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UFF Biweekly
United Faculty of Florida -- USF System Chapter
25 August 2011
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ANNOUNCEMENTS

UFF USF SYSTEM CHAPTER MEETINGS THIS FALL STARTING TOMORROW

This fall, the UFF USF System Chapter will meet on alternate Fridays, starting tomorrow, August 26, at 12:00 noon, on USF-Tampa, in EDU 313. The Chapter will also meet on September 9 & 23, October 7 & 21, November 4 & 18, and December 2. All Chapter meetings will be in EDU 313 on USF-Tampa unless otherwise announced. As always, we will have lunch and drinks, and all UFF USF System employees, UFF members and non-members alike, are invited to attend. Come and join the movement.

THE BIWEEKLY AND THE WEBSITE GET A NEW LOOK

The UFF USF System Biweekly is now being broadcast as an HTML page with live links. In addition, our website has been reorganized, and UFF USF employees should be able to navigate it more readily. We welcome comments, suggestions and volunteers for the Communications Committee. Contact the Communications Chair, Greg McColm for more information.

JOIN UFF TODAY!

Download, fill in, and mail the membership form. You must be a UFF member at the time of an incident (such as a reprimand, non-reappointment, layoff notice, or tenure/ promotion denial) for UFF to represent you in a grievance or future litigation. UFF CANNOT REPRESENT A NON-MEMBER IN A GRIEVANCE OR FUTURE LITIGATION.

IN THIS ISSUE

CHANGES IN FALL

The USF System Chapter of the UFF has been doing things the way it has been doing things since 1976 because that's the way we've been doing things since 1976. But the USF System has grown and UFF is a bigger union and growing fast in a fast-changing environment. We are changing with that environment.

  • THE GRIEVANCE COMMITTEE GETS MORE WORK. More UFF USF System employees are UFF members, and UFF members have the right to union representation in grievances. That may be one reason for the increase in the number of grievances. The Grievance Committee has been reorganized; for more information, see below.
  • THE FALL RECRUITMENT DRIVE. Last spring, educators and education professionals joined the Florida Education Association in response to a flood of radical legislation. The USF System Chapter of the United Faculty of Florida launched a recruitment drive, and will be running a campaign this fall. For one thing, the same politicians under the same leadership will be returning next spring. For more, see below.

ARTICLES

THE GRIEVANCE COMMITTEE GETS MORE WORK

One of the primary duties of a union is to assist members who experience a contract violation; after all, unions are mutual aid organizations. Since the primary legal duty of a union is to bargain and enforce a contract, this assistance usually involves the grievance process.

The grievance process is created and defined by the contract. If a manager violates the contractual rights of an employee by making an arbitrary or capricious assignment, by invading that employee's academic freedom in teaching or research, by fiddling with a tenure packet, or by any other willful or unwitting action or inaction in violation of the contract the employee may file a "grievance" complaint. This grievance must be filed within thirty days of the time the employee knew or should have known of the violation.

That does not mean instant confrontation: in fact, the first phase of the grievance process involves trying to resolve the issue informally. (If this does not work, the next step is a more formal process.) But the time limit does mean that an aggrieved employee should contact the Grievance Committee as soon as possible.

There is one important caveat. In the process, the UFF cannot represent any UFF USF System employee who was not a dues-paying member of the UFF at the time of the violation. UFF membership dues pay for staff and lawyers who assist and advise the Grievance Committee (and the statewide Contract Enforcement Committee), and that costs money. UFF is not a charity, and it only represents members.

During the past year, membership has increased dramatically while academic reorganizations and hard times have contributed to personnel problems in the system. The Grievance Committee anticipates a busy year, and we have set up an on-line system for contacting campus representatives:

Again, a grievance must be filed quickly, so we encourage any aggrieved employee to contact us expeditiously.

THE FALL RECRUITMENT DRIVE

Nearly a third of all UFF USF System employees are dues-paying members of the union, and one reason is that nearly a tenth of the entire bargaining unit have sent in membership forms since January 2011. Many new members told us that they joined because of the legislature, and indeed UFF trumpeted one interesting bill: Representative Scott Plakon presented a bill to strip a union of its authority to bargain and enforce a contract if a majority of the employees it represented were not dues-paying members. This bill would have violated Florida's constitution (which protects our right to collective bargaining), but fighting it would have involved a multi-year court battle, so we were very strongly advised that if a majority of the UFF USF employees were members, it wouldn't affect us.

As luck would have it, Plakon's bill sat in committee and never got out. But the same legislature, with the same leadership, is coming back next spring. And there are rumors about legislators returning to unfinished business. The advice we are getting is: we should strongly encourage UFF USF employees to join, because majority membership would not only strengthen our ability to represent UFF USF employees in bargaining and grievances, it would also strengthen the union in dealing with whatever mischief arises next spring.

We have formed a Services Committee to develop connections with faculty, recruit volunteers to participate in running UFF, and build membership. Recruiting volunteers has an important aspect: when UFF USF reaches majority membership, that will mean that a majority of the dues-paying members are newly joined. And the USF System Chapter of the UFF is a democracy (all executive and representative positions are open for election next spring: UFF members may run and vote; non-members may not). There are opportunities for anyone who wants to build an organization.

We encourage everyone to visit our new Membership page, and join by downloading and sending in the membership form. For more information, contact the Chair of our Services Committee, Mariam Manzur-Leiva.

LOGISTICS

Next Chapter Meeting tomorrow, Friday, August 26, at noon, in EDU 313, on USF -Tampa.

Sandwiches & sodas are provided by the union, 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: 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 you can contact us by filling out the form on our contact page, or, if you prefer, you may go to the page of UFF USF System Chapter officers and representatives and send a message to a particular person.

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.

If you do not want to receive the UFF Biweekly, you can unsubscribe below. If you do not receive the Biweekly, but want to, contact the Communications Chair.

The UFF also sends out a biannual hardcopy newsletter, Uncommon Sense, to the entire unit. Past issues of Uncommon Sense are posted on-line. Articles from past issues of the Biweekly are also posted on-line.