In the United Faculty of Florida, policy is set by the Senate, which meets twice a year, usually in February and September. Senators are elected by UFF members. The Senate hears reports and makes policy. This year, with a statewide recruiting campaign and a lot of ongoing litigation (both lawsuits against laws and grievances on behalf of UFF members), the first in-person senate meeting in nineteen months had a full agenda.
The deadline to register to vote in the general election is next Tueday, October 11, and the deadline to request a mail ballot in the general election is October 29. However, as mail ballots are already being sent out, we recommend that anyone planning on voting by mail send in their request for a mail ballot now.
Amidst all this sturm und drang, the Senate decided to make a statement.
The USF Chapter of the United Faculty of Florida will meet tomorrow Friday at 12 noon on USF St. Petersburg at the University Student Center (USC/WEL on the campus map) in the Palm Room; it will also be hybrid on Zoom. There will be sandwiches, fruit, drinks, and sweets starting at 11:30. On the agenda: Hurricane Ian, meeting with the USF St. Petersburg Administration, Getting Out The Vote, grievance tranining after the meeting, and more. And here are the minutes for the previous meeting. The chapter meeting will be followed by a Grievance Workshop to which all UFF members are invited (see below).
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. The grievance process is extremely important for faculty, and UFF will conduct a workshop on the process on October 7 after the chapter meeting on 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.
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.
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.
The Senate meeting started on a Churchillian note, with UFF President Andrew Gothard saying that the recent flood of hostile legislation is designed to make us afraid. "Authorities go after people who get the job done … our opponents use fear, because fear makes you silent." But "we are not afraid and we are not going to be silent." But we can only succeed if we stand together. Our goal, he said, was the protect ourselves, our union, our higher education institutions, our communities, and make Florida higher education the envy of the world.
We received updates on the lawsuits against 2021 House Bill 233 (which bars universities from protecting students from offensive speech while permitting students to record lectures - and mandates an annual "intellectual diversity" survey) and 2022 House Bill 7 (which requires that students be protected from offensive woke speech) (consistency is not the Legislature's strong point). UFF is optimistic about the outcome of its lawsuit against HB 233 (the survey was a bust, with less than 1% of all college students and about 2% of all faculty responding to a survey sent to everyone). UFF is supporting a lawsuit against House Bill 7 by UFF UCF Chapter President (and UCF history professor) Robert Cassanello, along with the ACLU and the NAACP (here is a link to a recording of a webinar on the lawsuit). Separately, USF Professor Adriana Novoa and USF student Sam Recheck (with the USF First Amendment Forum) have filed a lawsuit against House Bill 7, supported by the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression.
As the Biweekly observed in the previous issue, the Post Tenure Faculty Review component of Senate Bill 7044 and the (temporarily?) backburnered Board of Governors Regulation 10.003 looks like an enforcement mechanism for House Bill 7.
One of the union's lawyers made a presentation on litigation before various tribunals, including commissions and courts. Commissioners and judges are appointed by Tallahassee politicians. That means we need to elect representatives who take the selection of commissioners and judges seriously.
The litigation is likely to continue for some time, so what should faculty do in the meantime? The most pressing problem seemed to be House Bill 7, which the governor dubbed the Stop WOKE Act, and which characterizes as "discrimination based on race, color, sex, or national origin" any "training, instruction, or any other required activity" that "espouses, promotes, advances, inculcates, or compels such individual to believe" a list of eight "concepts," some noxious, some controversial, some vague, etc. The enforcement mechanism was to cut funding of any agency engaging in such teaching, although the characterization of such teaching as "discrimination" might expose teachers to lawsuits.
Post tenure review may be the intended enforcement mechanism, but absent that, what are university administrations likely to do? There are signs that some university administrations - which (as the Gainesville soap opera makes clear), for all practical purposes, serve at the pleasure of their boards - are inclined to placate their boards. The result is two recommendations.
Incidentally, the experience from other states suggest that when UFF becomes a majority union, both bargaining and grievances will be easier. As for UFF, membership density throughout all institutions UFF organized increased from 22% to 35% over the last seventeen years. We are on the way there, so if you are not a member, join today.
As the union becomes more prominent defending public education in Florida, and it becomes more clear what we are against, we are sometimes asked what the union is for. To answer this question, the Senate approved Vision and Mission statements, as well as a list of Values.
The next chapter meeting will be tomorrow Friday, October 7, at 12 noon, on USF St. Petersburg at the University Student Center in the Palm Room. 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.