Broward College union demands reinstatement of faculty counselors let go amid the pandemic

Broward College, Fort Lauderdale. Credit: Broward College.

Broward College faculty counselors who lost their jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic are urging the college to immediately rehire them, saying eliminating those positions wreaked havoc on staff, faculty and students.

The Broward College administration said they planned to “hire lower-paid, non-union academic advisors to replace the faculty counselors,” according to the Broward chapter of the United Faculty of Florida.

The union started a petition in support of reinstating counselors at the college that has garnered over 2,000 signatures.

“The termination of Broward College faculty counselors during a global pandemic jeopardized the livelihoods of 14 veteran employees without notice, or warning, many of whom served as loyal employees for over 20 years,” the petition says.

The petition said that in April “faculty counselors were given at most 20 minutes notice to attend an emergency meeting where the administration announced they were no longer employed at Broward College.”

Teresa M. Hodge, president of the United Faculty of Florida at Broward College Chapter, said in a written statement:

“There is still time for the president and the Board of Trustees of Broward College to exemplify leadership and courage during these difficult times – reinstate our faculty counselors and then invite UFF to the table so we can properly discuss together the best course of action for our faculty counselors.”

During a meeting in late April, Broward College’s Board of Trustees voted to terminate all faculty counselors. Here is a previous Florida Phoenix report on the issue.

According to the board of trustees documents, a Broward College official said in the April 28 meeting that the “reduction in force” proposal was partly due to pay inequalities between faculty counselors and academic advisors.

Marielena DeSanctis, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs and student services, explained in the meeting that “the faculty counselors are performing the same function as those in the academic-advisor job position, but they receive substantially higher compensation,” according to the documents.

“Unilaterally decreasing the pay of faculty counselors is not allowed under the collective bargaining agreement,” DeSanctis said in the meeting.

In a phone interview with the Phoenix, Marshall Ogletree, UFF executive director, said, “We have been meeting every Thursday and we have filed a formal grievance” and added that the local union on campus is considering filing an unfair labor practice.

“We are waiting to see if it’s needed. Right now, we are trying to see if we can get some movement to solve it. We are also trying to provide political pressure from the (Florida) Legislature to tell the president (Broward College President Gregory Haile) to back off,” Ogletree said.