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UFF Biweekly
United Faculty of Florida -- USF System Chapter
6 September 2018
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IN THIS ISSUE

Consolidation, etc.

Election season is an appropriate time for a reminder that it matters who is in the Legislature.

  • Consolidation. A task force mandated by the Legislature is developing proposals for consolidating the system into a single university, and now is the time to influence how it works. For details, see below or click here.
Meanwhile, readers with long memories will recall that the Legislature descended on USF and ripped USF Lakeland out of the USF System, dumped the faculty, and created a new Florida Polytechnic University on a shoestring. The faculty promptly organized a FPU Chapter of the United Faculty of Florida, which is now protesting cutbacks in critical student services and union-busting (i.e. "activities undertaken to disrupt or prevent the formation of trade unions," according to Wikipedia).
  • Florida Polytechnic University. Union-busting and cutbacks in library and mental health got the university board and administration at odds with its faculty - and got the university into the newspapers. For more, see below or click here.
And on the agenda for tomorrow's chapter meeting, the upcoming UFF Senate meeting. The USF Chapter is one of 29 chapters that make up the United Faculty of Florida. The Senate meets twice a year, and the Chapter will make plans for the senate meeting this weekend.


Chapter Meeting Tomorrow on USF Tampa

The USF Chapter of the United Faculty of Florida will meet tomorrow Friday at noon on USF Tampa in EDU 261. There will be sandwiches, snacks, drinks, and sweets. On the agenda: bargaining, consolidating USF, recruiting new members, political action (this is an election year), and the upcoming UFF Senate meeting. Come and check us out.

This fall, we will meet on September 7 & 21, October 5 & 19, November 2 & 16 & 30. The September 21 meeting will be at USF St. Petersburg, and one meeting to be determined will be in USF Sarasota / Manatee. The locations of the other meetings are to be determined. Come and check us out.

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.

Grievances

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).

$ 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 27, and only UFF members are eligible. In addition, no recipient of the Fall 2017 or Spring 2018 cycles of travel grants is eligible to apply. The five recipients shall be selected by lot at the November 30 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).

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.


Consolidation

On July 2, 2020, 665 days from now, USF is to be a single university, with a single academic structure extending to all three campuses. The model currently under discussion envisions a single array of policies, guidelines, and criteria and procedures for promotion and tenure. This single array is for the entire university, specialized to colleges and then departments that also extend through the entire university. Both top-down and bottom-up efforts are underway to make this happen with minimal disruption.

Enter the accreditors. The U.S. Department of Education delegates the job of making sure that postsecondary degrees are worth something to regional accreditors like the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools - Commission on Colleges (SACS-COC) which keeps an eye on USF. It is SACS that badgers USF about the credentials of its faculty, the standards of its programs, and its academic structure. That makes consolidation SACS's business, and part of the consolidation effort is aimed at making SACS happy.

At the top of the top-down planning process is a task force mandated by the Legislature (see below), appointed by people named by the Legislature. They are developing an overarching plan while the Administration and various bodies (including UFF) are figuring out how to make this plan work while this plan is under development. Meanwhile, individual units and individual faculty are reaching out to each other to start building a foundation for working together. One consequence is that to many questions faculty have about what is going to happen, the answer is "that hasn't been resolved yet." This may actually be a good thing: fans of Yes, Prime Minister (15:00 - 15:30) may recall that the time to influence policy is while its being made.

Tomorrow Friday, at noon, the Chapter is meeting in EDU 261 to discuss influencing policy on tenure and promotion. As always, all USF faculty and professionals - UFF members or not - are invited for sandwiches, snacks, sweets, drinks and strategizing. Meanwhile, it may be helpful to recall how the Legislature landed us in this fix.

"Laws, like sausages, cease to inspire respect in proportion as we know how they are made," said Otto von Bismarck, and there is an air of sausage in this consolidation. As reported in the 8 February 2018 Biweekly, State Senator Jeff Brandes and State Representative Ray Rodrigues pushed An act relating to higher education (House Bill 423) to consolidate the USF system into a single university despite a telling lack of enthusiasm in USF and the USF community. After much controversy, the language of HB 423 was ultimately folded into the Florida Excellence in Higher Education Act of 2018 (Senate Bill 4) (see 1004.335 and 1004.341 on on pages 10 - 14) as part of an omnibus bill that Governor Scott signed on March 11.

The argument was that now that USF had pre-eminent status, consolidating the system would spread the pre-eminence around. Whether that is what would actually happen - in fact, whether that is what the Legislature intended to happen - is another matter. One reason for cynicism was that this was an unfunded mandate: USF is to reorganize, including major adjustments in the structure and mission of two campuses, within two years, without additional resources. The Legislature also mandated a task force that would figure out how to do all this - and it was the Legislature's decision not to mandate any faculty presence on the task force. None of this suggested any legislative affection towards USF or the USF community.

Anyway, this is election year, and perhaps this is a good time to ask our legislators what plans they have for USF. Meanwhile, USF faculty and professionals are invited to the Chapter meeting, tomorrow Friday noon in EDU 261, to learn the latest news and plan our moves.

Florida Polytechnic University

Speaking of legislative mandates, Florida Polytechnic University is in the news.

  • The Lakeland Ledger reported that a survey of FPU faculty, with half the faculty responding (a rather high response rate), had nearly two-thirds disagreeing that morale was high and disagreeing that they could dissent from administration policies without fear of reprisal.
  • The Tampa Bay Times reported that a month after FPU's only mental health counselor was laid off, one of FPU's students committed suicide.
And three of the four members of the United Faculty of Florida bargaining team were fired; it is a violation of federal law to fire or retaliate against an employee for union activity, but the Chair of the FPU Board of Trustees said that "people who expect things to be run like somewhere else are going to be disappointed." FPU faculty held a rally on September 5 (see the rally's Facebook page) and called for:
  • Shared governance: meaningful input from students and faculty before decisions are made.
  • Clear, transparent, and timely communication to all stakeholders, particularly students, faculty and academic staff, regarding substantial changes being considered to student life and services, curriculum, and organizational changes.
  • Accountability for the toxic work environment created by retaliatory lay-offs and the silencing of faculty and staff that disagree with administrative decisions and spoke up on issues of public concern.
  • Accountability for ethical concerns regarding the management of the university.
  • Reinstatement of all terminated staff and faculty over the last two years who were not fired for substantiated performance issues (i.e. they were fired for ... other ... reasons).
FPU appears to be having a bumpy start.


LOGISTICS

Chapter Meeting tomorrow Friday, September 7, at noon, on USF Tampa, in EDU 216.

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.

Our website is http://www.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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