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UFF Biweekly
United Faculty of Florida -- USF System Chapter
24 September 2020
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IN THIS ISSUE

The Statewide Meeting Report

The United Faculty of Florida (UFF) is a statewide organization, representing faculty at twelve public universities (including New College), fifteen public colleges, and one private college. The UFF also represents graduate students at four public universities. As of September 11, UFF had 8,687 dues-paying members who are eligible to vote for senators to represent them at the biannual UFF Senate Meeting.

The Senate met the weekend before last to hear reports and set policy. With a pandemic raging, an election upcoming, and academic leaders conducting...exercises...on budget cuts, there was a lot on the agenda. But we were meeting over Zoom, which meant more senators could attend and experience technical glitches, but also...

  • Guess Who's Coming to the Senate Meeting? Meeting over Zoom meant that we had speakers who normally wouldn't have been able to make the trip. The president of the statewide union. Both presidents of our national affiliates. And Northern Virginia Community College English Professor Jill Biden. For more, see below or click here.
Meanwhile...
  • Consultation. USF President Steven Currall and UFF USF President Arthur Shapiro met to discuss the current situation. For President Shapiro's report, see below or click here.
Meanwhile, This is the last regular Biweekly before the deadline to vote in the fall election, October 5. Make sure that you are registered to vote. Two other deadlines:
  • Deadline for requesting a mail ballot: October 24. (But many observers recommend mailing your ballot by October 27, which caution suggests requesting the mail ballot by October 13.)
  • Deadline for election supervisors to receive mail ballots: Election Day, November 3.
For more information, visit the Florida Division of Elections.


Tenure and Promotion Workshop

The USF Chapter of the United Faculty of Florida will hold a Tenure and Promotion Workshop on Friday, October 9, from 9 am to 11 am, on Zoom, prior to the Chapter Meeting. Participants will learn about planning ahead and how to build the case for tenure or promotion, about putting together the tenure or promotion packet, and the various ins and outs. Participants must be UFF members, but you can join by filling in and sending in this form.

For the Zoom invitation, contact the Chapter Secretary.

How Are You Doing?

We are conducting a survey of faculty attitudes concerning job conditions at USF during the pandemic. If you are a USF employee and have not filled in the short survey, please do so.

Chapter Meeting Tomorrow on Zoom

The USF Chapter of the United Faculty of Florida will meet tomorrow Friday at 12 noon on Zoom. On the agenda: USF financial issues, consolidation, the pandemic, the new website, and other issues. And here are the minutes for the previous meeting.

Any employee in the Bargaining Unit may attend, but you must have an invitation: contact the Chapter Secretary. We will meet on alternate Fridays at noon over Zoom. Meetings and events are posted on the Events Calendar of the UFF USF Website. Come and check us out.

USF United Support Fund for Food Pantries

Many of our students are struggling during this crisis, and the USF Foundation is supporting the USF Food Pantries to help out. They are accepting non-perishable donations, but one can also make monetary donations for the pantries at St. Petersburg, Sarasota / Manatee, and Tampa.

Join UFF Today!

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. Here is the membership form. 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.

We are on Social Media

Yes, we are on social media.

If you want to help with media matters, contact the Communications Committee chair.


Guess Who's Coming to the Senate Meeting?

On September 11, 131 faculty and graduate students from across the state joined the UFF Senate's first Zoom meeting. UFF Vice President Jaffar Ali Shahul-Hameed of Florida Gulf Coast University is technically proficient, and was "voluntold" to host the meeting (and thus handle all the knobs and levers).

The Senate follows Roberts' Rules of Order, and it turned out that U.S. Brigadier-General Henry Roberts, a veteran of the Civil War, hadn't had Zoom in mind when he composed his manual. Our parliamentarian, Teresa Hodge of Broward College, got to translate the Rules into Internet.

We had some distinguished guests, no doubt in part because it is easier to Zoom in, but also because the Florida Education Association (FEA) in general and the United Faculty of Florida in particular have gotten national attention. As mentioned in
the previous Biweekly, FEA President Fed Ingam was recently elected Secretary-Treasurer of the American Federation of Teachers. One consequence of this was that UFF FAMU Secretary Nanci Riley was tapped to become FEA Secretary-Treasurer.

At the top of the agenda was Becky Pringle, president of the National Education Association, with about three million members the largest union in the nation, representing K-20 teachers nationwide, and one of our two national affiliates.

President Pringle focused on students: "We will lift up our students, and we will not give in, we will not give up, because our students are depending on us..." She recommended that we check out the resources at the new NEA website, Educating Through Crisis, which includes crossing the digital divide, meeting students' needs, wellness, as well as knowing your rights, taking action, and praise for educators. And of UFF she said that UFF was "a miracle walking" and that "I honor your commitment to that which is larger than yourself." She also stressed the importance of the upcoming election, and urged us not only to vote, but to get family and friends to vote. "Anyone who likes you, who loves you, had better vote in this election. ... You know what’s at stake."

UFF's other national affiliate is the American Federation of Teachers, and AFT President Randi Weingarten also made an appearance.

President Weingarten criticized some state responses to the pandemic, saying that there were 88,000 Covid19 cases on American campuses, but that in Florida, Georgia, and Texas, it is "...almost like kids in our colleges and our schools, like our teachers, are dispensable," and compared teachers to the meat packers whose employers did not take adequate precautions. She also criticized the U.S. Senate's failure to move on the HEROES Act to provide additional funding: "The people who are actually defunding the police are [the people] who are not provided local government with the funds that they need." She concluded with, "Thank you for everything you do."

In a subsequent Q & A session, she said that while she was in favor of Medicare for All, it was not clear how to get there from where we are, and that the priority was to make medical care available. More generally, she said that winning reforms like student debt relief is not just a matter of winning elections: even if the election is won, one cannot let up the pressure: "It's not just elections that matter; it’s also activism that matters."

The union took a break to recognize some longstanding members, including Maureen Dinnen, formerly of what was then Broward Community College, who became the first president of the Florida Education Association. She told senators that senators were more critical than chapter officials: "leaders come and go; senators are the face of the union."

When Fed Ingam was elected Secretary-Treasurer of the American Federation of Teachers, FEA Vice President Andy Spar became President of the FEA.

Spar criticized Florida's higher education leadership during the pandemic. "Bring college kids to a college campus and tell them not to be college kids. And then blame them for being college kids. That's what’s happening right now. We are literally creating these super-spreader situations, and then we’re surprised by these situations." He also criticized the state education cutbacks, and also encouraged union members to persuade family members to vote, stating that in general elections, about 90 % of union members vote, but only 70 % of their family members do. (In a separate news conference, Spar called for the state's education budget not be cut any further.)

In her presidential address, UFF President Karen Morian of Florida State College at Jacksonville told us that because the pandemic created novel working conditions, many chapters (including USF's) bargained Memoranda of Understanding to cover situations not in the contracts.

She warned us that UFF is preparing for when - "and I do have to say when" - the next outbreak occurs, and warned that the state has changed the way it counts cases. Noting that schools routinely tell parents about lice and chicken pox outbreaks, she complained that schools were being told not to tell parents about Covid-19 cases at schools.

She noted that UFF is non-partisan: "UFF is about policy; it's about issues." She also said that FEA had checked a list of FEA members with records of election supervisors and found that about a third of them had "issues": she strongly recommended that everyone check their registration status (and update their signatures).

Speaking of elections, the next speaker was an English professor from Virginia, Jill Biden, who told us that students from all around the world come to the USA and work hard, asking for nothing else but opportunity. We are facing chaotic conditions, and we know that it didn't have to be this way, but we rose to the challenge because we know how much it matters; we know how classrooms can change lives: "Education doesn't just make us smarter; it makes us whole."

Stressing the importance of this election, she told us that Florida can choose the next president, and, "Thank you for all that you have done for your students during this difficult time; thank you for fighting for our future; and thank you for your faith in an idea that is greater than any one of us, that we will build a better nation because we will do this together." UFF has posted a video of her talk online.

Consultation

On Sept. 21, 2020, at 2 pm, President Currall and a handful of administrators for USF consulted with the President, Vice-President and Chief Negotiator of the United Faculty of Florida to try to clarify the financial and educational situation we presently face due to the results of the COVID-19 pandemic. President Currall and his associates pointed out the core educational goals that had been established as the primary basis for considering any alternatives that might be developed consistent with BOG guidelines. The first major consideration is the high value the administration and BOT place on the faculty, which guides all thinking.

President Currall and his team then indicated that they were in the process of developing different models to try to develop carefully a strategic plan for going forward; however, no specifics were discussed. They indicated that we are being helped by the 1.2 percent increase in student enrollment. The administrative team then asked for input by the UFF representatives, which was shared in with frank questions and answers in an attempt to be as transparent as possible. President Currall noted that the information being discussed will be presented to the USF Senate on Wednesday, Sept. 23 at 3 pm, with the emphasis that all models are preliminary. There was no discussion of layoffs or salary reductions.

The discussion was cordial, frank and open.


LOGISTICS

Chapter Meeting tomorrow Friday, September 25, at 12 noon, via Zoom. All UFF USF members are welcome: for the Zoom link, contact the Chapter Secretary.

All UFF members are invited to attend. Non-members are also invited to come and check us out. To get the link to Zoom, contact the Chapter Secretary. 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.

If you do not want to receive the UFF Biweekly, you can unsubscribe below or contacting the Chapter Secretary. If you do not receive the Biweekly, but want to, contact the Chapter Secretary.