IN THIS ISSUE
Occupy Tampa on Tomorrow's Agenda
The UFF USF Chapter is a participatory democracy, which means that any UFF member can attend a chapter meeting and participate. So what happens at chapter meetings and why should you come? See below, and for example...
GETTING INVOLVED IN OCCUPY TAMPA.
Waves of protests against a background of organizing and initiatives is sweeping the country. On the agenda tomorrow: should the UFF USF Chapter get involved, and if so, how? If you are a UFF member, you are invited to participate. For more on the issue, see below.
The USF System Chapter of the United Faculty of Florida is a participatory democracy, which means that members not only elect officers and representatives each spring, but they (can) participate in the decision making process. The primary policy-setting and decision-making body of the Chapter is the Chapter itself, all UFF USF members, who are all invited to participate in the biweekly meetings. Participation means listening to the discussion (conducted using Robert's Rules of Order), participating in the discussion, and voting on business items.
For several years, the Chapter has met every other week on a Friday, usually at USF-Tampa, but visiting other campuses (the Chapter tries to have a meeting at each campus at least once a semester). There are sandwiches, chips, soda pop, and an agenda. Non-UFF members are invited, but non-members may not vote on business items (just as non-members may not vote in spring elections for officers and representatives).
Tomorrow, Friday, the Chapter will meet at USF-St. Petersburg, in the Harbor Hall Community Room (Harbor Hall is the building labeled HBF in the campus map of USFSP); all UFF members are invited to participate, and all non-UFF members are invited to check us out.
And what sort of business does the Chapter conduct? Well, one example is a proposal on...
GETTING INVOLVED IN OCCUPY TAMPA
Several waves of protests have swept the world over the past year; or perhaps historians will regard them as a single emergent phenomenon. The current wave started in New York, when Occupy Wall Street emerged in Liberty Plaza two blocks north of Wall Street. According to The New Yorker, the fledgling OWS was the beneficiary of a sequence of mediagenic accidents: a false report of the presence of the English Rock Band Radiohead drew a crowd, and then some NYPD officers lost their heads and pepper sprayed "apparently inoffensive female protestors" in the presence of cell-phones (with resulting videos going viral), and then NYPD provided additional media assistance by arresting several hundred protestors.
By now, demonstrations are global. One of the most civil events was Occupy Tampa, where Tampa police and demonstrators have largely cooperated to minimize inconvenience (and maximize visibility); see the St. Petersburg Times article on Police tell Occupy Tampa protesters to take down tents and tables and the Tampa Tribune article on Occupy Tampa tries to build a movement.
As The New Yorker observed, the movement has no official organization and hence no program. Participants range from unemployed veterans to self-identified members of Anonymous (they're the ones wearing the Guy Fawkes masks) to political activists. If there is an agendum, it is Economics Nobel Prize laureate Joseph Stiglitz's point that 1 % of the public owns 40 % of the nation (including, ironically, Liberty Plaza, which was bought by Brookfield Office Properties and renamed after it's chair, John Zuccotti).
Waves of demonstrations produce energy and enthusiasm that simply dissipate unless they build an organization that will pursue a legacy. With this in mind, several organizations – including many unions – have been joined the movement. Nationwide, and especially in the private sector, the unions that built America's middle class desperately need energy, enthusiasm, and participation. And many of the problems that the OWS-inspired demonstrators are protesting against arose from the decline of American unions.
In Florida, the huge membership of UFF's state affiliate, the Florida Education Association, makes it the 800-lb gorilla in the Florida AFL-CIO. And the Florida AFL-CIO has been very active in supporting the movement, and calling for change. Teachers are angry, and the situation is getting worse.
There are arguments pro and con for getting involved, and getting involved is not without complications and risk. Nevertheless, the AFL-CIO West Central Florida Central Labor Council is advertizing events and Occupy Tampa's website. And FEA members are showing up at demonstrations.
So on the agenda for tomorrow is: should UFF participate, and if so how? Again, ALL UFF MEMBERS ARE INVITED TO PARTICIPATE IN THE CHAPTER MEETING. See you there.