Academic tenure was originally intended to protect faculty who taught evolution or gave speeches criticizing special interests. It soon became a target for ideologues and special interests, and it eroded as tenure became a perk for research faculty as non-tenured teaching and adjunct positions proliferated - and politicians occasionally tried to do away with it altogether. During the last week, the Florida Board of Governors - who oversee all Florida public universities - launched a trial balloon proposing to transform tenure into something that is not tenure.
All the members of the Board of Governors and the various boards of trustees are appointed by Tallahassee politicians. And the moral is: Elections matter. The deadline to register to vote in the general election 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 now.
The election itself is on November 8. 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.
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: post tenure review, report on the UFF Senate, getting out the vote, 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.
The union enforces the contract by responding to contract violations; when an employee's contractual rights or privileges have been violated, that employee may file a grievance stating that the contract has been violated and seeking relief. UFF members have the right to UFF representation if they were members at the time of the violation. The grievance process is extremely important for faculty, and UFF will conduct a workshop on the process on October 7 after the chapter meeting in USF St. Petersburg at the University Student Center in the Palm Room. The workshop will start at about 1:30. All UFF members are invited to participate (non-members may join at the workshop); for more information, contact the UFF USF Chapter President Steve Lang or fill in the Grievance Form saying that you would like to attend.
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.
The Tampa Bay Times article [USF login required] reporting USF's ranking focused (of course) on Gainesville's success in holding onto its # 5 ranking in spite of the problematic behavior of its senior administration and its board, and therein lies an interesting development. We have long been disappointed in the American Association of Universities (AAU) for their indifference to the needs of modern society - e.g., their Phase I / Phase II explicit belittling of agricultural and educational research (and implicitly of the humanities as well). And their silence during the Gainesville melodrama was disturbing. But now, a melodrama at Michigan State University moved the AAU to take a public stand on the appropriate behavior of a board. We commend the AAU for being willing to take a stand, and hope that the betokens greater engagement in the future.
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.
Then the Board of Governors floated a proposed regulation weaponizing Post Tenure Review as an enforcement mechanism for the Anti-WOKE Act. It would mandate "comprehensive post-tenure review" for each faculty member every five years, featuring a "dossier" to go up the hierarchy to the provost, who would determine the outcome. Possible outcomes include a reward for exceeding expectations, a pat on the head for meeting expectations, an improvement plan for not meeting expectations, or summary dismissal. The provost must report outcomes to the board, specifically those involving non-compliance with "state law" (the proposal did not specify which state law, but we can guess), and not as a consent item. That is, boards of trustees must spend time on this and not leave it to the administration.
As the draft circulated, it acquired some objections that presumed shared democratic values:
But what about our contract?
This proposal was for a mere regulation, and Clause 1.2A of the Collective Bargaining Agreement says that No existing, new or amended University rule, policy, regulation, or resolution shall apply to employees in the bargaining unit if it is inconsistent with or conflicts with an express term or provision of the Agreement.. Since this new regulation was (very) inconsistent with the contract, it could not be imposed unilaterally.
It must be bargained. The Florida Constitution guarantees the right to a union that bargain contracts (and Section I.10 of the U.S. Constitution protects contracts from state governments). The Florida Constitution paragraph IX.7(d) says that the Board of Governors is management, but the Board has delegated its bargaining authority to the Boards of Trustees. But the proposed regulation (in item (7)) would tell the boards of trustees what to do. This regulation would generate a lot of work for a lot of lawyers.
The Board of Governors was going to hold a Special Meeting today to consider moving forward (i.e., posting it for a thirty-day comment period and then implementing it), but on Tuesday that Special Meeting was canceled. Whether it was university administrations warning of the danger to their universities or the Board's own legal staff warning of litigation or opposition from high tech industries or nervousness about how numerous lawsuits on other litigation is going (!) or word that it was going to become a campaign issue (or some mixture of these), the Board got cold feet.
Notice that at the bottom of the 9-10 November 2022 meeting page (for a meeting at which the Board may return to this proposal) is the boast that "U.S. News & World Report names Florida No. 1 for higher education for the last five years." Hopefully, the Board will not try to change this.
The next chapter meeting will be tomorrow Friday, September 23, 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.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.