School does not roll around, said Charlie Brown. It leaps out at you. But now that we have recovered from the first three days of classes, a slight change in plan. In the previous Biweekly, we promised that this issue would be devoted to the benefits of a university education to the community. But since then, developments have been developing, so this issue is devoted to recent news. We will have an issue devoted to benefits to the community as soon as the newsfeed gives us a break.
The USF Chapter of the United Faculty of Florida will meet tomorrow Friday at noon at Village Inn, 11302 N. 30th Street (Bruce B. Downs) in Tampa. There will be lunch. On the agenda: membership, and meeting locations this fall. Come and check us out.
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.
UFF will hold a Tailgate at Friday's game between the USF Bulls and the Wisconsin Badgers. It will be a fun evening for families and a great kickoff for the USF football season. All UFF members are welcome (and if you want to join, there will be membership forms there).
The grounds around Raymond James are huge, and there were some issues last year finding our location, so here are some details:
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.
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.
Florida is a "right-to-work" state, which means that employees don't have to join a union in order to be represented by one in bargaining. If you don't want to pay dues, you don't have to. The result is a peculiar situation: a union may represent all employees in a "bargaining unit" even if a minority of those employees are dues-paying members. This happens when a union wins a certification election in which all employees may vote, and then a majority of the employees don't join.
This is hard on the union: a union consists of volunteers, and fewer members mean fewer volunteers. In addition, some union activities (lawyers, staff, state meetings, etc.) cost money, and less dues money mean fewer resources. Both of these problems affect how well the union is able to serve its constituents (members and non-members). But now, there is a new problem: some politicians think that a union with minority membership should be ousted - or, to be precise, a minorityh union not aligned with those politicians should be ousted.
The Legislature passed a law in the last session requiring that in each school district, the union representing K-12 teachers in that district must be dues-paying members or the union must (each year) win a certification election. For a minority union, conducting a certification election every year is a substantial burden, which is probably the idea - although Florida Attorney-General Ashley Moody's office said that, "The provisions themselves do not oust the union from its position, but instead trigger the opportunity for the employees... to reconsider whether to alter the status of their representation..." Actually, employees already can petition for a recertification election at any time, so this rationale is probably spurious.
The original bill imposed this on our state affiliate, the Florida Education Association (the FEA, which the Speaker of the House called "evil"), but an exception for higher education was added, which is why UFF at USF is not going through a certification election right now: about 30 % of the employees in the Bargaining Unit are members. For obvious reasons, we would like to get majority membership as soon as possible because
The FEA is appealing, but as Mr. Dooley observed, courts follow election returns, and recently elected politicians tend to be hostile to teachers. Realistically, a union in Florida needs to have majority membership in this political weather.
Employees have the legal right to form and operate a labor union. That is the law, at both state and federal levels.
Shortly after Florida Polytechnic University (FPU) was founded, some employees came to UFF and asked for help organizing a chapter of UFF at FPU. This meant going to the Public Employees Relations Commission (PERC) and asking for a certification election, which UFF won. That meant that FPU faculty and professionals are now represented by UFF in bargaining and enforcing a contract.
The university leadership - and in these matters, one should recall that a university administration serves at the pleasure of a board of trustees - retaliated against four union activists, getting rid of all four. UFF then went back to PERC with a formal complaint of an Unfair Labor Practice.
PERC recently issued its decision on the case: two of the employees get their jobs back with back pay and one of them got their non-renewal rescinded (the fourth has left FPU). And at the end of the above decision is a page that the FPU Administration is required to post so that employees may see it, admitting that the FPU administration broke the law and promised not to do it again.
Chapter Meeting tomorrow Friday, August 30, at noon, at Village Inn, 11302 N. 30th Street (Bruce B. Downs) in Tampa.
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.
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