumed in November 2005 but broke down last year, leading the union to declare an impasse in September.

A special magistrate was set to hold impasse hearings last month before the union and UF reached a tentative agreement. But negotiations on the details of that agreement dragged on four weeks and threatened to break down before concluding Monday.

More details on the contract are expected later today.

Contact Nathan Crabbe at 338-3176 or nathan.crabbe@gvillesun.com.

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