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UFF Biweekly
United Faculty of Florida -- USF System Chapter
8 September 2022
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If You Get in Trouble


Losing Teachers

Teacher retention is a longstanding problem. The pay isn't all that good, job conditions are problematic, and popular opinion comes and goes. The tide is now out of sight: teachers are targets of opportunistic politicians, predatory entrepreneurs, and people who scream at school board meetings.

According to classical economics, labor is a commodity that responds to the market like anything else. If compensation for that labor - in pay, job conditions, and public standing - falls, then the queue of job applicants will grow shorter while the credentials of the applicants will grow weaker. And much to the astonishment of pundits and politicians pretending to adhere to classical economics, this is exactly what is happening.

  • Where Have All the Teachers Gone? Schools are hemorrhaging and politicians are responding by lowering standards for entering the profession. For details, see below or click here.
There are 61 days to the general election on November 8, and we strongly urge everyone to exercise their right to vote. Remember that while the ballot is secret, politicians know who votes and who doesn't - and that leaves them free to ignore people who don't vote.

The deadline to register to vote is October 11, and the deadline to request a mail ballot in the general election is October 29. However, as mail ballots are sent out starting on September 24, we recommend that anyone planning on voting by mail send in their request for a mail ballot by September 17.

For more information for voters, see the For Voters page in the website for the Florida Division of Elections. And you can look up your county supervisor of elections here.

Chapter Meeting Tomorrow at 12 Noon on USF Tampa

The USF Chapter of the United Faculty of Florida will meet tomorrow Friday at 12 noon on USF Tampa in EDU 261; it will also be hybrid on Zoom. There will be sandwiches, fruit, drinks, and sweets starting at 11:30. On the agenda: the upcoming UFF Senate meeting, the membership campaign, government relations, and more. And here are the minutes for the previous meeting.

Any employee in the Bargaining Unit may attend, but to Zoom in you must have an invitation: contact the Chapter Secretary to get one.

Meetings and events are posted on the Events Calendar of the UFF USF Website. We will meet on USF St. Petersburg on October 7 and on USF Sarasota / Manatee on October 21, and otherwise on USF Tampa; however, all meetings will be hybrid with Zoom access. Come and check us out.

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.

UFF New Member Rebate

A new contract between USF faculty in the UFF USF Bargaining Unit and the USF Board of Trustees was recently approved by the faculty by an overwhelming majority.

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 rebates of $500 each to twenty new members who join UFF (based on postmark date or date of electronic submission) between August 7 and September 30.

  • Via the online form, or
  • By downloading and filling in the form (rtf document) and submitting it:
    • By email: send it to uff@ourusf.org, or
    • By mail: send it to Membership Committee, United Faculty of Florida, 30238 USF Holly Drive, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL 33620.
Here are the details:
  • Must be a new member of UFF who joined between August 7 and September 30.
  • Must maintain membership for at least one year
  • Checks will be issued after fall semester and verification of name on payroll of December 16.
  • Recipients will be selected at random at meeting of October 7.
Click here to read about membership benefits.

Rebates will be issued in spring 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.


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.

Where Have All the Teachers Gone?

We are concerned about K-12 teachers not just because the
United Faculty of Florida is a union local of the Florida Education Association, which represents K-20 teachers all across Florida, but also because K-12 teachers prepare the students that come into our classrooms and who ultimately become the future. And in Florida - and across the nation - the K-12 teaching profession is suffering.

Somewhat over a century ago, school boards discovered that as opportunities for bright women were limited, they could hire extremely capable women for cheap. But as alternatives with better pay, better job conditions, and higher public standing appeared, capable women went elsewhere - partly because schools and states did not respond to changing social conditions by making K-12 teaching more attractive. And now, Florida has a critical teacher shortage, and about a month ago the Tampa Bay Times asked if there were enough teachers to reopen schools [USF ID required] in the region.

A recent survey found that teachers feel less respect than they did two years ago, with the primary sources of stress being politicians, parents, and social media (in that order). Meanwhile, a survey of the general public found that nearly two-thirds of the respondents had "a great deal" or "a good amount" of "overall trust and confidence in [the] community's public school teachers" - but just over a third would like their children to go into the profession (those who didn't cited poor pay, demands of the job, lack of respect, and various other issues).

Teachers are under attack for what they teach, and this led the National Coalition Against Censorship, the National Council for the Social Studies, the National Council of Teachers of English, the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, the National Science Teaching Association to issue a joint statement stating that, "We cannot let good teachers leave the field because they no longer have the freedom to do their jobs. We cannot let the education of our children and young adults become collateral damage in partisan political machinations." Meanwhile, possibly concerned about the effect of recent legislation on Advanced Placement, the College Board issued a statement stating, among other things, that "AP courses foster an open-minded approach to the histories and cultures of different peoples" and "Every AP student who engages with evidence is listened to and respected" (notice that this requires engaging with evidence).

While this onslaught isn't new (notice the date on this article), the recent surge of attacks on teachers is having an effect - even in higher education. Public opinion of higher education is also falling [USF ID required], and we have seen some consequences in recent legislation - and in political meddling in campus affairs, as can be seen in recent events in Gainesville. (The University of Florida Chapter recently conducted a survey of the faculty and reported that in each major college-level unit - except Business and the Museum of Natural History - over 40% of the respondents "strongly agreed" that "I would leave UF if I were offered a comparable job elsewhere and personal factors did not keep me here".)

And teachers can go elsewhere. For example, teacher shortages are are hitting the technical programs, partly because technicians can get better pay and job conditions in industry.

One solution popular among many politicians -at least those who don't want to spend money or clean up their act - is to lower credential standards. For example, for-profit programs now offer "alternative certification programs" whose graduates do not seem to perform as well as teachers from more traditional programs.

Governor DeSantis came up with a more ad hoc approach in which the state provides veterans with temporary certificates; however, the legislation providing for this innovation does not provide for better pay or job conditions (or public standing), so apparently the governor hopes that the laws of economics will be suspended for his program - at least long enough for him to get safely into the Oval Office. And while many veterans seeking a second calling would probably make good teachers, it is not clear that shoving them into the classroom with perfunctory training - if that - will benefit either veterans or students.

But if the roots of the problem are low salary, poor job conditions, and politically-motivated calumny, adjusting credentialling and teaching programs are not likely to help much. (Denial is not likely to help much, either.)

While idealism may be enough to attract and keep some hardy souls in the profession [USF ID required], the statistical reality is that either we change the job, or watch the educational system slowly wither. And it is increasingly clear that it is up to us, and that is one thing unions are for. And a recent study by the Economic Policy Institute suggests that unions make things easier for teachers. So if you are not a member, join today and if you are, come to our chapter meeting tomorrow, Friday, at 12 noon, on USF Tampa in EDU 261 - or on Zoom (and get a Zoom invitation from the Chapter Secretary.


The next chapter meeting will be tomorrow Friday, September 9, at 12 noon, on USF Tampa in EDU 261. At 11:30, there will be sandwiches, fruit, drinks and sweets. It will be hybrid on Zoom, and for the Zoom link, contact the Chapter Secretary. All UFF USF employees are welcome.

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.

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