Luther Coggin, Toni Crawford, O’Neal Douglas, Wilfredo Gonzalez, Steve Halverson, Ann Hicks, Judith Solano, Bruce Taylor, Carol Thompson, Kevin Twomey, and Jerry Watterson.
Edythe Abdullah and Wanyonyi Kendrick.
Chair Thompson asked for a motion to approve the minutes from June 22. Trustee Douglas proffered the motion, it was seconded by Trustee Halverson and approved unanimously. Chair Thompson said she appreciated the trustees’ participation, remarked on the gravity of recent local and world affairs, and expressed her hope that all were faring well during the summer months.
Dr. Serwatka asked to change the order of the agenda items so that Dr. Campbell could discuss the ratification of both the police and AFSCME union agreements before returning to a concurrent meeting on negotiations for the faculty union agreement. The Board agreed and Chair Thompson asked President Delaney to frame the discussion on the agenda items.
President Delaney said that the agreement with AFSCME had been recently approved by the bargaining committee and he hoped to have it ratified by September 1, as discussed in the shade meeting. The agreement with the police union was set for approval by the end of the month. President Delaney said he was almost positive the contract before trustees would be approved as written and, further, that the contract was nearly identical to what had been discussed in the shade meeting.
He said the item on block tuition was a request from the Chancellor and apologized for the late notice. He noted that both he and President Brogan had expressed to the Chancellor that the time given to answer some of the requests from the Division of Colleges and Universities was rather short. Indeed, President Brogan had asked that she allow more time. President Delaney said he knew that the Board of Governors was under time constraint as well in working on the budget. He added that he appreciated the participation from so many of the trustees and asked Dr. Campbell to discuss the union contracts.
Dr. Campbell said she was very pleased to report that agreements had been reached with both AFSCME and the Teamsters union. Negotiations had gone extremely well and were overwhelmingly supported by the University community. Regarding the AFSCME contract, she noted that, in accordance with discussion in the shade meeting, a 2 percent salary increase had been included as of September 1, along with a $1000 bonus as of December 1. Also included was a $50 transportation benefit, which might encourage use of the outer lots and help to alleviate some of the parking problems. President Delaney added that the $1000 bonus was mandated by the Legislature and that the transportation benefit made parking free for employees, though, if they chose they could pay the difference for premium parking.
Dr. Campbell said that with respect to the Teamsters union, she had found the union to be very easy to work with and quite professional. That contract included a 1 percent across-the-board salary increase, also effective September 1, as well as the $1000 bonus mandated by the Legislature. The contract instituted a modified step pay plan as the University did not have sufficient funds for full implementation. Dr. Campbell said it was the University’s intent to add to the step pay plan in future years. The plan would go into effect October 1. The Teamsters had not yet ratified the contract but it was overwhelmingly supported. She expected it to be ratified August 24-25.
Trustee Halverson directed several questions to Dr. Campbell. He confirmed that the $1000 bonus was mandated by the Legislature and not discretionary or tied to merit in any way. President Delaney said University administration was trying to determine whether there was authority to award the funds in some other way pursuant to contract. However, the pay classes represented by AFSCME and the Teamsters union were lower paid employees, thus the cost of living increases and the flat bonuses. AFSCME had agreed to present plans for merit programs for the coming year, a very progressive step, linking future compensation increases to merit. Trustee Halverson asked for metrics for both unions: the number represented by each, average salary ranges, and total dollar amounts involved in the contracts. Dr. Campbell replied that about 20-25 employees were represented by the Teamsters and about 1200 by AFSCME. She said she did not have the other information requested on hand but would get it to Dr. Serwatka so he could forward it to the Board. President Delaney added that the average salary for the employees represented by AFSCME was around $25,000 and ranged from about $18,000-$30,000 and that the average was slightly higher for the police union, which ranged from approximately $20,000-$35,000.
Mr. Halverson also wanted to know if UNF’s bargaining efforts had been coordinated with other universities. Dr. Campbell said that UNF had handled the bargaining efforts independently, and had, in fact, been out in front in these efforts. President Delaney offered that in conversations with other universities, both he and Vice President Shuman believed the University’s union contracts would be in the ballpark of contracts eventually established at other universities. He added that University administration was hoping for a breakthrough in the contract negotiations with faculty on one item related to promotion. Trustee Halverson asked if anything about the contracts caused Dr. Campbell or President Delaney concern. Dr. Campbell responded that the contracts were patterned after existing UNF employee policies and did not contain anything not already outlined by those policies. President Delaney said there were no items that the University would have preferred were not included and that the contracts were good for all parties involved. Trustee Taylor asked how the agreements squared with the University’s budget. President Delaney answered that they were exactly what had been projected, budgeted, and discussed in shade meetings.
Chair Thompson said the Board did not wish to appear presumptuous by ratifying the police contract before it was approved by the bargaining committee. President Delaney said the Board would normally wait to ratify the contract until after their meeting next week, but had hoped to avoid a second conference call of such short duration. All indications were for unanimous approval and the bargaining committee was in accord with the idea of having prior approval by the Board of Trustees contingent upon the outcome of their meeting next week. Chair Thompson asked for further discussion or questions, then, when none were forthcoming, requested two separate motions: one to ratify the AFSCME contract and another to ratify the contract with the police union subject to its approval at their meeting next week. Trustee Hicks offered a motion to approve the AFSCME contract. It was seconded by Trustee Gonzalez and approved unanimously by the trustees. Trustee Coggin moved to approve the Teamsters’ contract subject to its approval by the bargaining committee. Trustee Taylor seconded the motion and it was passed unanimously. Chair Thompson and President Delaney expressed their appreciation of Dr. Campbell and the bargaining teams for their efforts on behalf of University personnel.
President Delaney discussed the next agenda item. He said the Governor and the Board of Governors had asked for input from the Board of Trustees and University staff on block tuition. The Board of Governors was asking for a proposal from the universities by September 1, in response to a request submitted by the Governor during the last legislative session to explore the idea of block tuition. He said the theory behind block tuition was that it would encourage students to take heavier class loads so they would graduate earlier. In late spring, the Board of Governors had asked for volunteers to attempt block tuition. The University of Florida originally showed interest in the idea but later decided against it. Other than UF, there were no volunteers. Now Chancellor Austin had asked universities to submit proposals for how they would deal with block tuition.
President Delaney said he had asked Dr. Perkins and Ms. Janet Owen to come up with the proposal, now included in the trustees’ packets. The University had underscored that there was a cost associated with instating a block tuition program. Given that, they developed two alternatives: multi-block tuition for all university students and multi-block tuition only for specific academic majors in high need areas such as nursing, teaching, engineering, and technology. The plans would apply to tuition only, as fees would still be needed for student services. The administration met with leaders of student government and they were very much in favor of the proposal. Student government did not want the fees cut either as it would result in less money for much needed student services.
President Delaney pointed out that the Board of Governors was not asking for a predetermined outline or instituting a one-size-fits-all plan and was allowing universities to come up with their own ideas of what might work best for them. Dr. Serwatka added that his understanding was that the Board of Governors was trying to collect ideas from each board of trustees. He was not sure if the Board of Governors planned to amalgamate all of the ideas into one plan or if each university would be allowed to have their own plan, but he believed that they did want to support the Governor’s initiative in some form. He said the proposals were primarily an information gathering exercise at this time. The first university to come up with a proposal thus far had been Florida Atlantic. That university’s board of trustees had rejected the proposal as the board did not feel that block tuition would work for that institution.
Chair Thompson said she wondered philosophically where the Board of Governors was going with the request. She felt that a good deal of further discussion on the matter was required and expressed concern about trying to continue the topic during the conference call as it had originally been scheduled as a short call. She asked if trustees could read over the material and submit questions to President Delaney for further information at a later meeting.
President Delaney noted that requests such as the proposal would usually have been submitted to university staff rather than the board of trustees. He thought the main issue for trustees might be whether or not they were interested in block tuition as a device to encourage students to graduate more quickly at all as there was a price tag associated with the option. The second issue, he said, was whether trustees wished to delve deeper into the proposal.
Trustee Gonzalez said he would like to know how the issue affected study abroad. Chair Thompson was interested in how the proposal would affect Bright Futures and the prepaid college funds but said she knew the trustees would probably have many questions. She asked them to submit their questions to President Delaney for discussion at the next meeting. She said that she knew the next meeting must be held soon to meet the September 1 deadline and asked trustees to look at their calendars to determine a suitable date. Trustees agreed on Wednesday, August 25 and expressed a preference for a face-to-face meeting rather than a conference call. Chair Thompson thanked everyone for participating. Dr. Serwatka thanked the Board, stating that University staff would get their raises a little sooner thanks to the trustees.
Chair Thompson adjourned the meeting.
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