United Faculty of Florida -- USF System Chapter
10 January 2013
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CHAPTER MEETING TOMORROW NOON IN EDU 150
The first UFF USF Chapter meeting of the year will be on USF Tampa in EDU 150. On the agenda (among other things):
All UFF USF employees – UFF members and non-members alike, faculty and professionals alike – are encouraged to come and check us out.
- Organizing. The union's ability to effectively represent UFF USF employees is directly proportional to our membership. We urge UFF USF employees to join today.
- The legislature. The governor and the legislative leadership has not abandoned its plans to … reform … higher education this spring, which means that the union will be busy educating legislators.
- The election. Every spring, the Chapter elects new officers and representatives. For details on the election, see below.
ABOUT UFF MEMBERSHIP
This being the Taking-Stock-and-Making-Resolutions time of year, a few reminders about how UFF membership may be appropriate.
AND YOU CAN JOIN NOW AND AFTER A TERM AS A DUES PAYING MEMBER, YOU WILL RECEIVE A $ 100 REBATE after a full term. Come and join the movement.
- You must join to become a member. UFF USF employees are not automatically members, even though the union represents them in bargaining. Florida is a "right-to-work" state, which means that in order to be a member, an employee must send in a membership form.
- Once you join, you remain a member: you do not have to renew your membership.
- Dues are 1 % of salary. Dues are typically deducted from your paycheck, and you can check your paystub on GEMS self-service (accessed via My USF) to make sure the deduction is in order. UFF recommends that employees check all their paystubs to make sure that everything is in order.
- The primary benefits of union membership are the right to union representation in a grievance, the right to vote in chapter and local elections for union officials and representatives, and the knowledge you are supporting your colleagues and higher education. Additional benefits include special deals in insurance, travel, legal advice, and other packages provided by our affiliates; and free insurance coverage for job-related liability.
Tomorrow, the Election Committee will present the details of the election to the chapter. Here is how the election will work.
Meanwhile, the UFF (statewide) organization is also electing statewide officials, using voter lists that have already been composed. UFF members should watch their mail.
- All elected offices and representative seats are up for election. The incumbents are listed on the people page on the UFF USF site.
- All dues-paying UFF members, and only dues-paying UFF members, may run and/ or vote in the chapter elections. The deadline for nominations (including self-nominations) will be February 15; any UFF USF employee who wishes to participate in the election, either as a candidate or a voter, must be a UFF member as of February 15. That means that a UFF USF employee who wishes to join and participate in the election must have their membership form received by February 15.
- The election will be conducted electronically, using a website (VotingPlace.Net) specializing in secret ballot elections. All eligible voters – i.e. UFF members as of February 15 – will receive a letter at their home by first class mail. The letter will include an ID code, which will allow members to vote at that website. Voting will take place from March 1 to March 10. The website will tally the votes, but will not indicate how any voter voted. New officers and representatives will assume their elective positions on April 1.
IN THIS ISSUE
The USF Administration needs to know how faculty and professionals are doing in order to reward meritorious performance, assist employees with difficulties, and determine the Administration's own progress in advancing the university's mission. But administrators are not clairvoyant, which means that data on performance has to be reported to the Administration, along with expert evaluations of that data. Despite the bother, we have to take annual evaluations seriously.
- How Evaluations are used. Assessment data and evaluations are used for more than just merit pay raises. They are used in computing almost any kind of pay raise, in tenure, promotion, and "sustained performance evaluations". Since much of the data consists of productivity measurements, they can be used for evaluating entire academic units. For more, see below.
- What You Should Submit. While a few things are automatically reviewed, evaluation committees and supervisors tend to rely on employees to report their activities – so employees should compose a checklist of things to report. For more, see below.
- What You Should Expect. The contract imposes restrictions and makes requirements on the evaluation process. In addition, the evaluation process benefits the university if and only if it is conducted appropriately. For more, see below.
How Evaluations are Used
The Collective Bargaining Agreement (the contract between USF UFF faculty and professionals and the USF Board of Trustees) spells out how evaluations are to be conducted and the results used. The evaluation process itself is described in Articles 10 & 11 (pp. 21 – 27); more on that below. But what are they used for?
First of all, they are used in computing raises and bonuses, per Article 23. Merit pay raises are typically computed using the numbers (1 to 5) generated by the annual evaluations (other data are also often used in computing merit pay raises). In addition, across-the-board, compression-inversion (i.e. market equity), and discretionary (i.e. ADI) raises often limit eligibility to employees at least meeting minimum evaluation benchmarks – and sometimes, these requirements extend back several years prior to the year the raises are awarded.
Secondly, recall from the 29 November 2012 Biweekly that many UFF USF employees increase their salary by promotion or by moving from one line to another. Annual evaluations, and some of the data that they were based on, are often required for promotion packets, and letters of recommendation are often written by the same supervisors who composed the annual evaluations.
Finally, Article 10.3(B) provides for Sustained Performance Evaluations (SPE) to determine if employees are performing at a satisfactory level; the contract requires that an employee who has been rated at least satisfactory in each of the six years prior to the SPE shall be rated as at least satisfactory in the SPE.
All the above applies to evaluating individual employees. Academic units are also evaluated on the basis of grants applied for and / or received, courses, publications and creative works, and service. Decisions on how much resources to provide, and how much micro-management to impose, can depend on these evaluations.
What You Should Submit
Faculty report their activities via the Faculty Academic Information Reporting (FAIR) system, a Business System in My USF. This system receives your annual assignment information from those AFD/FAR forms you are supposed to check and sign regularly. Note: the computer thinks your assignment is what the AFD/FAR form says it is, and if the computer uses your assignment in computing your annual evaluation …
Then there is the annual report.
Supporting documents are tricky. Evaluators responsible for reviewing a lot of faculty may give them cursory looks, if that, so it is usually a good idea for teaching, research, and service statements in FAIR to be roadmaps to any material that the evaluator may want to check.
- Teaching. The contract says (ahem!): The teaching evaluation must take into account any relevant materials submitted by the employee, including the results of peer valuations of teaching, and may not be based solely on student evaluations when this additional information has been made available to the evaluator. But all that FAIR itself provides is, for each course, a single number representing the average response to the eight questions in the student survey. While some evaluators may, as a matter of policy, obtain the publicly available matrices of Student Assessments of Instruction, and even copies of student comments, many evaluators rely on employees to provide this material. In addition, teachers may provide class materials, results of exams, evidence of student progress, etc.: the contract requires that evaluators look at this additional material.
- Research. The contract says: Evidence of research and other creative activity shall include, but not be limited to, published books; articles and papers in professional journals; musical compositions, paintings, sculpture; works of performing art; papers presented at meetings of professional societies; and research and creative activity that has not yet resulted in publication, display, or performance. Faculty are supposed to enter this into the Vita-Bank system, but faculty have been known to copy and paste their reports into their research statements, which is not a wise idea since many administrators use Vita-Bank when checking stuff. It is a good habit to simply enter works into Vita-Bank as they are completed, and thus avoid the January rush. Notice that there is a Research Module where Vita-Bank offers up stuff for you to enter. Note: Vita-Bank is stuck in the 20th century, with archaic questions about regional versus international publications, etc. Feel free to enter impact indices and other 21st century data as appropriate. Don't forget to check to make sure that Vita-Bank entered all grants applied for and what the results were.
- Service. As far as the computer – and many administrators – are concerned, if it isn't reported, it didn't happen. Don't forget to enter the minisymposia you organized, the journal editorial boards you served on, the papers you refereed, etc.
What You Should Expect
According to 10.3(A), an evaluation of 2012 performance, an evaluation conducted during the spring of 2013, must be completed and provided to the employee by the end of June.
Considering USF's aspirations, the evaluation process should be a tool providing faculty feedback on how they are doing. That would mean:
The evaluation process functions effectively only if employees and supervisors are engaged in improving their (collective!) performance.
- There would be clear criteria, so that faculty would know what they are expected to do. For example, if a department wanted faculty to publish in high impact journals, the evaluators should ask faculty to provide the impact numbers for the journals that they publish in, and then rate faculty positively for such publications. An opaque evaluation process, in which criteria are not announced (or even never discussed, even among evaluators), is less likely to encourage faculty performance.
- Positive reinforcement would be more important than negative reinforcement. Human beings, like many other animals, respond more readily and effectively to reward than to punishment. Furthermore, if a human being is not performing adequately, they improve more readily if they have some assistance: the contract recognizes this in 10.3(3), which says that "[u]pon written request from the employee, the persons responsible for supervising and evaluating an employee shall endeavor to assist the employee in correcting any major performance deficiencies reflected in the employee's annual evaluation."
Next Chapter Meeting tomorrow Friday, January 11, at 12 noon, in EDU 150 at USF Tampa.
Sandwiches, chips, and soda will be provided by the Chapter, and all UFF members are invited to attend. Non-members are also invited to come and check us out. Come and join the movement.
Membership: All employees in the UFF USF System Bargaining unit is eligible for UFF membership: to join, simply fill out and send in the membership form.
NOTE: The USF-UFF Chapter website is http://www.uff.ourusf.org, and our e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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