One advantage of being represented by a union is having a contract that enumerates rights and privileges. And one of the major duties of a union is enforcing that contract. That means if the contract is violated, there is a legal recourse. Our contract is the Collective Bargaining Agreement, which the United Faculty of Florida (representing you) and the USF Administration (representing the USF Board of Trustees) bargained and signed. This contract governs academic freedom, assignments, evaluations, conflicts of interest and outside activities, salaries, tenure and job security, promotions, sabbaticals and professional leave, etc., etc., etc. The contract takes precedence over USF regulations and the faculty handbook (which are composed unilaterally by the USF Administration under the direction of the USF Board of Trustees).
But sometimes the contract is violated. An assignment or an evaluation can be capricious, the tenure or promotion procedure can be violated, participation in governance can be curtailed, the possibilities are endless. The contract provides for a grievance process for dealing with contract violations: a grievance is a complaint that the contract has been violated. Notice that a grievance concerns a contract violation: injustice and incompetence are not, in themselves, grievable. In addition, the contract requires that a grievance be filed within thirty days of the time when the grievant knew or should have known of the contract violation.
The Grievance Committee consists of faculty volunteers who help colleagues in trouble. The Grievance Committee use some helping hands (for some reason, consolidation has generated an unusual number of grievances) and will run a training session in June. The session is open to all UFF members; if you are interested in helping your colleagues, if you would like to become familiar with the contract and the grievance process, if you are having difficulties in your job, you are welcome. Thursday, June 13, at 9:30 am, at Perkins Restaurant on 5002 E. Fowler Avenue, just east of USF Tampa. We will provide breakfast.