UF professors to receive 5 percent raise


Published: Monday, August 26, 2013 at 9:44 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, August 26, 2013 at 9:44 p.m.

University of Florida professors would see a 5 percent raise under an agreement inked between administrators and union officials, ending a one-month impasse and ensuring all faculty will get a pay increase this fall.

The three-year contract between Tigert Hall and the United Faculty of Florida's UF chapter must still be ratified by union membership and approved by the UF board of trustees. Once that happens, the new salaries would take effect Oct. 1.

The contract — which took 16 months to negotiate and was stalled by a one-month impasse — covers about 1,700 faculty members in such colleges as engineering, liberal arts and sciences, fine arts and education, or 37 percent of UF's 4,500 faculty members.

In addition to the raises, the contract offers new provisions for research support, and it keeps in place many articles of the old contract, including continued protection of academic freedom and working conditions.

"This is something that we put a lot of effort into. We took a long time to negotiate it, and we're pleased that it's finally here," said John Biro, president of the faculty union.

All eligible faculty will get a raise approved by the Legislature — $1,400 for those earning $40,000 a year or less, and $1,000 for those earning more than $40,000 a year, Paula Fussell, vice president for human resources, announced in a letter to faculty.

UF President Bernie Machen approved additional funds for faculty merit pay increases, which brings the total raise pool to 5 percent, Fussell said.

The total pay increase for all faculty is an estimated $35.7 million, Fussell said. For faculty in the collective bargaining unit, the increase in pay is estimated to be $8.6 million, she said.

"We're very pleased with the ability to provide raises for our faculty covered by the collective bargaining unit, and at the same time for other faculty," she said.

Negotiations were going smoothly until UF administrators declared an impasse in July when the two sides failed to agree on some of the terms. The contract signed Friday is not much different than the offer made a month earlier.

"Candidly, I think they realized it was good contract," Fussell said. "Declaring the impasse gave them time to think. And they didn't want to delay raises for faculty."

Biro said he could not account for the administration's reason for the impasse, because the two sides were so close to agreement. But, he said, "That is water under the bridge."

Except for promotions and tenure, many faculty have not seen a pay increase in years. All faculty received a 3 percent raise in 2012 to make up for the Legislature's requirement that they contribute 3 percent of their salaries to their pensions.

Biro said the merit pool is 3.85 percent — up from UF's initial offer of 3.5 percent, "not a big difference but every little bit helps."

Since there has not been a merit increase in three years, Biro said, the amount of merit pay faculty receive will be based on the three last years, not just the last year.

In addition, the contract maintains a 9 percent raise for promotions, and a new agreement on summer appointments of 12.5 percent of a professor's annual salary for a three-credit course.

"That has been all over the place, and now it is standardized," Biro said.

More important than the salaries, Biro said, are the articles carried over from the old contract that protect academic freedom, tenure and promotion, layoffs, grievances and the like.

"We managed to agree on all those things without major changes," he said. "Those are much more important in a way than how much people get this year … and we are extremely pleased with the result as far as those matters are concerned."

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