This summer, a new contract was ratified and is now in force. Hard copies should be arriving at home addresses shortly. The contract determines the terms and conditions of our employment - from academic freedom and nondiscrimination to assignments and evaluations, from salary and benefits to layoff and promotion. The contract supersedes university policies, regulations, and rules, and is enforceable by law.
But the contract is just a stack of paper. The union not only bargains the contract, it enforces it, partly through regular consultations, but also through a grievance process mandated by the contract.
Any employee in the Bargaining Unit may attend, but to Zoom in you must have an invitation: contact the Chapter Secretary to get one.
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.
UFF negotiates on your behalf with regard to terms and conditions of employment. Having more members represented by UFF allows your union to negotiate from a position of strength. Therefore, we are asking for your support as a new UFF member. To facilitate your obligation as a dues-paying member, UFF is offering a rebate of $500 to 10 new members who join UFF. We will send checks to the first 10 membership applications (based on postmark date or date of electronic submission) sent to the UFF-USF Membership Committee after 8:00 AM on Monday, August 29:
Rebates will be issued on or around May 30, 2023 to qualifying members who have remained members in good standing for the entire academic year. Rebates will be issued for $500 or the dues paid for the year, whichever is less.
UFF thanks you for your support at a time when there are significant challenges for higher education.
75 days to the general election. The deadline to register to vote in the general election is October 11, the deadline to request a mail ballot is October 29 (although it is probably wise to request a mail ballot before the mail ballots start going out on September 24) and the general election itself is on November 8. For more information, see the For Voters webpage at the Florida Division of Elections website. Don't forget to vote!
Earlier this month, two UFF members published opinion columns in the Tampa Bay Times.
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.
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.
Yes, we are on social media.
A grievance is a formal complaint that the contract has been violated. The grievance form template asks for the specific article(s) and section(s) of the contract that were violated, what that violation consisted of, and what the Administration should do about it. Notice that a grievance is not a complaint that an administrator has been unjust or stupid; injustice and stupidity are not grievable. Only contract violations are grievable.
On the second page of the template is a reality check. UFF members have the right to union representation (for free), but non-members are on their own or get to pay for a lawyer. The UFF is not a charity, and will represent an employee only if that employee is a member and was a member at the time of the contract violation being grieved.
There is one important restriction that is not mentioned in the template, so we turn to Article 20 of the contract on Grievance Procedure and Arbitration. In Subsection 20.8A(1), it says that a grievance must be filed within thirty days of the violation being grieved. So, it is unwise to wait in hope that the problem can be resolved quietly without a grievance; in fact, what the contract calls Step 1 starts with an "informal resolution status."
If informality doesn't resolve the issue - or if both sides decide to skip the informalities - the issue is heard before a "University representative," usually Academic Affairs. Hopefully, that resolves the issue. If not, UFF can escalate the grievance to Step 2, which involves more formalities. Hopefully, that resolves the issue. If not, UFF can take the matter to arbitration before a neutral arbitrator.
Grievances are handled by the Grievance Committee, which consists of colleague volunteers with training, experience, and access to lawyers hired by our state affiliate, the Florida Education Association, which represents K-20 teachers across the state. (Lawyers are expensive, and paid for by union dues.) Anyone can contact the Grievance Committee via their webpage form, but the Grievance Committee can only represent UFF members, so join today.
This summer, we have had a lot of grievances on salary equity and assignments in regional campuses, but the Grievance Committee likes to keep a tab on things, so if something comes up, let them know.
In the 21 July 2022 Biweekly, we observed that there is a lot of pushback against legislation restricting the academic freedom of K-20 teachers in Florida - including restrictions on higher education faculty. The University of Florida has been the primary target in the university system, and the UFF produced a video on the UF Chapter of UFF receiving the Rosena J. Willis Memorial Award from the National Education Association for defending academic freedom at Gainesville.
One problem law is House Bill 7, which was sold as an "anti-woke" bill that specifically targeted "critical race theory." (Critical Race Theory is concerned with the legal, cultural, social, and other structural supports for practices with racially discriminatory consequences, but in popular culture it has morphed into something more ambiguous, and there are efforts across the country [USF login required] to restrict what politicians and pundits take to be "critical race theory.") House Bill 7 restricts college curricula by enumerating a list of ill-defined politically sensitive positions that teachers are not to take in class (see the list posted by the Florida State University System Board of Governors).
House Bill 7 is enforced by cutting the budget of any institution that does not comply, which means that administrators are expected to get creative in enforcing this law. In Florida, public university administrators serve at the pleasure of a board of political appointees - and this political reality (regardless of the legal niceties) was recently underlined when the University of Florida Board arranged for the dismissal of their Dean of the UF Honors College. We do not know what political pressures will be brought to bear on administrations of Florida universities, but considering recent events, we can expect pressure.
The recent legal developments are that a judge has blocked implementation of House Bill 7 - for now - and the ACLU, the ACLU of Florida, the Legal Defense Fund, and Ballard Spahr have filed a lawsuit on behalf of Florida educators and students against House Bill 7.
This is merely one of several battles going on, and we can use all the help we can get. We encourage all employees in the UFF USF Bargaining Unit to come to our chapter meeting tomorrow, Friday, at noon. Contact the Chapter Secretary for a Zoom invitation.
The next chapter meeting will be tomorrow Friday, August 26, at 12:00, on Zoom. All UFF USF members are welcome: for the Zoom link, contact the Chapter Secretary.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.
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 email@example.com.