A new law requires that the USF Chapter of the United Faculty of Florida have 60% of the employees that it represents as dues-paying members.
Any employee in the Bargaining Unit may attend, but to Zoom in you must have an invitation: contact the Chapter Secretary to get one.
And we will be holding a Tailgate at the November 11 football game between USF and Temple University; the UFF tailgate tent will be in Parking Section 6D. All UFF members and UFF USF employees interested in joining UFF, along with family, are invited. Tickets for the game can be purchased via Ticketmaster. As we would like to know how much food to order for the Tailgate, please RSVP to the UFF USF Chapter President.
|If you are not a union member, please join today (the form connects automatically to the eDues form, so you will want to have your banking info or checkbook information handy). We are stronger standing together.|
The USF Chapter of the United Faculty of Florida was "certified" in March, 2003, so under the law (Senate Bill 256), 60% of the 1,600 or so employees of the UFF USF Bargaining Unit must be dues-paying members by March in order for the Chapter to retain "certification"; certification is necessary for bargaining and pursuing grievances.
If such a union does not have "union density" of at least 60% of the employees it represents as members, that union must seek "recertification" from the Public Employees Relations Commission (PERC, whose members are appointed by the governor). Recertification is a big deal, and failure to get recertified would strip the USF Chapter of its certification. That would mean that the Chapter could no longer bargain with the USF Administration and could no longer pursue grievances.
The law does not address the contract, which should not be affected unless the Chapter loses its certification, and even then, when UFF bargained the contract, it represented the employees, and it was the employees and the Board of Trustees that ratified the contract. The contract is between the employees and the Board. Any attempt to set the contract itself aside would only lead to more litigation. And it would be a breach of faith.
But the clock would be ticking. Bargaining is supposed to start in April, and the contract itself is supposed to be replaced on August 7. The union must be certified by August 7.
So, what are we doing about this?
Last spring, the Florida Legislature passed and the governor signed the law (see Clause (6)) requiring that certain unions - including unions representing educators - have at least 60% of the employees that they represent as dues-paying members in order to remain "certified". Any such union that has less than 60% of its employees as members must seek "recertification" or be decertified - and recertification is far from automatic.
So the law says that three-fifths of the employees in the UFF USF Bargaining Unit must pay in order for the employees of the Bargaining Unit to have the right to union representation. But the right to union representation is in Article I, Section 6 of the Florida Constitution, which says, "The right of employees, by and through a labor organization, to bargain collectively shall not be denied or abridged." And the courts have long taken a dim view of demanding that people pay for their rights.
So, our state affiliate, the Florida Education Association, has filed a lawsuit to overturn the law. The case is now in a state court - litigation takes time and money (and union dues are paying for the lawyers). We expect the law to be overturned … eventually. But meantime, we need to keep the union certified.
The most straightforward thing to do is to sign up more members. We started fall with about 30% of the UFF USF employees being members, and since then we have recruited more, bringing "union density" to 35%. The union has launched a membership blitz and calls on all non-members to join today and all members to join the recruiting drive.
And 60% membership will do more than preserve UFF's certification.
But there is a problem. The law that requires 60% union density also bans dues payment by paycheck deduction. Paycheck deduction stopped in July.
After exploring options, the union chose to have dues paid by debiting from a bank account. The membership form asks for checking account information and authorization to debit 1/25th of 1% of salary every other week. Thus, an employee making $80,000 annually would pay $800 in annual dues and thus have $31 debited from their checking account every other week.Unfortunately, many union members have not signed up for eDues, and consequently were delisted last month. Without union membership, an employee cannot be represented by the union in a grievance, cannot participate in union elections, has less access to the union's democratic decision-making process, and is not helping the union defend and advance employee rights and privileges.
But what if we don't make 60% by March? The courts probably won't have resolved the issue by then, so the union is also working on a Plan B.
There is a procedure for getting recertified. A union seeking certification distributes a petition to hold an election on whether the union shall represent the faculty of the Bargaining Unit. Signing the petition does not mean that one wants to be represented by the union; it means that one wants an election that will decide whether the employees are represented by the union. This petition consists of cards, one card per employee, which is why it is called a card campaign.
Once enough cards are signed, PERC will hold an election (if recertification is necessary). All employees in the Bargaining Unit can vote. If a majority of votes are in favor of union representation, the union is certified. Voting to be represented by the union does not mean you are joining the union; it only means that you want the union to bargain and enforce your contract.
While winning a certification election is often a challenge for a new union, a longstanding union like UFF typically wins overwhelmingly (even non-members want a contract).
But it is a major distraction: it disrupts grievances, and bargaining starts the next month after March. And it would be much worse if UFF waited until March to conduct the card campaign. So we are starting now.
Recruiters in the Membership Blitz are not only talking to non-members about joining the union (and to members about becoming more active); recruiters are also carrying cards to send to PERC. Just in case. (Actually, we are asking people to sign two cards - one for PERC and one for the lawyers.) And we ask everyone who wants to make sure that UFF is bargaining in April to sign a card.
If you have been the victim of a violation of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, 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.
Don't forget: UFF can only represent an employee in a grievance if that employee was a member at the time of the contract violation. And as of the end of last month, the FEA does not want its lawyers to assist any UFF members who are not on eDues, so if you are a UFF member but did not switch eDues, that should be fixed TODAY. And don't forget that if there is a contract violation, the grievance must be filed within thirty days.
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 all three campuses.
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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.