United Faculty of Florida -- USF System Chapter
4 October 2012
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CHAPTER MEETS TOMORROW AT USF ST. PETERSBURG
The USF Chapter of UFF will meet at a USF St. Petersburg tomorrow, Friday: at 12 noon, we will meet in DAV 236 in St. Petersburg. There will be sandwiches, chips, and soda pop.
This semester, we will meet on alternate Fridays, at 12 noon, at the following locations.
Come and check us out.
- On October 5, in DAV 236 on USF St. Petersburg.
- On October 19, in CPR 345 on USF Tampa.
- On November 2, at a location to be determined on USF Sarasota / Manatee.
- On November 30, in SOC 145 on USF Tampa.
REMINDER : PLEASE FILL IN BARGAINING SURVEY
On Monday, we sent a Biweekly Special to all employees of the UFF USF Bargaining Unit with a letter from UFF USF Chapter President Paul Terry asking people to fill in a survey for the UFF USF Bargaining Team. The Bargaining Team will use the results of this survey to develop bargaining priorities, so please send it in before October 15.
REMINDER : TIME TO CHECK INSURANCE
Open enrollment is a good time to make adjustments. Open enrollment this year runs from October 8 to November 2, and to get details, visit the Benefits Fair.
Meanwhile, you should check your paystub at GEMS self-service (via MyUSF) to make sure it's in order.
IS YOUR VOTER REGISTRATION CURRENT?
If your address is new, if you have changed your name, if your signature has morphed, you will have to update your registration if you want to vote. And if you plan to vote by absentee ballot, you will have to apply for one. There are links to local county supervisors of elections on our Election 2012 page. And important dates to remember:
- Deadline to register to vote: October 9.
- Early voting: varies by county, so check your County Supervisor of Elections.
- Deadline for applications for absentee ballots: October 31.
- End of early voting: early voting not permitted after Saturday, November 3.
- Election Day; absentee ballots due November 6.
JOIN UFF TODAY!
Download, fill in, and mail the membership form. Benefits of membership include the right to run and vote in UFF chapter and statewide elections; representation in grievances (UFF cannot represent a non-member in a grievance or litigation); special deals in insurance, travel, legal advice, and other packages provided by our affiliates; free insurance coverage for job-related liability; and the knowledge you are supporting education in Florida. AND YOU CAN JOIN NOW AND AFTER A TERM AS A DUES PAYING MEMBER, YOU WILL RECEIVE A $ 100 REBATE after a full term. Come and join the movement.
THE UFF SENATE AND THE ELECTION
The United Faculty of Florida (UFF) is a statewide union, representing faculty at all Florida public universities (at least, those that actually exist) as well as many colleges. The primary policy-making body of the UFF is the Senate, which met during the Sept. 22 – 23 weekend to review the past year and look forward to the next.
- The Election. We have a critical stake in the outcome of the fall election, especially those legislative races we are prone to ignore. But there are limitations on what we can do, both as union members and as teachers. For more, see below.
So What Does the UFF Senate Do?
The UFF Senate meets twice a year in central Florida, to hear reports, compare notes, make decisions, and plan strategy. Senators represent faculty and professionals at their own institutions, and are elected by UFF members at their own institutions. (In these elections, all dues-paying UFF members -- and only dues-paying UFF members -- may vote.) Each institution gets one senator per 25 UFF members. This year, the UFF Senate had a record 141 senators attending (and bringing along 67 proxies).
Left to right: UFF (statewide) President Tom Auxter; just behind him in the gray shirt, UFF UF Gainesville Chapter President John Biro; in center UFF Retired (and former UFF USF Chapter President) Roy Weatherford; and seated right, UFF USF Chief Negotiator Bob Welker.
While much of the nation and most of the media is focused on the presidential race at the top of the ballot, speakers at the UFF Senate meeting two weeks ago stressed the legislative races. When UFF (statewide) Executive Director Ed Mitchell said that "This is one of the most important elections in our work life, if not the most important," he was referring to the outcome of the legislative elections.
During the last legislative term, an alliance between Governor Rick Scott and the legislative leadership damaged higher education on many fronts, from cutting $ 300 million in higher education funding to ripping out USF Polytechnic. They also indulged in micromanagement, such as cutting general education requirements. The UFF Senate was warned that we can expect more strangulation and micromanagement during the next legislative term.
UFF President Tom Auxter reported that the Legislative Leadership reacted angrily to UFF's partially successful efforts to block bad legislation during the last term. Republican legislators who had supported education in the last term were called in by the Leadership and chewed out, and then the Leadership poured millions of dollars into primary campaigns to defeat insufficiently radical Republican candidates.
The unions are the strongest and most effective voice for education in Florida – and the academic administrations are being undercut by gubernatorial pressure on the boards. Since a more reasonable legislature would be very helpful, the unions are spending a lot of time thinking about the election.
A lot of time was devoted to the election, partly to what unions and teachers can and cannot do. For example, a union may not spend dues money on federal election campaigns (our policy is not to spend dues money on election campaigns, period). And there are many rules about how union endorsements can be publicized, which is why UFF has launched a Facebook Page for UFF and other union endorsements. On the other hand, UFF can directly appeal to people to vote, hence our Get Out The Vote poster, posted at our website.
The situation is similarly complicated for teachers communicating with students. As Mitchell observed, there is an ethical problem with a teacher appealing to students to vote for or volunteer for a particular candidate. After all, that's not what the students are there for. But under the ancient if unfashionable principle that a teacher has the duty to teach students how to be responsible citizens, a teacher may encourage students to read newspapers, to study the issues and the candidates, and to vote. Indeed, it may be a worthwhile lesson in civics to remind students that under America's federal system of government, local judges, mayors, commissioners, and legislators have enormous influence on their lives, from their traffic tickets to their tuition, so they should take the bottom of the ballot seriously.
There is always a banquet at a Senate meeting, and this year the speaker was from the League of Women Voters, who encouraged us to Be Ready To Vote. The League has put up a site for students, Rock the Vote, and went to court to blocked a law targeting third party voter registration; voter suppression, said the speaker, is one of the most disturbing trends in our state and nation today.
And one of the most effective ways to discourage voter suppression is to make sure it doesn't work.
Next Chapter Meeting tomorrow Friday, October 5, at 12 noon, in DAV 236 at USF St. Petersburg.
Sandwiches, chips, and soda will be provided by the Chapter, 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: All employees 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 email@example.com.
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