By: Lanetra Bennett
December 5, 2014
The teachers' union at FAMU says it's stuck.
It declared an impasse over contract negotiations, after two years of trying to come to an agreement with administrators.
The FAMU faculty union says at the root of the disagreement is the fact that FAMU professor salaries are at the bottom of all universities in Florida.
Union representatives say they've asked for a modest salary increase and have now come to realize that talking about it is getting them nowhere.
Dr. James Muchovej has taught at FAMU for 22 years.
"If you take the amount that tuition went up for students during the time I've been there, if I got a salary increase equivalent to that, I would be very happy," said Dr. Muchovej.
Muchovej is also the Vice President for FAMU's faculty union.
They've been negotiating a salary increase with administrators for nearly two years and are now at an impasse.
"We decided that additional negotiations were not going to be productive," said Dr. Muchovej.
Muchovej says the union originally asked for a three percent raise.
He says they were offered one percent and a one percent bonus.
With a median salary at FAMU of $52,000 the offer would result in $520 to the base of faculty members' salaries and another $520 as a bonus.
"We meet with a negotiating team on the other side that we were constantly being told, 'we've got to check to make sure we can do that.' Rather than having someone who actually have the authority to be able to say yes or no right then. That's one of the big challenges we deal with," said Dr. Muchovej.
The union points out that FAMU is ranked last among all Florida universities for full and assistant professor salaries and sixth for all ranks.
Dr. Muchovej said, "I think that over the past probable decade, my salary has lost out to inflation. So, it hasn't even maintained an equal footing."
Now the issue has to go before a special magistrate who will make the final decision.
The hearing is expected to be in January.
News Release: FAMU
December 5, 2014
Impasse was declared November 21 after the UFF FAMU negotiating team decided that further talks with the administration were not likely to yield positive results.
“We were optimistic when Elmira Mangum became president, hoping that her presidency would bring a new beginning and an atmosphere of collaboration between faculty and administration,” said Elizabeth Davenport, president of UFF FAMU. “Unfortunately, her administration seems to be mired in the same internal politics and uncertainty as her predecessors when it comes to faculty salaries. UFF negotiators have waited months for responses to their proposals while the university’s bargaining representatives sought guidance from senior administration officials.”
After waiting for months for the FAMU administration’s salary proposal, UFF bargainers were offered a 1 percent pay raise to the base of faculty salaries and a 1 percent bonus. Given that the median salary at FAMU is $52,000, this offer would have resulted in $520 to the base of faculty members’ salaries and another $520 as a bonus; about half of the $1,000 to base provided to FAMU last year by Gov. Rick Scott's administration.
This proposal was presented despite the fact that FAMU successfully lobbied the Florida Legislature for funds to provide the Pharmacy and Engineering faculty salary increases, resulting in some faculty receiving increases of 25 percent. While UFF-FAMU supported the concept of providing this talented and dedicated faculty with raises, the administration’s proposal for the remainder of the faculty was not so much an offer as it was an insult to those who haven’t seen a university provided raise in several years.
A comparison of FAMU to other universities in the State University System (SUS) illustrates the data that is at the root of this controversy:
UFF-FAMU seeks pay equity for all members of the FAMU faculty and looks forward to resolving this matter before a Special Magistrate and ultimately the Board of Trustees.