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FSU Primer on Contract Rights and Other Benefits

Belowis a primer on some key rights and benefits enumerated in your collective bargaining agreement (we sent a separate primer specifically to our NTT and Clinical Professor members with additional information; you can see that here). We also include some information on a few other key issues that members have frequently asked about.

The items below are by no means exhaustive so we strongly encourage you to read through the contract and other key policy documents:

FSU contract and contracted related info, including the Academic Policy Handbook, or ‘Red Book’

Board of Trustees policies, including policies on intellectual propertyconflicts of interest, and non-discrimination and harassment (please note that the Administration and FSU are currently working to complete policies and procedures on sexual harassment and sexual misconduct; we will update members when we have more information; current UMB policy and procedure on sexual harassment can be seen here).

Provost Office policies

Responsible Conduct of Research and Scholarly Activities Policy

ORSP Research Policies

General employee (HR) policies

Here is the primer organized within a few general categories. Do not hesitate to contact us if you have questions on this or any other matter.

Teaching/Classroom/Student/Evaluation

► Additional students above course capacities: For both in-person and distance learning courses, once course capacities are reached, only the individual faculty member may admit additional students (see Article 15.4 of the contract for more information). Faculty members have full discretion in this regard.

► Enrollment caps increases: Departments and faculty, not the Administration, set enrollment caps for all courses (see the language in Article 15.4 of the contract). If student enrollment caps are increased, or if you disagree with the caps, talk to your department.  

► Annual Evaluations (Annual Faculty Report, or AFR): Tenure track and non-tenure track members must complete the AFR (the ALR for Librarians) in order to be considered eligible for merit raises (see Article 33 of the contract). The AFR also serves as one of the central components of promotional review and failure to complete AFR’s may result in promotion denial.(NOTE: the FSU has agreed to allow a change to the AFR whereby members may voluntary list their involvement in community engagement endeavors; see here for more) A few members have indicated to the FSU that comments made in their AFR’s are inaccurate and/or seem to be reflective of possible disciplinary intent. The FSU Grievance Committee (GC) is advising these members that they should add their own comments to the AFR that address any assertions and/or inaccuracies they believe to be in the AFR comments made by the DPC, chair, etc. The GC is following up on these cases to determine if there are any contractual implications of adding such comments to the AFR. Please let the FSU know if you have concerns about inaccurate and/or potentially disciplinary comments being added to your AFR.

► Teaching evaluations:  Departments decide how to evaluate teaching, and multiple methods are encouraged.  From Article 33.4 of the contract:  “Each department, program or other analogous unit shall develop or adopt one or several modes appropriate to the process of evaluating teaching in that unit, as well as procedures for the administration of student evaluations of teaching. Over time, the annual evaluations of teaching should attempt to capture the total contribution of the candidate to the instructional mission, both inside and/or outside the classroom, through multiple modes of evaluation, not just student evaluations. For faculty involved in graduate education, the annual evaluation should address their effectiveness in advising and mentoring graduate students.”  Don’t like the way you are being evaluated for teaching?  Discuss this in your department. 

► Teaching Schedules and Course Assignments: The administration is required to consult with faculty members on their preferred teaching schedule and, whenever possible, to assign courses to faculty in their areas of expertise (see Article 15.7 and 15.8 of the contract). That said, the administration has managerial prerogative in the final determination of teaching schedules and course assignments. We advise members who are assigned courses they do not feel qualified to teach to accept the assignment but note in their AFR and/or to their chairs in writing that not enough time was given to the member to properly prepare for the class as refusing an assignment could result in discipline (the note in the AFR and/or to the chair can provide formal context in the event student evals are not positive; we do not recommend that members  indicate they are unqualified  to teach the courses).

► Distance Learning: Regulations on DL courses are governed by Article 35 of the contract as well as a few other memoranda of agreement between Admin and the FSU. You can see all of that information here. Some key points to be aware of: members who develop DL courses will be paid a $3K course development fee (the amount may vary for so called ‘departmental model’ DL courses- see III.B of ); the developer of a DL course has the right of first refusal to teach that course; a $500 royalty fee will be paid to the official developer of a DL course when another faculty member teaches the course; the university no longer pays add comp per student for any DL courses that exceed the stated student course capacities (see more here). 

NOTE: The Covid crisis and the ensuing transition to all distance learning has complicated the operative DL regulations. The FSU has recently filed a grievance regarding the Administration’s assertion that there is a distinction between distance learning and remote courses for purposes of applying Article 35 of the contract. We will keep members updated on the progress of this grievance and how it will impact the current distance learning regulations (see more here).

► Continuing Ed (CE), Navitas, and Shorelight Courses: CE courses are defined as any course offered during the Summer or Winter months, on weekends during F/S, or at satellite campuses (see Article 36 of the contract). All other Fall/Spring courses, including CAPS and DL courses, are NOT considered CE as defined by the contract. F/S CE courses are paid at the member’s standard rate. Summer/Winter CE courses are paid a floor of $5,100 per course ($4,500 for Associate Lecturers). CE courses are also subject to a separate priority list regarding assignments. Navitas and Shorelight courses are treated the same as any other in person course or DL course for purposes of salary, course assignments, etc.

►Audio/video recording of faculty:  Some faculty have noted that this has occurred without permission and posted in politically-motivated social media.  To prevent this, know that audio or video recording of class lectures and discussions is against UMB’s Student Code of Conduct, and under Massachusetts state law, it is a crime to secretly record a conversation. (Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 272, § 99}  Instructors’ lectures are proprietary, and students are entitled to expect that the opinions they express in the classroom are confined to the educational experience of the classroom. Students requiring special accommodation can request permission to record class material, but formal documentation must be provided by the Ross Center. 

► Distressing Students: Get assistance from the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs office if you are dealing with a distressing or distressed student (see here for more information). If at any time you feel that you or your students’ safety is at risk from a distressed or distressing student, please call public safety immediately.

Asserting Contract Rights/Discipline

►Right to Have a Witness In Meetings With Your Supervisor:  You have the right to have a union witness present for any meeting with your supervisor that is of an investigatory nature or may have disciplinary repercussions (see the MTA primer on Weingarten Rights).

►Contract Violations- Asserting Your Rights: Contact the FSU office if you have questions about your contract rights or if you think these may have been violated.  The contract specifies that if you want to proceed with a grievance should you think these rights have been violated, you need to file a grievance within 60 days from the date of the infraction. (See also the FSU primer on the grievance procedure.)

►Discipline and Dismissal: The principle of progressive discipline will be applied when members fail to perform their minimum assigned duties or they engage in workplace misconduct (see Article 17; see also the BOT policy on employee conduct and the Provost’s memo on minimum faculty responsibilities). This means that the administration is required to engage in the disciplinary process by first seeking informal resolution then only applying more stringent disciplinary measures when the prior efforts do not result in improvements in performance or changes to conduct.  The exception is for instances of egregious misconduct in which case the Administration may move directly to more severe forms of discipline, including dismissal (note that egregious misconduct is not defined in the contract). Dismissal can only occur for cause and must follow the procedures outlined in the contract (see Article 18 for TT dismissal procedures and Article 21.14 for NTT dismissal procedures).

Benefits

►Medical/Sick/Parental Leave:  Because of your union, you have many options for medical and family leave.  Besides unpaid leave mandated by the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)  and the Commonwealth’s new Paid Family Medical Leave (state laws), if you are benefited (i.e. 50% or more), you are also eligible for sick leave and parental leave through the FSU contract (all tenure track faculty members, all librarians with 4 months of service, and all NTT with 3 year of full-time  service are eligible for a paid semester of parental leave. Tenure track faculty who take a parental leave may also opt to delay their tenure decision year (see Article 27.3.5(g) for more info).  Your sick leave time accrual, as well as other information on sick leave, can be seen in Article 27.3.3 of the contract.  (To find out how much individual sick leave time you have accrued, contact Human Resources directly).

Furthermore, once you use up all of your sick leave time, you can apply for additional time from the Sick Leave Bank.  (See Article 27.3.3(g))

When contacting the Administration/Human Resources regarding a possible medical leave, be sure to ask about your paid sick leave option from the contract and, if needed, time from the Sick Leave Bank. You cannot be compelled to take time via FMLA or its MA state equivalent in lieu of the paid sick leave that you are eligible for under the contract. Please contact the FSU if you have any questions or concerns about this.

►Tuition Credits: Bargaining unit members who are 50% or more, as well as their spouses and dependents, are eligible for tuition credits. The credits vary and depend on a number of factors, including whether or not the courses are Continuing Ed, graduate versus undergraduate, years of service of the faculty member in question, etc. The percentage of the credit granted and who is eligible for the credit can be seen in Article 27.10 and 27.11 of the contract (for total tuition dollar amounts contact each campuses Bursar’s Office).

►Phased Retirement: Tenure track members and NTT/Librarians on continuing appointments may participate in this program that allows members to reduce their percentage of time to 50% for up to 2 years prior to separation from the university (see Article 27.14 for more info).

►Longevity Bonus: Retiring bargaining unit members (TT, NTT, and Librarians) are entitled to 1.5 days of pay for every year of service (see Article 27.8). Retiring members should contact HR prior to their retirement date to ensure the payment will be made.

Merit Raises/Additional Funds

►Merit Raises:  The 17-20 contract suspends all merit pay in favor of pure across-the-board increases.  The successor contract is still being negotiated so we are not clear yet on if merit will be included in the final agreement and if so, what the merit criteria will be (see Article 26.2 of the current contract for the criteria that would have been used had merit raises been applied).

►Additional Compensation: Compensation to members who are already at a full-time load (i.e. 100%) will be in the form of add comp, meaning it will not go on base pay and will not be counted as creditable time for purposes of calculating retirement income, etc. Members who are less than 100% time should not receive any of their compensation in the form of add comp. Rather, it should be paid as salary up to 100% time. Work paid as add comp is voluntary and cannot be mandated by the employer. Similarly, there is no contractual obligation to provide add comp assignments to unit members who are already 100% (for more, see the Board of Trustees’ add comp policy here).

► Research and Educational Support Funds (RES Funds): All unit members who are 50% or more are eligible for these funds (see here for more info).

► Travel Funds: The FSU contract provides up to $1,000 for tenure track faculty to present research at conferences (see here for more information). In addition, colleges may have their own non-contractual funds for travel. The travel funds dictated by our contract are not subject to change or removal unless changes in these funds are negotiated and agreed to between the FSU and the administration. However, the college-level funds are subject to change or removal, and colleges are not required to negotiate with the union before omitting or changing these. Therefore, we strongly recommend that faculty members check with their colleges to make sure that any non-contractual, college level funds are still available before making any travel plans to conferences, etc. that rely on these college level funds.

► Salary Anomaly Fund:  A pool of $60,000 will be allocated each year to address salary anomalies. A committee comprised of FSU and Administration members is tasked with reviewing existing anomalies and allocating funds accordingly. The criteria for when a member is eligible for an anomaly adjustment along with other salary anomaly info can be seen in Article 26.9 of the contract (the basics: anomalies will be examined when a faculty member goes through a major personnel review such as 4th year review, promotion to tenure, PMYR, etc). Please note that only tenure stream faculty and librarians are eligible for funds from the anomaly fund; also, the University Anomaly Committee is still working through a backlog of a few years of review; we will update members when the committee ‘catches up’ on their reviews.

Additional Items

► Guidelines To The Tenure Process: The process for tenure and other personnel decisions are outlined in broad strokes in Article 12 of the contract and in the Red Book.  The FSU also has a general guideline to the tenure process that can be seen here. In addition, The Office for Faculty Development and the FSU host tenure workshops each year. Stay tuned for more information. We also encourage you to seek out additional information from your department, college and other colleagues. 

► Delay In Tenure Decision Year: Members who take paid parental leave have the right to delay their tenure decision year by one year if they so choose (see 27.3.5(g) of the contract- subsequent requests for delays in TDY due to a 2nd parental leave are at the discretion of the department chair). Members may also request a delay in the TDY for other reasons as outlined in 27.13 of the contract and Section 6.2(e) of the Red Book. Requests for such a delay require the approval of the administration.

► Sabbaticals: Upon receipt of tenure or upon completion of 6 years of service, whichever is sooner, tenure track faculty members are eligible for a one semester sabbatical at full pay (see Appendix C; Librarians with continuing appointments are also eligible for a sabbatical after 6 years; see Appendix C(L)). Subsequent sabbaticals may be taken at various time frames utilizing accumulated sabbatical credits (the ‘flexible sabbatical’, members also have the ability to take a non-consecutive sabbatical, i.e. a two semester sabbatical spread out over different years). The member’s percentage of time and thus pay will vary depending on the number of applied sabbatical credits. Members should be aware that taking a sabbatical at less than full time pay will have an impact on their creditable time for retirement. Sabbaticals taken at less than 50% will also result in a loss of benefits eligibility. Members should also be aware that any money paid directly to the member (i.e. not given to the university) via grants as part of the sabbatical will NOT be counted as creditable time for purposes of retirement. Sabbaticals are subject to the approval of the Administration as outlined in section 2 of Appendix C. If you have been denied a sabbatical request and are concerned about the basis for such a denial please let the FSU know.

► Periodic Multi-Year Review (PMYR): Tenured faculty will be subject to this review every 7 years (see Article 34 and Appendix A of the contract; Librarians are also subject to a PMYR; see Appendix A(L)). This review is NOT a disciplinary review and cannot be used as such. Members undergoing PMYR are eligible for up to $2,500 in development funds. Notification of eligibility for PMYR will be given by the Administration to the faculty member in accordance with the timeline in the Master Academic Calendar. Please contact your chair if you believe you are eligible but have not been notified.

► Personnel File: The administration will maintain a file for each unit member that contains all personnel action forms, promotion review materials, individual contracts, and all formal correspondence between the administration and the member, including matters related to discipline (see Article 24 of the contract). Members have a right to view their personnel files and may add their own materials to the file at any time (if you wish to view your file, contact HR and/or the Provost’s Office).

► Appointment and Reappointment Forms (Individual Contracts):  Upon hire or reappointment, bargaining unit members will receive an appointment form (Offer and Acceptance for Appointment or Reappointment Form, or O&A; see Article 14 of the contract). This form, once signed by all parties, represents the formal commitment of the university to the member and will include information on salary, job responsibilities, etc. Initial letters of offer are not the equivalent of an appointment form/individual contract and the terms and conditions of such a letter may not be binding. If you did not receive a formal appointment form/individual contract, please let us know.