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UFF Biweekly
United Faculty of Florida -- USF System Chapter
16 November 2017
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Chapter Meeting Tomorrow in Tampa

The Chapter will meet tomorrow Friday at 12 noon on USF Tampa in EDU 161. There will be sandwiches, snacks, pop, and sweets. All USF employees are invited, especially UFF members and employees thinking of becoming UFF members. On the agenda: preparing for the rest of the semester - and the chapter election next spring. Come and check us out.

The remaining UFF Chapter Meetings this semester will be on November 17 and December 1 in EDU 161. Come and join the movement.


This year, the USF Chapter of the United Faculty of Florida will be celebrating the Holiday Season with two events.

  • Our Annual Holiday Social will be on Tuesday, November 28, from 11 am to 2 pm, in the Marshall Center's Sabal Room (MSC 3700, on the third floor, just to the right and around the corner from Top of the Palms); all UFF USF employees, UFF members and non-members alike, are invited to attend. See the flyer for details.
  • The Annual Toy Drive conducted by the West Central Florida Federation of Labor will collect new, unwrapped toys for children ages 0 - 18. Toys can be brought to a Chapter Meeting or the Holiday Social (see above), to the Holiday Social, or delivered to the receptionist at the USF Tampa Department of Mathematics & Statistics (CMC342). The Children's Home Society of Florida has provided us with a list of gift ideas.
Here's to a happy holiday season.

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. Come and join the movement.

$ 500 Travel Grants for UFF Members

The USF Chapter of the UFF will award six $ 500 Travel Scholarships for next spring and summer. This will be for travel for participation in a professional activity. All applications are due by November 28, and only UFF members are eligible. In addition, no recipient of the Spring or Summer 2017 cycles of travel grants is eligible to apply. The six recipients shall be selected by lot at the December 1 chapter meeting. For more information, see the Travel Scholarship Flyer.

This initiative is part of our membership campaign. If you would like to become active in the UFF USF Membership Drive, contact the Membership Chair, Adrienne Berarducci (click here).


If you have been the victim of a violation of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, you have thirty days from the time you knew or should have known of the violation to file a grievance. If you are, and at the time of the violation were, a dues-paying member of the United Faculty of Florida, you have the right to union representation. To contact the UFF USF Grievance Committee, go to the online contact form. For more information, see our web-page on grievances; see also the main article (left).

Visit Us on Facebook

Visit the United Faculty of Florida at USF Facebook page. This page is a place where UFF members can exchange thoughts and ideas. The page is "public", but only dues-paying UFF members are eligible to post items on the page. If you are a UFF member, ask to join on the page, or contact the Communications Committee. The Committee will invite every UFF member that asks to join. So check us out. UFF members are welcome to join, and non-members are welcome to look.


Union Meetings II: The Assembly

The United Faculty of Florida is only one union "local" in the Florida Education Association, which represents over a quarter of a million K-20 educators and staff across Florida. With over 140,000 dues-paying members, the FEA is affiliated with both the American Federation of Teachers (the AFT) and the National Education Association (the NEA), and is thus part of a network of union organizations spanning the country with over four million members. The FEA is a democracy, and its primary policy-making body is the Delegate Assembly, which meets every October to hear reports and set policy.

  • The FEA Delegate Assembly. Delegates observed an anniversary, heard reports, and went through a full agenda. For details, see below or click here.
Meanwhile, we are watching both Washington and Tallahassee for legislation that would impact higher education and unions.
  • Watching Legislation. Two bills, one in Washington and one in Tallahassee, would impact higher education and unions. For details, see below or click here.
Another UFF USF Travel Scholarship awardee describes the professional activity a scholarship helped facilitate.
  • Rehabilitation Research. Tina Dillahunt-Aspillaga reports on the American Congress of Rehabilitation Conference in October. For details, see below or click here.
Holiday season has arrived. 396 years ago, fifty English pilgrims and ninety Wampanoag natives celebrated Thanksgiving over venison with mustard sauce. Happy Turkey (and Venison) Day next week, and remember that the National Safety Council asks everyone to drive safely.

The FEA Assembly

The FEA Delegate Assembly is the primary policy-making body of the Florida Education Association. The delegates are elected by FEA members, each delegate representing a union "local" in the FEA (UFF is one of these union locals, so UFF members elect delegates representing higher education). Each October, nearly a thousand delegates converge on Orlando to hear reports and set policy.

The Assembly started with memories of the past and reports on the present. Fifty years ago, during the 1967-68 academic year, 40 % of Florida's schoolteachers resigned en masse (it was not technically a strike, although most writers call it that) to protest Governor Claude Kirk's vetoing a tax and funding package for school buildings and raises. The FEA observed the anniversary of the first statewide teacher's strike by having a panel of participants describe job conditions back then (no special education, no planning time, often no textbooks) and what the strike was like (it divided friends, neighbors, and teachers; some businesses ran advertisements thanking the teachers for walking out while others ran advertisements demanding that they go back to work). In the aftermath, the Florida Constitution acquired a provision for collective bargaining - and a prohibition of strikes by public employees.

Turning to the present, an Institutional Racism Session led by Professor Ibram Kendi of American University explored institutional racism, which the National Education Association (the NEA, one of FEA's two national affiliates) characterizes as "norms, practices and policies" of institutions that have the effect of oppressing racial and ethnic groups. He chaired a panel consisting of NEA President Lily Eskelson Garcia, NEA Vice President Becky Pringle, President Randi Weingarten of the American Federation of Teachers (the AFT, FEA's other national affiliate), and AFT Secretary-Treasurer Loretta Johnson. Kendi argued that racism is like a cancer, and must be addressed. Weingarten argued that if not resisted, bullying will simply get worse and dangerous. Eskelson argued that affirmative action hiring plans must be developed and implemented.

The major issue was the budget. Union dues are divided between the union locals, FEA itself, and the national affiliates (the AFT and the NEA). Since most of FEA's locals are county-wide teacher's associations, most of the dues goes for staff support of locals (UFF has roving staff support for colleges and universities across the state). The second biggest item in FEA's budget is "legal services / member advocacy": all those lawyers for grievances (and lawsuits) cost money.

And there were 22 motions, beginning with a successful motion to support school districts suing the state because of House Bill 7069, signed into law last summer, which diverts local school tax dollars to charter schools. The Assembly also resolved to lobby the legislature regarding House Bill 989, also signed into law last summer, which allows anyone to object to any textbook used in Florida; the FEA will propose that a hearing officer who hears such an objection have an advanced degree in the subject matter being questioned. Among many other resolutions, the Assembly voted to support Puerto Rico and Virgin Island students displaced to Florida by Hurricane Maria and (ahem!) to fight two of the latest shenanigans in our retirement (one being attempts to jack up our "contributions," the other being freezing the COLAs for retirees).

Watching Legislation

So what do union offices in places like Washington, D.C., and Tallahassee do while union locals (with assistance from the state offices and their lawyers) bargain and enforce contracts? One thing they do is educate politicians about the consequences of their legislation. For example:

  • Representative Bill Plakon of Seminole proposed House Bill 25, entitled Labor Organizations, which would decertify any union whose membership is less than half of the employees it represents (that includes UFF at USF, for about a third of the USF employees that UFF represents in bargaining are dues-paying members). Plakon's bills are becoming an annual ritual, but with this legislature, UFF is taking it very seriously: some of these weird bills - like House Bills 989 and 7069 mentioned above - do pass. Of course, this problem would be academic if a majority of the employees at USF represented by UFF were members (and you can join today by sending in the membership form), and greater membership would enable UFF to do more.
  • While the state office deals with anti-union legislation, Congress is going after higher education. The U.S. House of Representatives has just passed a Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that would affect universities negatively in several ways. For example, graduate students with graduate assistantships currently have their tuition waived, and the waivers are not taxed as income. This bill would make some waivers taxable, which would present universities with the unpleasant choice between losing graduate students and increasing their stipends to make up the loss. The president of the American Council on Education - which includes USF as one of its 1,749 members - warned that, "... the House tax reform proposal released today would discourage participation in postsecondary education, make college more expensive for those who do enroll, and undermine the financial stability of public and private, two-year and four-year colleges and universities." The bill is now going through the U.S. Senate, and the president of the Association of Public and Land Grant Universities (which also has USF as a member) expressed additional concerns about the Senate bill.
In both cases, our union affiliates are educating legislators on the likely consequences of this legislation should it pass. If you have strong feelings about this legislation, feel free to contact your legislators; after all, they are supposed to represent you.

Rehabilitation Research

Last spring, the USF Chapter of UFF offered six travel scholarships to members for professional travel. Rehabilitation Counseling Professor Tina Dillahunt-Aspillaga describes what she did with her scholarship.

Tina Dillahunt-Aspillaga attended the American Congress of Rehabilitation Conference in October. This is the largest conference in the world for interdisciplinary rehabilitation research, and it brings together rehabilitation researchers, providers, clinicians, and administrators from over 65 countries. She participated in a symposium and presented a poster. Both presentations focused on reintegrating veterans with traumatic brain injury (TBI) back into the community. She also co-chaired the Military and Veterans Networking Group Community Reintegration Task Force meeting and met with the editor of the Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation to finalize items related to the publication of a Supplement on Community Reintegration, Participation, and Employment for Veterans and Service Members with TBI. Dr. Dillahunt-Aspillaga is co-editor of the Supplement, which will be published in February and contains twelve papers, including studies addressing critical needs in furthering our clinical and rehabilitation research agenda in this area.


Chapter Meeting tomorrow Friday, November 17, on USF Tampa in room EDU 161.

We will have lunch at the meeting. All UFF members are invited to attend. Non-members are also invited to come and check us out. Come and join the movement.

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 our e-mail address is uff@ourusf.org.

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.

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