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UFF Biweekly
United Faculty of Florida -- USF System Chapter
26 August 2021
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IN THIS ISSUE

Welcome Back!

The first week of classes are usually the time for observing that they get younger every year (and then reflecting that no, we're getting older), and the biggest concern is the projected number of hurricanes this fall (seven to ten, according to the NOAA). But now, we live in increasingly interesting times, with nuisance flooding in the East, droughts in the West, and a pandemic with disconcerting staying power.

  • A Fourth Covid Semester. While the state government adopts an ignore-it-and-it'll-go-away policy, the faculty senates and faculty unons are applying pressure to get the policy changed. For details, see below or click here.
This raises the question, what are we going to do about the state government? The reality is that complaining to one another does nothing: one must talk to the politicians. Many of them do not know what the realities are, so lacking other sources of information, they tend to follow the legislative leadership and their favorite pundits.
  • Educating Politicians. We have a Government Relations Committee for educating politicians, including legislators. And this is the time for it, for Fall is when the committees draft the legislation to submit in January. For details, see below or click here.
Meanwhile, we are bargaining a new contract.
  • Bargaining Update. The Administration proposes a one-year contract. For details, see below or click here.
On Thursday, August 12, the USF Chapter of the UFF held a Town Hall meeting called Union 101 on what a union for USF faculty is all about. There was a presentation followed by a Q & A, and the presentation was recorded and posted on You-Tube.

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: COVID-19 mitigation and protection, the town hall meeting, and the recruiting campaign.

Any employee in the Bargaining Unit may attend, but you must have an invitation: contact the Chapter Secretary to get one. This fall, we are meeting on August 27, September 10, September 24, October 8, October 22, November 5, November 19, and December 3. Some of the meetings may be online and some may be hybrid; the "modality" of the meetings are TBD.

Meetings and events are posted on the Events Calendar of the UFF USF Website. Come and check us out.

Memorial for Roy Weatherford

As announced in the July 15 Biweekly, there will be a memorial for USF Philosophy Professor and former UFF USF Chapter President Roy Weatherford on the Sunday of Labor Day weekend, on September 5, there will be a Memorial for Roy Weatherford from 4 pm to 6 pm at the Sam & Martha Gibbons Alumni Center at USF. All members and friends of the USF community are invited to come say good-by. For more information, contact Doris Weatherford .

Tailgate Social in Fall

UFF will sponsor a Tailgate Social for the first home football game of the USF Bulls vs. the Florida Gators on Sept. 11, 2021. The game will be at Raymond James stadium in Tampa. The game is scheduled to start at noon, but kickoff time is subject to change. Regardless, we are planning a tent, chairs, coolers, and food for 50 UFF members and families members before the game. In the past, our Tailgates have been at a prime location to watch the bands and players enter, meet up with Rocky, and enjoy the fans.

RSVP to Steve Lang if you plan to participate and let us know who is coming (like a spouse or children). We will need to order food and maybe extra chairs.

If you already have tickets to the game, that’s great! Otherwise, you can get tickets at the Go USF Bulls (Football Tickets) website. For the last few years there was an employee discount, so call them and ask. If you do not have tickets and would like UFF to ask for a group or tickets together, then let us know ASAP and we will try to arrange it. This game will be sold out! No one actually knows what the mask or vaccination policy will be at Raymond James Stadium at this time.

Please provide an email so that we can update folks with information about the time of the game, location of the Tailgate, parking, food choices, and tickets.

We have had some really great tailgate parties in the past few years at the Rays, Rowdies, and USF Bulls, so hopefully this will be a back-to-normal event.

Help Wanted!

The USF Chapter of the United Faculty of Florida will be conducting a recruiting campaign to protect our union from future decertification threats. The Chapter has received funding to hire a few faculty Organizing Fellows. The job is paid and part-time, 5-10 hours a week. If you are interested, please apply! Here is the link.

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 or the recent Memorandum of Understanding, 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 Grievances Page.

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.

We are on Social Media

Yes, we are on social media.

  • We have a Facebook group: see United Faculty of Florida at USF. 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, and the moderator will invite every UFF member that asks to join. Non-members are welcome to look (but you need a Facebook account to do that). So check us out.
  • We have a blog: see The USF Faculty Blog. This has news items as they come up.
  • We are twitter-pated: follow us on Twitter via @UffUsf.
  • We even have a You-Tube channel: check out our videos
If you want to help with media matters, contact the Communications Committee chair.


A Fourth Covid Semester

As the COVID-19 situation grows more serious, the state government's response to it grows more surreal. Schools have reopened, vaccinations and masks optional, and kids are getting infected. Some school districts are responding by requiring masks at least, and the Florida Department of Education is threatening to retaliate against those school districts. The governor has responded to the recent surge in the Delta Variant by arguing that this is merely seasonal and will go away shortly, but Politifact consulted some experts who contend that human behavior, not the weather, is the governing factor. Meanwhile, the U. S. Department of Education has warned states blocking mask mandates that they might be violating federal law.

Some colleges and universities have imposed vaccination and mask mandates (although one university is toying with the idea of barring faculty from even talking about the pandemic in class). A few college teachers are even quitting rather than teach face-to-face without protections. Meanwhile, Florida universities, unlike school districts (which have independent elected boards with constituencies and legal authority of their own), are governed by the State University System Board of Governors (whose policies are full of urging and short of requiring) and the various university boards of trustees, whose members are largely appointed by Tallahassee politicians. So the USF Administration seems to be walking a tightrope. On the one hand, the USF COVID Dashboard reported 21 new faculty / staff cases last week, along with 74 new student cases and 31 students in isolation; the USF Library COVID Hub report that Florida's last weekly positivity rate was 19.8% (readers may recall that anything above 5% was a sign of trouble). On the other hand, at the latest USF Town Hall meeting and the USF Classroom Guidance for Fall, faculty are told that they may encourage but not pressure students to wear masks and get vaccinated.

Resistance is underway. The American College Health Association has condemned state level restrictions barring colleges and universities from imposing vaccination and mask requirements. Meanwhile, back in Florida, parents have gone to court to overturn the Florida Department of Education's bar against protective mandates. The United Faculty of Florida is suing the University of Florida and Pensacola State College over protections. And faculty are demanding more rigorous measures than merely encouraging students (and faculty and staff) to wear masks and get shots. The USF Faculty Senate passed a resolution on what the university should do (if only the state government would permit it) and the Florida Advisory Council of Faculty Senates unanimously passed a resolution opposing statewide restriction or legislation that limits public health mitigation measures in the State University System during a global pandemic. Meanwhile, the USF Chapter of the UFF placed a draft Memorandum of Understanding on the bargaining table to provide some protection. And UFF continues to talk to legislators (for more on that, see below).

Computer models are iffy things - they rely on the pertinence of the initial and boundary data and the validity of the underlying algorithm - but the projections of what is likely to happen if the state continues this policy are alarming. And it is the public that will bear the consequences; the politicians will move on to new policies.

Talking to Politicians

If ever there was a moment we should be educating politicians, it is now. The various surges are setting off alarm bells, but the Legislature doesn't want their constituents to be burdened by onerous mandates – and they do not seem convinced that mandates would save lives.

The problem is that legislators - like so many people these days - live in their own plastic bubbles, getting news from sources they trust and listening to pundits they prefer. Many of them are not aware of the realities because, ahem, no one has bothered to visit them and tell them. (University administrators may be wary of being too candid with the people who fund the universities - and politicians may regard them special interests, anyway.) Politicians need to hear from their constituents, and that means YOU. And not just once, but on a long-term basis, for it is long-term relationships that matter in politics.

So we appeal to would-be reformers and political junkies to join the UFF USF Government Relations Committee to educate the politicians. If you are interested, contact the UFF USF Secretary.

Bargaining Update

The latest bargaining session was on August 20, where the USF Administration presented new proposals:

  • For Article 23 on Salaries, the Administration proposes a 2% one-time bonus. The Administration proposal provides for no raises other than discretionary raises.
  • For Article 29 on Amendment and Duration, the Administration proposes that this contract be for one year. While contracts typically last three years, the Administration's chief negotiator appealed to the UFF team to accept a Memorandum of Understanding extending the current Memorandum of Understanding that extended the current contract (that was supposed to be replaced in 2019).
For all of the proposals thus far, see the Bargaining a New Contract Page.


LOGISTICS

Chapter Meeting tomorrow Friday, August 27, 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 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.