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UFF Biweekly
United Faculty of Florida -- USF System Chapter
23 June 2016
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Chapter Meeting Tomorrow on Tampa

The UFF USF Chapter will meet tomorrow, Friday, at 12 noon in Temple Terrace, just east of USF Tampa, at CDB Restaurant (5104 E. Fowler Ave., at 51st & E. Fowler). Everyone is invited to the Chapter Meeting. There will be pizza, salad, and drinks. We will continue to plan for the fall semester.

We will continue to meet this summer, on alternate Fridays, at noon, at CDB Restaurant, on July 14. The Biweekly will continue during the summer, coming out on July 13 & 27.

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If you have been the victim of a violation of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, you have thirty days from the time you knew or should have known of the violation to file a grievance. If you are, and at the time of the violation were, a dues-paying member of the United Faculty of Florida, you have the right to union representation. To contact the UFF USF Grievance Committee, go to the online contact form. For more information, see our web-page on grievances; see also the main article (left).

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Faculty and Professional Retention

Yes, we are now in our thirteenth month of bargaining the annual reopener that was supposed to be wrapped up last summer. Since the contract governs all raises, that means that almost all raises are being held up - almost all, for we understand that almost half of the discretionary raise money that the Administration got two years ago is still sitting in large pots in the Patel Center (deans and chairs, take note). Naturally, the amount of money for raises is one of the primary issues in bargaining. So naturally, we continue our discussion of salaries and related issues.

  • Salary Erosion. In the last two biweeklies, we looked at the erosion of buying power of in-unit employee salaries after inflation. Erosion is becoming a national issue. For more, see below or click here.
  • A Glance at Retention. We take brief glance at faculty and professional retention at USF. For more, see below or click here.
But first, an alert reader observed some typos in the description of financial mathematics in the previous issue. The corrected article is posted online. We apologize for the goof, and thank the alert reader. And if you see something dubious, feel free to send us a (polite) comment, correction, question, or criticism.

Salary Erosion

Recall that the last two biweeklies focused on buying power of salaries of full and associate professors and of instructors and other professionals. These were only snapshots: we only looked at full-time people who were here seven years ago and are here now, with largely the same terms of employment. (This means that the snapshots minimized statistical noise at the cost of introducing some bias into the sample.) But while the result did not give the whole picture, it did suggest that many USF faculty and professionals were suffering some erosion of their salary's buying power.

Faculty salary erosion is becoming a national issue. In March, the National Education Association's Advocate observed (see page 6) that over 2009 to 2014, the buying power of "average" fulltime salaries in Florida declined by 1 %. Not bad, considering the national blight described in the NEA's graphic:

Graphic from NEA Advocate, March 2016
Right click for larger image.

The NEA is not the only one concerned. The University of Washington is switching to a "tiered" salary system as part of its effort to address salary erosion. Or, more precisely, as part of its effort to address one of the more visible consequences of salary erosion: compression and inversion.

(Salary compression is when junior hires are hired at salaries close to those of senior faculty and professionals, while salary inversion is when the junior hires have salaries higher than those of senior faculty and professionals. This is a consequence of salary erosion: when the market keeps up with inflation, while salary raises do not, the result is compression and inversion.)

U. Washington is planning to have numerous "tier" promotions to reward and encourage performance (replacing the merit raises that they now have) and then having smaller annual raises to keep up with inflation. See the Inside Higher Ed article for details. The result should be similar to the University of California's step system.

A glance at the graphic above shows that California faculty suffered more salary erosion than Florida faculty. Of course, that graphic covers all of California, not just U. California, but it does suggest that fixing the salary structure will be neither easy nor cheap. It is, as always, a matter of priorities. U. Washington was worried enough about faculty retention to do something about it.

A Glance at Retention

So how is USF doing in retaining its faculty and professionals? In the previous issues, we used rather blunt instruments to get quick answers; we do the same here. We take six snapshots of the entire bargaining unit - 12 March 2009, 24 August 2010, 24 February 2011, 20 August 2012, 6 October 2014, and 11 October 2015, spanning seven years as the first snapshot is in a spring and the last in a fall - and ask what percentage of fulltime employees in the bargaining unit as of the first snapshot are in the bargaining unit (in any job, not just the one they were in originally) in each subsequent snapshot.

We break the bargaining unit into categories, but that leads to apples-and-oranges issues. Assistant professors and associate professors are assistant professors and associate professors, but we dump the distinguished, research, eminent, and other special faculty into the full professors. Instructors include lecturers and instructor librarians and such (and many instructors became Instructors II and III). Professionals are everyone else, from librarians to physicians. Here is the result, with all five categories starting at 100 % in 2009:

Retention of Faculty and Professionals Present in 2009

The size of the bargaining unit varied from 1,613 to 1,678 employees during these snapshots, so the size of the bargaining unit was fairly stable. If the bargaining unit consisted of employees who tended to stay from twenty to forty years, we might expect to see 20 % - 35 % attrition over seven years. At USF, attrition among professors falls on the high end of that scale (we would expect attrition among tenure track professors to be higher), but the attrition among instructors and professionals suggests that they do not stay as long.

Contra Dilbert, salary is not the only motivator for performance or retention. But it does play a major role, a point well understood in the business community today: after all, executives and administrators command high salaries in order to keep them on the job. And if retention is currently not at desirable levels, it may be a good time to think seriously about salaries.


Chapter Meeting tomorrow Friday, June 24, in Temple Terrace, at CDB Restaurant, 5104 E. Fowler Ave.

There will be pizza, salad, and drinks. All UFF members are invited to attend. Non-members are also invited to come and check us out. Come and join the movement.

Membership: Everyone 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 uff@ourusf.org.

About this broadcast: This Newsletter was broadcast from uff.ourusf.org, hosted at ICDsoft.com, and is intended for all members of the UFF USF Bargaining unit (USF faculty and professionals at most departments). A (usually identical) version will be broadcast to USF-News and USF-Talk from mccolm@usf.edu.

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