Budget Cuts and Consequences
While regular issues of the UFF USF Biweekly are on hiatus until January 14, we will inform our readers of major developments with Biweekly Extras like this one.
The College of Education
The fight for the future of the USF College of Education continues, and there have been the following developments.
The next event in the budget cuts - er, strategic realignment - timeline is the Board of Trustees meeting tomorrow, December 8, from 9:30 am to 12:30 pm; the link is posted on the BOT website.
- Readers may recall that the USF Faculty Senate submitted several questions to the USF Administration regarding the proposed budget cuts, the reasoning behind them, and the process for producing them. The Administration has sent responses to the Senate.
- As reported in the Tampa Bay Times, the USF Faculty Senate Executive Committee sent a letter to the USF Board of Trustees expressing the Committee's "serious concerns about USF's on-going strategic realignment process." This letter was supported by the USF Faculty Senate by a 63 - 3 vote.
- At that Faculty Senate meeting last week, UFF USF Vice President Steve Lang reported that UFF has joined our state affiliate, the Florida Education Association (FEA), in meeting with legislators, and he reported on a recent meeting with the Pinellas delegation. He informed the Senate that Florida State Senator Jeff Brandes told the FEA delegation that the Legislature was waiting to see if federal money was forthcoming, but if not, the Legislature would attempt to hold K-12 education harmless, so if cuts were necessary from education they would likely come from higher education. One likely step would be to raise tuition (this despite Senator Rick Scott's opposition to raising tuition). Senator Brandes also said that while the Legislature appreciated USF's premier status, they expect that state institutions in urban centers will continue to produce professionals - especially teachers.
- Members of the community continue to express their concern. Within USF, there were letters from some faculty in the USF College of Education, and the USF Library Council. Outside, the Tampa Bay Times complained that USF mishandled the closing of the College of Education, arguing that "USF should have worked with local school districts for a solution they could all agree on." The Times then argued that USF needs to remember what kind of school it is—and isn't (which got rejoinder from a USF faculty member). Finally, Hillsborough Education Foundation Board of Directors Chair Royce Reed wrote that USF-trained teachers power Hillsborough’s schools.
- Meanwhile, as reported in the Tampa Bay Times and the St. Petersburg Catalyst, there is a draft proposal circulating for expanding several "academic clusters" at USF St. Petersburg.
There has been a lot of talk about furloughs at USF, so here are some facts that employees in the UFF USF Bargaining Unit - both UFF members and non-members - should know about the Collective Bargaining Agreement (the contract):
The contract was bargained by the UFF (representing employees in the UFF USF Bargaining Unit - UFF members and non-members alike) and the USF Administration (representing the USF Board of Trustees). It was ratified by a vote of the UFF USF employees and by the USF Board of Trustees. It has the force of law and cannot be unilaterally changed.
- The contract does not enable involuntary unpaid leave (i.e. furloughs).
- Section 17.11 (pp. 50 - 51) provides for leave without pay "upon request of the employee," and Section 8.4A (p. 10) requires that changes in the thirteen listed terms of appointment (Section 8.3, pp. 9, 10) - except for salary raises and promotion - require the written consent of the employee. So an employee within the UFF USF Bargaining Unit may agree to a furlough, but cannot be required to accept one.
- If anyone would like to propose language on furloughs to be bargained, this is the time: bargaining the next contract is underway. Please send proposals to the Chapter Secretary to be forwarded to the UFF USF Bargaining Team.
- In addition, Article 8 on Appointments (pp. 9 - 15), Article 12 on Non-Reappointments (pp. 26 - 28), and Article 13 on Layoff and Recall (pp. 28 - 31) govern how appointments, layoffs and recalls, non-reappointments and non-renewals are conducted. Article 16 on Disciplinary Action and Job Abandonment (pp. 36, 37) includes termination as a possibile disciplinary action.
Join UFF Today!
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HOLIDAY SEASON TOY DRIVE
Every year, the West Central Florida Federation of Labor conducts a toy drive for the Children's Home Society of Florida. The pandemic precludes collecting toys this year, but there are still children having a lonely holiday season, so the Federation of Labor is conducting a Holiday Gift Card Toy Drive this year. To donate a gift card, go to the Toy Drive Site. And Happy Holidays! (And safely!)
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.