United Faculty of Florida, Spring 2005
January 6, 2005
Scenes We Like To See
On Monday, December 13, Administrators and Faculty met to sign the first
contract between the United Faculty of Florida and the USF Board of
And here are some scenes we all waited a loooong time to see!
People came and went; there were approximately 24 in all.
University President Judy Genshaft and Chapter President Roy
Weatherford sign the 2004 - 2007 Combined Bargaining Agreement as
Administration Chief Negotiator Noreen Segrist and union Chief
Negotiator Bob Welker look on.
A contract in hand ...
From left: Administration Chief Negotiator Noreen Segrist (from
the General Counsel's Office), University President Judy
Genshaft (Psychology), Chapter President Roy Weatherford
(Philosophy), and union Chief Negotiator Bob Welker (Accounting).
From left: Kathleen de la Pena McCook and Steve Permuth from the
union team, Associate Vice Provost (and administration team member)
Trudie Frecker, Mark Klisch, USF Faculty Senate President and Trustee
(and former union team member) Susan Greenbaum, union propagandist
Greg McColm, Roy Weatherford, Judy Genshaft, Bob Welker, Noreen Segrist,
Vice Provost Phil Smith from the Administration team, and Associate Vice
Provost (and administration team member) Sandy Lovins.
Many thanks to Bill Murray for taking these pictures!
Said Roy Weatherford, "This isn't a victory party; it's a success party."
Said Judy Genshaft, "We're the model ... we both want what's best for
The President's Conference Room in Allen Hall, where the signing
ceremony took place.
Roses were courtesy of Bob Welker; don't tell the Leg. about the
Two members of the union's bargaining team, Art Shapiro from
Education and Keith White from St. Petersburg, couldn't make it to
Roy Weatherford: "Two years ago, Judy [Genshaft] and [former Chapter
President] Mitch [Silverman] appointed a joint committee to study
how to update the contract, and Bob [Welker] has studied for it
Mark Klisch said that Phil Smith did much of the work on the
committee, armed with an annotated copy of the 2001 - 2003
Combined Bargaining Agreement.
Roy Weatherford said that he couldn't believe the amount of work
that bargaining team members did, and Phil Smith -- a veteran of
bargaining with UFF at Tallahassee -- said, "This is my tenth
contract. No one knows how hard chief negotiators work."
Steve Permuth: "If the common goal is the betterment of the
university, we will find a way."
January 20, 2005
AFT Educator Article on Reading
The United Faculty of Florida -- the statewide
organization, of which the USF Chapter is but one part --
is a union local of the Florida Education Association,
which in turn is affiliated jointly with the National
Education Assocation and the American Federation of
Teachers. The NEA and the AFT provide several benefits
to members, and one that the AFT provides is a free
subscription to their flagship journal, the AFT Educator.
Last Fall, the AFT Educator ran a feature issue on early
reading problems, (with the alarming subtitle "the
Devastating Downwards Spiral") mostly at the K-3 level.
This is of interest to university faculty because:
The issue is
and the articles run in a sort of reverse logical order.
- Some of the problems are similar to those our
freshmen (and other) students encounter in their
quantum leaps from high school to college.
- Subtle and chronic variations of these problems
may afflict our own students, even though they
made it through high school and into college.
Perhaps the basic article is an unsigned editorial,
Waiting Rarely Works: "Late Bloomers" Usually Just Wilt.
For several decades, parents and teachers confronted with
a first grader who could not read would hope that the
child was a "late bloomer" who would cross some threshold
a year or two later and catch up with the rest of the
class. But during the last decade or so, several
studies suggest that lagging children rarely catch up
on their own.
There were two theories. The "brain maturation"
theory suggested that different students mature at
different rates, and that students who lagged in first
grade would catch up later. On the other hand, the
"skill deficit" theory suggested that students who
lagged in first grade lagged because they lacked
specific skills, and that they would not even begin
to catch up until they developed those skills.
The column reports that several studies support
the skills deficit theory. One set of studies
reported that while late bloomers exist, they are rare:
a "poor reader" in first grade has about a 90 % chance
of being a "poor reader" in third grade. One study
suggested that the critical skill deficit was "phonemic
awareness": the ability to deal with the individual
sounds making up words and associate those sounds with
While these articles focus on K-3 (or K-6), one
study indicates that reading improvement in absolute
terms slows after sixth grade. (Suddenly, the gentle
webmaster is reminded of Morris Adler & C. van Doren's
lament that in the USA, there is no reading instruction
after grade six.) Another study confirms the unpleasant
corollary: those who were behind in first grade usually
don't catch up by sixth grade and, ultimately, don't
catch up in high school.
The "phoneme awareness" skill happens to be a
basic one that some experts believe is reliably
testable. Several of the articles argue that very young
children should be screened for phonemic awareness and
other critical skills, and those deficient should get
remedial work at once.
The feature article,
Preventing Early Reading Failure
by Joseph K. Torgesen, the director of the Florida
Center for Reading Research, begins with one explanation
of the devastating spiral -- deficient students are
unable or unwilling to effectively practice reading and
thus never become any good at it -- and then turns to
types of problems, teaching methods, screening and
Torgeson identifies two kinds of deficiencies.
Some students have specific "phonological" weaknesses,
but are otherwise competent in "oral language ability."
Others, largely coming from deprived backgrounds, suffer
a number of pre-reading deficiencies. (Curiously, he
does not list as a third category, students suffering
from specific disorders, such as dyslexia.)
Torgeson then turns to teaching methods, which is
mostly a discussion of phonics instruction. Phonics
has been a politically charged issue (a point he does
not mention), but Torgeson sticks to the results of
his studies, which suggest that while all students may
benefit from phonics instruction, the greatest benefit
would go to inadequately prepared students.
Screening would be best conducted orally by
a teacher or aide, apparently one-on-one with the
student. Several mini-oral-exams can be conducted
through the year to monitor the student's progress.
Torgeson gives little comfort to adherents of mass
Once a deficiency has been recognized, Torgeson
recommends relatively immediate intervention. The
deficiency should be explicitly addressed, without
assumptions about other skills the students may or
may not have. And this is a quantity time, not a
quality time, intervention: students have to spend
a lot of their time and energy to benefit. And
throughout, students need emotional support and
intellectual support, the latter consisting of a lot
of specific guidance and direction.
The success rates of extant programs for K - 3
students vary widely, and "Intervention research has
not yet discovered the conditions that need to be in
place to enable every child to acquire adequate
word-level reading skills in early elementary school."
Success rates for grades 4 - 6 were more problematic,
and even students with only "moderate" reading
impairment fell further behind their "normal"
classmates. Torgeson suggests one reason why older
students are less successful: since reading is so
difficult, they read only what they have to, and get
much less practice.
This lack of success with older students haunts
the entire feature, and Torgeson urges (1) early
screening and early intervention, and (2) development
of more effective intervention techniques for older
The unsigned editorial
compares medical screening and reading skill screening
noting that for both, time is of the essence. The
editorial also warns against dropping history and
science to make room for reading instruction, noting
that history and science are what students read
about (Torgeson would have said that if students
don't have anything to read about, they won't read
on their own).
This leads to a problem that that issue of AFT
Educator did not address: do schools use books that
children would want to read? Since Torgeson's results
rely heavily on voluntary reading -- which probably
has more animorphs and graphic novels than history
or science -- this may be a serious issue. Especially
now that school books are not just competing against
non-school books, but also television.
One aspect of this problem was addressed in the
latest issue of AFT Educator, in Barbara Feinberg's
Reflections on the Problem Novel.
Feinberg's own children do read, but the novels that
her children are assigned are very dark, so much that
her children avoid reading them. Feinberg's chief
concern is about whether children are being exposed
to "too much, too soon," but she does raise the
question of what happens if schools make reading too
unpleasant, at least too unpleasant for younger
students who may not up to long sequences of emotional
What does all this say about college students?
Remember, the AFT Educator's feature was about
catastrophic failure, the sort of failure that results
in dropping out of high school. Our students have
learned how to get by, or at least get into college.
What more subtle and chronic problems do our own
students suffer from?
- We have been warned. We already know of one
situation in which the notion of "late blooming"
may be deceptive. Our retention problems may
also require early intervention, and that
intervention might involve identifying and
addressing specific deficiencies -- and these
interventions are probably energy and time
- And how well do our students read? This is an
awkward question, but try asking your freshman
students to read out loud. How well do students
read the text, and how much time and energy do
students put into reading texts if their past
experiences with texts were negative?
February 3, 2005
Call for Nominations
This spring all elective positions for the USF Chapter
of the United Faculty of Florida (faculty union) are
open for election. The UFF Elections Committee calls
for nominations for the positions of:
Nominators and nominees must be UFF members. The
election will be held later in February by mail ballot;
only UFF members are eligible to vote.
- Vice President
- UFF Senator (to the biannual meeting of the
- FEA Delegate (to the annual meeting of the
Florida Education Association Assembly)
Faculty who are not interested in working in an
executive position, but who do want to contribute, are
encouraged to consider running for one of the
representative positions: UFF Senator and/or FEA
Delegate. The UFF Senate meets over a weekend in late
spring and again in early fall, while the FEA Assembly
meets over 2-3 days in late spring. These are important
positions, and they provide one of the primary venues
for USF to be heard in the union.
All nominations should be sent to:
Greg McColm, Chair
UFF Elections Committee
c/o Department of Mathematics
A nomination must include the name of the nominator and
the name of the nominee, and the position in question.
The nomination -- and if the nominee is not the nominator,
permission by the nominee -- must be received by Feb. 11.
Self-nominations are encouraged. We also encourage
nominees to write a brief (250 words) self-description
to be included with the ballot materials.
For more information, contact
the Election Chair. For your convenience, there
MS Word form on-line for making nominations
It is part of the human condition that contracts do not
magically enforce themselves. We have a contract --
the 2004 - 2007 Collective Bargaining Agreement (on-line
a 102-page PDF file), but
for the terms and conditions to be followed, we have to
make sure that they are followed. One way to do this is
with the Grievance Process, which is described in
Article 20 (pp. 57 - 64). The grievance process is
different from that of the previous contract because the
previous contract involved the Board of Regents, which
no longer exists.
Here is an outline of the new grievance process.
There are two critical things to remember. First,
a "grievance" is a formal complaint that the contract
has been violated. It is NOT a complaint about an
iniquity or a stupidity: it is not a contractual
violation for someone to be iniquitous or stupid. A
grievance is a complaint that a specific clause in the
contract was violated in such-and-such a way.
The second thing to remember is that a grievance
MUST be filed within thirty days of the time that the
employee knew or should have known of the violation.
If the grievance is filed late, it can be (and ALWAYS
has been) rejected.
Here is the procedure, which presumes that the
grievance is between a employee and an immediate
supervisor (eg, the chair).
Step 1. For 30 days the parties will attempt to
resolve the dispute informally. This period can be
extended by mutual consent, but if the informal
resolution of the matter is unsatisfactory, the grievant
may demand a formal hearing, moving the grievance
to Step 2.
Step 2. This is a hearing before a representative
of the university, usually before a delegate of the
Provost. The two parties can present evidence, and the
university representative makes a ruling.
Throughout Step 1 and Step 2, the grievant is
assisted by a volunteer, a union member working as a
Grievance Officer, who has spent some time learning
how the contract works and how the grievance works.
(A grievant may elect to represent him/herself in the
grievance process, or to be represented by legal counsel.
Since most lawyers are relatively ignorant of labor
law (!), this assistance is often at least as effective
as legal representation. It is also cheaper.)
It is when Step 2 doesn't suffice that the fun
Step 3. Both UFF and the USF Administration are
drawing up a list of impartial arbitrators, and when
Step 2 fails, UFF (not the grievant!) has the option
of moving the case to "arbitration." The case is heard
before one of the arbitrators, who can rule only on
contractual issues (eg, the arbitrator can rule that
an employee was denied tenure improperly and therefore
should have another chance, as that is a contractual
issue, but the arbitrator cannot rule that a faculty
member denied tenure should get tenure, as that is a
judgement call outside the arbitrator's competence);
the arbitrator's rulings are final and set precedents
(which is why the union is very particular about what
cases to send to arbitration). Arbitration also costs
the union lots of money (which, ahem, come from your
There are several final points.
1st. If you are having problems with a
supervisor, it is very important to be able to
document what has happened. If things get ominous,
start a journal, noting date, time, place, and
specifics of relevant events, and save all documents
(including e-mail: print out hardcopies, as courts
have ruled that state machines are property of the
state and can be monitored or even taken away by the
2nd. The employee has a contractual right to
review their personnel file, and this is strongly
recommended in order to ensure that material is not
later withdrawn or added inappropriately. The
employee should paginate and initial every page, and
photocopy for their own records whatever they believe
is relevant for their case.
3rd. You have not only a contractual right, but
the right under federal law, to have a grievance
officer come with you to any hearing at which you may
be subject to disciplinary action; in fact, if you
are at a meeting with your supervisor, and your
supervisor starts to discuss disciplinary action, you
have the right to suspend the meeting in order to get
a grievance officer to attend a resumption of the
But if you have a problem, the first step is to
contact our Grievance Chair,
Mark Klisch. Please call even if it
is a problem not addressed by the contract: we are
keeping track of problematica to be addressed in
future contracts (or by other means), and we need to
keep informed about what is going on.
That's the process, and the gentle reader may notice
that there is a lot of labor involved. The
administration pays administrators to handle its side.
The union must rely on volunteers.
So we conclude with a call for volunteers.
People who are interested in helping their colleagues
in trouble, and who are willing to learn the grievance
process and study the contract. We are planning for
some grievance training this semester, so everyone
interested in attending should please contact our
February 17, 2005
Every year, the USF Chapter of UFF elects its four
elective officers (president, vice president,
secretary, and treasurer) and its varying number of
representatives (this year, twelve UFF senators and
six FEA delegates).
(There are other appointed positions -- the
Chief Negotiator (and the Bargaining Team), the
Grievance Chair (and the Grievance Committee), the
Membership Chair (currently two co-chairs), and
the Publicity Chair.)
During the last few weeks, union members
nominated union members to run for these positions,
and now the ballot packets are going out. EACH
MEMBER OF THE BARGAINING UNIT WHO WAS A UFF MEMBER
AS OF JANUARY 15 SHOULD RECEIVE A BALLOT: IF YOU
DO NOT RECEIVE ONE BY THE END OF NEXT WEEK, CONTACT
THE ELECTION CHAIR,
The ballot packets contain (1) instructions on
a yellow sheet, (2) a ballot on a blue sheet (with
races on BOTH sides), (3) descriptions of candidates
on two white sheets of paper stapled together, (4)
one small blank envelope to hold the ballot, and (5)
one regular sized envelope addressed to UFF, with a
PRINT NAME and a SIGNATURE line on the upper left
Fill out the ballot: notice you can write in
someone's name and vote for that "write-in candidate,"
however only UFF members may be elected. Notice
that you vote for one candidate in each of the four
executive races, for up to eleven candidates in the
senate race (the president is ex officio a senator),
and for up to five candidates in the delegate race
(the president is ex officio a delegate).
Here are the offices you are voting on.
Once you have filled out the ballot, fold it
and put it in the small blank envelope. Seal this
small envelope, and DO NOT MARK IT. Put the small
envelope in the regular envelope. Then PRINT YOUR
NAME CLEARLY on the PRINT NAME line, and sign on
the SIGNATURE line, and seal the regular envelope.
It is now ready to mail.
The President is the chief executive officer
and chief spokesperson for the chapter. This
includes representing the chapter to the state
office of UFF, overseeing the USF office, etc.
The Vice President assists the president.
The Secretary takes minutes and maintains
other records as the chapter directs.
The Treasurer pays the bills.
The UFF Senators represent USF at the (usually
two) statewide meetings of the UFF Senate, in April
and September. The UFF Senate is the legislative
body of UFF.
- The FEA Delegates are part of the UFF delegation
representing UFF, as a union local, in the annual
meeting of the Florida Education Association Delegate
Assembly, which is the legislative body of the FEA.
It is a huge assembly, of the largest union in the
If you choose to mail by campus mail, just
deposit it in the campus mail. If you choose to
mail by first class mail, PUT A STAMP ON IT before
mailing. ALL BALLOTS MUST BE RECEIVED BY MARCH 10.
Ballots will be counted on March 11 at the union
office, NEC223, at 2 pm. All union members are
The Wheels Turn ... Slowly
While we have a new contract, the battle over the
old one continues. The stakes are high. In the
short range, the union contends that the terms and
conditions of the contract held from January 7,
2003 through December 2, 2004 at USF (and still
hold at the nine institutions whose boards refuse
to honor it). In the long range, the union
contends that all the arbitration decisions on the
old contract, made over the last quarter century,
still hold. And on a grander scale, unions
nationwide contend that a state government cannot
simply reorganize itself out of a union.
As labor news junkies will recall, the old
contract, the 2001 - 2003 Collective Bargaining
Agreement, expired on January 7, 2003. Before
expiration, the SUS boards of trustees refused
to discuss bargaining a successor contract. Then
after the contract expired, the boards claimed
that the reorganization had eliminated the union.
The 2002 - 2003 academic year at USF saw the
most public side of the battle: the card campaign
that ultimately led to the USF Board voluntarily
recognizing the union. Most other boards also
voluntarily recognized UFF, but not UWF, not
FSU, and most dramatically of all, not UF, whose
board is still fighting to get UFF off campus.
Less public was the legal battle.
Such fights are fought before the Public
Employee Relations Commission, a group appointed
by the governor, and whose rulings have grown
rather ... strange ... during the last few
years. Among the strange decisions was a the
ruling that, "it would be illogical to conclude
that there is continuity between the BOE and the
university boards of trustees," and thus that
the boards did NOT have to recognize the union,
nor the terms and conditions of the old contract,
and thus the old arbitration precedents did not
apply. This was a peculiar decision, as most
contracts -- leases, deliveries, etc -- do not
magically disappear when one party reorganizes
(and certainly not in labor law); indeed, this
decision was nothing less than an open invitation
to anti-union state agencies everywhere to try to
wriggle out of union contracts.
On February 14, the First District Court of
Florida ruled otherwise. Judge J. Benton wrote
that "State government cannot ... unilaterally
terminate its obligations under a collective
bargaining agreement simply by reorganizing its
executive branch." Benton irritably directed
that, "PERC must itself comply with statutes it
administers...," before reviewing the precedents
and concluding, "None of PERC's prior decisions
support its decision in the present case." The
ruling (still subject to rehearing) concludes by
reversing PERC's decision and remanding the case
back to PERC.
For afficionados, this is case number
1D-03-4689, and both
the docket and
Judge Benton's opinion are on-line.
For USF faculty, the stakes are
substantial: do the old arbitration precedents
still hold? For faculty in the universities
still without contracts, the stakes are a lot
higher: they would get the protection of the
terms and conditions of the old contract, and
the negotiating advantage that the old contract
provides. But this is about more than the
Florida State University System. And in a sense,
it is about more than the national concern among
unions (and national giddiness among anti-union
governments) about whether unions can be
reorganized out of existence. The ultimate
question is whether a state agency like PERC
has to obey a law it doesn't like. And the court
has said quite bluntly that it does.
March 3, 2005
Education Week's latest Quality Counts lists Florida
as the 46th out of 50 states on resources for
education, as opposed to 44th last year. Education
Week decided that that rated Florida a D+.
We've been hearing this kind of news for years,
so many of us were not surprised by the letter from
Provost Renu Khator warning us that the Governor's
proposed budget failed to fund three fourths of
USF's anticipated enrollment growth, and that it
proposed making up the difference by raising tuition
by 7.5 %.
A look at the comparison between the Board of
Governor's request and the Governor's proposal is
an administration worksheet.
The State University System was appropriated
$ 2.182 billion last year, and assuming a somewhat
optimistic 2 % inflation rate, the SUS would need
over $ 2.23 billion the coming year to keep even
at current levels (eg, same number of students).
The BOG requested $ 2.313 billion, which would
probably be less than a 4 % increase after inflation.
The Governor recommends $ 2.064 billion, probably
an 8 % cut after (an optimistic projection of)
There are several interesting items:
Notice that despite news stories to the contrary,
the chiropractic school that FSU doesn't want is
still on the budget.
- Despite many public complaints, the Governor
recommends that the state continue to renege
on its commitment to match donations, which
will probably make fundraising more difficult.
- Access to higher education is cut by three
fourths, and a collection of programs for
building the research programs -- including
all funding for Centers of Excellence -- are
- The Florida Retirement System is having a
rate increase. This is a Carl Hiaasen
moment. Political junkies will recall that
the FRS lost $ 335 million in the Enron mess,
and more recently FRS money was used to bail
out the politically connected Edison Schools,
which is now seeking to assume management of
"failed" schools in Florida.
As the press has observed, the cuts are to
be made up by squeezing students. This may be
complicated. An Executive Summary for the January
BOG meeting (it is
says that while there used to be a legal cap
preventing students from being charged more than
25 % of the costs of their education, the current
rate was 30 %. Of course, some states charge up
to 52 %. There have been proposals to raise
tuition across-the-board, to create new tuition
systems that will generate more money (by greatly
increasing the load on certain segments of the
student population), etc.
The Legislature is in session, and this
being Florida, it is hard to guess what will
ultimately come out.
Many union contracts require management to meet with
the union regularly to discuss current events.
Things come up, and many times it is wise to handle
them before they get out of hand. The 2004 - 2007
contract says five consultations a year, and the
first this year was on Thursday, February 17. A
delegation led by President Roy Weatherford met with
a delegation led by President Judy Genshaft. There
was a long list of technical problems, and a few
One looming issue is the status, position,
and treatment of unranked faculty, i.e., the vast
group of instructors, researchers, scholars,
visitors, etc., who do much of the work of the
university. (Unranked faculty are more visible
than adjuncts, who also do a lot of work.) The
Administration, the Faculty Senate, and the union
are looking into the issue; this is an item on the
Chapter Meeting's agenda tomorrow.
The biggest technical problem was the now
notorious sabbatical glitch.
In the 2001 - 2003 contract, Section 22.3 (e)
(4) read: "Employees shall not normally be eligible
for a second sabbatical until six (6) years of
continuous service are completed following the
first." But in the 2004 - 2007 contract, Section
22.3 (e) (4) says, "Employees shall not normally be
eligible to apply for a second sabbatical until at
least six (6) years of continuous service are
completed following the first ..."
The problem was presented to the Faculty
Senate in January: since the application process
took upwards to a year, the bar on applying for a
sabbatical for six years since the last one meant
that a faculty member could not go on sabbatical
until seven years had passed. In effect,
sabbaticals were now one in every eighth year
rather than one in every seventh.
Now, the change in 22.3 (e) (4) mirrored a
similar change in the language of 22.3 (c), which
dealt with years since initial employment, and
indeed initial employment -- that is to say,
tenure -- appears to be one of the two central
problems: if any faculty member could apply
for a sabbatical after only five years of
service, a tenure-track faculty member could
apply for a sabbatical and tenure simultaneously,
and be denied tenure while receiving a sabbatical.
The change in 22.3 (c) sort of fixed this tenure
problem, but what happened to 22.3 (e) (4) is
(Note that being eligible for a sabbatical
does not mean that the sabbatical will be awarded.
There are a limited number of sabbaticals, which
are awarded on a competitive basis.)
At the faculty meeting, the senior
administrators present, including President
Genshaft and President Weatherford, agreed that
this was a glitch. Nevertheless, the situation
is awkward. UFF pressed the Administration on
the glitch, and the Administration announced, in
effect, that faculty who wished to apply for a
sabbatical (in this cycle) that would come into
effect after six years of continuous service
could do so provided they attached a rationale
for, um, abnormal treatment. This approach
allows for finessing the problem. The letter
from the Provost is at
and such applications were due by February 21.
Sabbaticals were discussed at for over an
hour at the consultation, and the precise legal
situation is uncertain. The union is exploring
options, but as the issue is likely to be
addressed in bargaining, the immediate short
term consideration for the union is whether any
faculty were injured.
If you chose not to apply for such a
sabbatical or had your application rejected
because of the change in language, please call
the union at 974-2428.
March 17, 2005
The Chapter just held its annual elections.
As usual, we started in January with a call for
nominations; every UFF member who asked (or consented)
to run was on the ballot. We then sent ballots to
everyone who was a UFF member as of January 15 (only
UFF members may vote).
We have four elected executive officers. Here are
the newly elected officers (all four races were
The President is ex officio a UFF Senator; USF holds
eleven other seats at the UFF Senate, the legislature
of UFF, which meets next on the April 2-3 weekend.
Here are the other newly elected senators and
- For President, Roy Weatherford
- For Vice President, Mark Klisch
- For Secretary, Jana Martin
- For Treasurer, Sherman Dorn
The President is also ex officio an FEA Delegate; USF
holds five other seats at the FEA Assembly, the
legislature of the Florida Education Association, which
meets in May. Here are the other newly elected
delegates and alternates:
- Jim Cebulski (alt)
- Sherman Dorn
- Abdelwahab Hechiche (alt)
- Lilyan Kay (alt)
- Mark Klisch
- Steve Lang (alt)
- Jana Martin (alt)
- Greg McColm
- Kathleen de la Pena McCook
- Steve Permuth
- Arthur Shapiro
- Nancy Tyson
- Harry Vanden
- Robert Welker
- Judy Wilkerson
- Sonia Ramirez Wohlmuth
- Sherman Dorn
- William Heller
- Mary Kaplan (alt)
- Jana Martin (alt)
- Greg McColm
- Harry Vanden
- Sonia Ramirez Wohlmuth
And Many Thanks for Years of Faithful Service
For eight years, Maggie Doherty has been secretary for
the USF Chapter of UFF. This is a low-profile position:
people really only notice it when (a) something goes
wrong, or (b) people want to look something up.
Ms Doherty kept our Chapter's minutes and kept us up to
Her professional duties were similarly critical yet
quiet. She came to USF in 1987, three years after
getting her Master's from Indiana, and joined the
library. She has long worked in Collection Development,
with expertise in English, Languages and Linguistics,
Humanities/American Studies, and Classics. She also
worked in the digitization program.
Ms Doherty retired last year. We are grateful for
her years of service, and we wish her well in her future
Employee Performance Evaluations
Each year, each employee in the bargaining unit is
supposed to be presented with their annual Employee
Performance Evaluation, evaluating their performance
(where applicable) in "teaching effectiveness,"
"contribution to the discovery of new knowledge, etc,"
"public service that extends professional or
discipline-related contributions to the community,"
"participation in the governance processes of the
institution...," and "other assigned university
duties." The entire procedure and methodology is
outlined in Article 10 of the contract, available
a huge PDF file.
It seems that some employees have not been
getting their evaluations on time, or perhaps even
at all. There are two major consequences:
There is a more subtle problem. Suppose that the
evaluation is only somewhat late: it was produced
in time for salaries or packets, but something in
it was wrong; there may not be enough time for the
affected employee to get the evaluation reviewed before
salary or tenure/promotion decisions are made. The
result would be a salary or tenure/promotion decision
made on the basis of an incorrect evaluation.
- If the evaluation was not conducted by the time
salary raise and bonus decisions are made, the
affected employee may not get a raise or bonus
to which the employee would have been entitled.
- If the evaluation was not conducted in time to
be placed in a tenure or promotion packet, then
the packet may be deficient.
Evaluations should be provided on a timely basis,
so that faculty can inspect them, and get them reviewed
According to Section 10.3 A (1) of
the contract, "The proposed written evaluation,
including the employee’s annual assignment which was
furnished pursuant to Article 9.3, shall be provided
to the employee within thirty (30) days after the end
of the academic term during which such evaluation will
be made." For an employee evaluated for the calendar
year 2004, this language could be construed to give
a deadline in January (as the evaluation process starts
with teaching evaluations the previous year), but such
evaluations have often been completed later in the
spring semester, and apparently the Provost's office
construes this language to give a deadline in late
May (thirty days or so after the end of the semester).
Whatever the case, a faculty member evaluated for
the calendar year 2003 should have received their
evaluation long before December, 2004, and it was just
such a delay that moved the Provost's Office to send
a letter to Deans and Chairs advising that this
semester, employees evaluated for the calendar year
2004 should receive their evaluations by the end of
May. May, 2005, in case anybody asks.
So an employee being evaluated for the 2004
calendar year who does not receive their evaluation
during this semester has a serious problem.
We often don't notice evaluations (they seem
merely another piece of paper that we're supposed to
handle, and we handle so much paper), but as employees
are held responsible for what evaluations say,
employees should take them very seriously. Especially
when they are missing.
This brings us to an important point. The
contract may say that the Administration must
evaluate us in a timely manner, but it also says that
employees must file complaints in a timely manner.
Article 20 of the contract provides for filing a
"grievance," ie, a formal complaint, filed at the
Provost's Office, that the contract has been violated.
This complaint must be filed within 30 days of "the
date on which the employee knew or reasonably should
have known" of the violation. That means that if an
employee knows or should have known that the
evaluations should have been returned by a certain
date, and the evaluations weren't, the employee has
thirty days to file a grievance.
That means that an academic employee who does
not receive their annual evaluation on time (end of
May, according to the Provost's Office) should
act -- by the end of June. If an employee waits
several months, the administration may legitimately
refuse to address the delay, or any damage that
resulted from it.
This burden on the employee to complain, and to
complain within thirty days, holds for all grievances.
One typically cannot wait half a year and then complain;
employees have a contractual obligation to complain in a
timely manner. While it is true that in the grievance
that generated the Provost's letter, the Provost waived
the thirty day limit, in general the Provost has no
obligation to do so -- and usually does not.
There is one related problem. Suppose
an employee gets their evaluation and it contains
factual errors or some other weirdness. What should
the employee do? The old principle of law is that
silence betokens consent. So an employee does not
want to consent to an evaluation, what should the
First of all, by 10.3 A (1), an employee has the
right to consult with their supervisor about the
evaluation during the evaluation process. Then when
the evaluation is presented, the employee should sign
the evaluation: the signature does NOT betoken consent;
it merely says that the employee has looked at it. The
employee gets a copy of the evaluation. The employee
has the right to respond (in writing, in comments to be
attached to the evaluation in the employee's personnel
file) to the evaluation. The employee also has the
right to speak to the supervisor's supervisor about
the evaluation. And as usual, worried employees are
encouraged to contact the union: our Grievance
Chair, Mark Klisch, can be reached at
. Finally, if the employee
wishes to file a grievance, the thirty day deadline
holds here as well.
In conclusion, it would be a good idea to read Article
10. Notice that 10.1 (A) says that the annual
evaluations are not to be the only basis for personnel
decisions. Notice that 10.3 (A) says that if an
employee is found deficient, the employee's supervisor
shall assist the employee in addressing the deficiency.
Notice that 10.3 (B) (2) says that Sustained Performance
Evaluations (the every-seven-year post-tenure review)
is based solely on the contents of the employee's
personnel file. But you can't defend your rights if
you don't know what they are.
March 31, 2005
Academic Bill of Rights
There have always been tensions between teachers and
students, and usually governments let parents and
local administrations worry about this. Historically,
government involvement in teacher-student relations is
not very positive (witness the tendency of newer
repressive regimes to use students to spy on teachers,
and the tendency of older repressive regimes to rely
on teachers to indoctrinate students). In liberal
democracies, government intrusion in teacher-student
relations are often media stunts: they're not really
so much to solve a problem (and sometimes it's not
clear what the problem is, anyway) as to create
photo-ops for the studiedly outraged politicians.
Florida is the latest stop of a campaign of
many media stunts, led by David Horowitz, editor of
Front Page magazine,
and director of the
Center for the Study of Popular
Culture. (He is also one of the
which is perhaps the pre-eminent...agency...for
"conservative" pundits.) While his political
biography follows a stereotypic "neo-conservative"
trajectory -- he was a leftist in the 1960s and 1970s,
and edited Ramparts magazine -- he rejects the label
Indeed, unlike most "neo-conservatives," he
spends little time rationalizing the application of
force in politics and diplomacy, and instead poses as
a spokesman for marginalized groups against a leftist
academic establishment. His National Campaign to
Take Back our Campuses (whose motivational work is a
Political Bias in America's
includes an organization called
Students for Academic
notice that the SAF makes little pretense of being
a student-run organization), which has been pushing
Academic Bill of Rights,
which the National Campaign has been hawking to state
legislatures across the country.
One of the state legislatures that bit was ours:
has presented the Academic Bill of Rights to the
House; the bill was modified and retitled
Faculty Academic Freedom in Postsecondary Education
According to the University of Florida Independent
Alligator, Baxley said that the bill was aimed at
professors who "misuse ... their platform to
indoctrinate the next generation with their own views,"
giving as an example, "Some professors say, ‘Evolution
is a fact. I don’t want to hear about Intelligent
Design [a creationist theory], and if you don’t like
it, there’s the door.'"
There are several possible reactions, the most
straightforward being to respond to Baxley's (and
Horowitz's) public rationales. Representative
Dan Gelber did this when (as the Alligator reported)
Gelber warned that this act would enable a student
to sue a professor who insisted that the Third
Reich's Holocaust actually occurred. Similarly, the
American Association of University Professors issued
that somewhat laboriously makes the following points:
Ever since the Museum of Alexandria was destroyed by
religious fanatics, academic institutions have been
pressured by politicians to not to teach unpopular
things. The modern version of Academic Freedom arose
in Seventeenth and Eighteenth century Germany, whose
universities struggled against the dictates of the
local magnates. There were famous episodes, the most
telling being the University of Jena's dismissal of
Gottlob Fichte, which led to an unstoppable
hemorrhage of top scholars, many to Berlin, where
modern Akademische Freiheit (with the "Freedom to
Teach" and the "Freedom to Learn") burst into the
world. If biology professors are required to
teach folklore, and then give As for sloppy reports
on folklore, all in order to keep from being sued,
then good biology professors will leave Florida.
(The good folklorists will probably leave, too.)
- Students are often graded not on the content of
their arguments, but on their form. (Even in
the natural sciences, a lot of the grade relies
not on whether the answer was correct, but on
how the student reached the answer.) This bill
might allow a student to challenge a low grade
given to poor work on the grounds that the
conclusion presented differs from the teacher's
- The rationale for the law calls for a diversity
of opinion, but since the diversity is usually
infinite, it invites the courts to come and
decide which of the diverse array of opinions is
reasonable. For example, following Baxley's
Darwin-versus-Genesis example, a court would have
to worry about other options, like Hesiod's
Greek Theogony (which, unlike Genesis, actually
is connected to paleontological work in
Antiquity), pre-Darwinian scientific models like
catastrophism and polycreationism, and of course
the insistence of many native Americans that
their ancestors did not cross from Asia.
Of course, this all assumes that this is not
some media stunt aimed at the 2006 elections. The
text of the bill itself suggests a certain lack of
seriousness (again, see
the on-line version).
The bill is 173 lines long, just over six pages,
with a 9-line title and then 90 lines of whereases
("Whereas the following old liberal institution
once issued a statement containing the following
words...") and then eight statements that students
or faculty have "a right to expect" this or that.
A right to "expect" something is not a right to
something, so these statements could be dismissed
as pure weasel, unless some silly judge decided
to construe something out of them.
Most striking is Section 2 (1), which says
that students have a right to expect a "broad
range of serious scholarly opinion" (no snorting,
please!) in humanities, the social sciences, and
the arts. So are biologists are off the hook,
after all? No: Section 2 (2) says that students
have a right to expect that they will not be
"discriminated against" based on their religious
beliefs; this being America, where religions are
legion, biologists should bone up on the Theogony
Still, it is not clear how these clauses
are to be enforced, assuming that the Legislature
gives a hoot about enforcement, and the courts
might well refuse to hear cases on them.
That leaves two clauses, one saying that
students have a right to an ideologically diverse,
value-neutral learning environment (and disbursal
of student fee funds), and the other one saying
that institutions should promulgate and publicize
grievance procedures. The second clause may be
an unconstitutional (in Florida) invasion of the
Board of Governors' prerogatives, but otherwise
we're promulgating and publicizing already. It
is the first clause that is Pandora's box.
The first clause actually gives students a
"right," which may mean that students can sue to
get this right. Students can sue if they can
convince a court that they were graded in part on
their "political or religious beliefs." Would
the court care to distinguish protected political
or religious beliefs from unprotected cultural or
personal beliefs? Considering the number of
unhappy recipients of low grades there are, would
the court care to clutter its docket with a new
avalanche of tort cases? If the courts have the
courage for it, they will simply declare the act
unconstitutional (both Floridian and Federal, the
latter because whether the judge is a liberal who
believes professors have academic freedom rights
or a conservative who believes that institutions
do, this law encroaches on both). If the courts
lack the courage, they might just rule that the
academic institutions are the arbiters of what is
acceptable grading in the hope that that makes
the mess go away. (It would make THIS mess go
away, but it would also encourage more such media
The Florida Education Association, with
which the UFF is affiliated, is fighting the bill.
FEA’s Higher Education Director -- our own USF
Chapter President President Roy Weatherford --
is working with the national staff of the American
Federation of Teachers, the National Education
Association, and the AAUP to prepare testimony
that will be presented during legislative
committee meetings on the bill. We can only hope
that the Legislature has some shame, after all.
Addendum added April 6:
On April 5, USF UFF President Roy Weatherford
debated Dennis Baxley, and he subsequently sent
us this message:
** Academic Bill of Rights Debate on "Democracy Now" **
Today I taped a segment of “Democracy Now” wherein I debated
Rep. Dennis Baxley, chair of the Education Council of the
Florida House of Representatives and sponsor of HB 837, "The
Student and Faculty Academic Bill of Rights”, which is in
fact another devious right wing name for an attack on
This is the substance of a message I sent today to various
higher education leaders and organizations around the
nation who are concerned with this threat to academic
freedom. The response has been so uniformly positive that
I thought I would forward it to our USF constituency and
thank the UFF members at USF who make it possible for me to
do this kind of work defending academic freedom.
The taping went fairly well. It will be broadcast at lots
of different times in lots of different markets, mostly PBS,
Pacifica, and independent listener supported radio and TV
stations but also a couple of satellite systems including,
I think, the Dish network.
Here’s the link to the web page on which you can listen to
or view the segment and check to see if and how it is
broadcast in your area. I expect the link will only be
active for a short while. Go to
During the debate I made a point of mentioning that I was
speaking for the Florida Education Association primarily but
also represented the views of all three national higher
education faculty organizations: The American Federation of
Teachers (AFT), The National Education Association (NEA),
and the American Association of University Professors (AAUP),
speaking together with one voice for the first time and
united in our opposition to this bill. Amy Goodman seemed
particularly impressed by that and asked me about it after
we finished taping. She took my card and said they might
be following up on this.
Democracy Now airs locally (Tampa Bay area) at noon on
Readers may recall that summer school salary was
one of the most contentious issues in bargaining.
It has been contentious ever since, long ago,
UFF won in bargaining a contractual clause
(see 8.4 B (3) of the
collective bargaining agreement)
stating that faculty teaching during summer are
to be compensated at the same rate as during the
year. Eliminating this clause was one of the
Administration's priorities in the reorganization,
and the UFF and the Faculty Senate are justly
proud that the clause is not only in the new
contract, but also in the new personnel rules.
The Administration is toying with a way to
weasel out of it. The trick is that a preceding
clause (8.4 B (1)) says that "available" summer
positions will be offered to in-unit faculty.
The Council of Deans thinks that"available" means
after assignments have been made to adjuncts and
graduate assistants, or carved up as team teaching
assignments. This from a memo from the Dean of
Education, which says that the Council of Deans
composed a list of Criteria for Supplemental
Summer Assignments. (The language curmudgeon
grumbles that the list is of directives and
recommendations, but not criteria.) Item (3) is:
"Departments are encouraged to use creative ways
to distribute limited summer funds. Examples
include but are not limited to: team teaching
and judicious use of adjunct faculty and
graduate assistants." Hopefully this directive
is subordinate to the spirit of (1): "...
Departments should prioritize their course
offerings based on student needs."
At first glance, this directive or
recommendation seems like a pragmatic response
to limited funds. But this is part of a
pattern of priorities. Just last week the
Board of Governors met at USF and issued
directives that we will...produce...so many
teachers, so many nurses, so many this, so
many that, as if issuing directives makes it
so. This is a Master's Program, by a
directive of the Board; that is an accredited
campus, by a directive of the Board; USF is a
Research I university, by a majority vote.
The Board allocates the funding its experts
recommend (without any faculty input at all)
and this makes it so.
This is more than just a circumvention of
the contract, bad as that is. It is also
another nickle-and-dime compromise on the road
that will in the end reduce USF to little more
than an overglorified community college. And
we are sorry to see that the Administration is
trying to make this compromise quietly, rather
than publicly presenting it to the Board, and
to the press, as an example of what USF is
being reduced to, and will be reduced to,
unless the Board and the Legislature reverse
April 14, 2005
Summer Assignment Alert
If you did not get assigned a summer course that you
were willing and qualified to teach, your contractual
rights might have been violated.
A few weeks ago the central administration issued a
memo to the colleges directing them to publish some
criteria for summer school teaching assignments.
March 31 article for more information.
- All efforts must be made to preserve enrollment.
Departments should prioritize their course
offerings based on student needs.
- Reasonable efforts should be made to balance the
offerings of large sections and courses needed
to graduate in Summer 2005.
- Departments are encouraged to use creative ways
to distribute limited summer funds. Examples
include but are not limited to: team teaching
and judicious use of adjunct faculty and
- In those units where the number of faculty
desiring to teach summer courses exceeds
resources, faculty will be limited to teaching
one course except in extenuating circumstances
(would require approval by the dean). This
limitation does not apply to assignment to
- All 12-month faculty and administrators with
academic rank are encouraged to teach a course
in Summer 2005, if possible.
The union responded by filing a chapter grievance
alleging that the administration had injured the
chapter by directing USF’s lower management to
violate the provisions of the new collective
bargaining agreement, which says that “Available
supplemental summer appointments shall be offered
equitably and as appropriate to qualified employees
('employees' means "bargaining unit faculty").
The administration promptly scheduled a meeting to
discuss the grievance. Associate Provost Phil Smith
told our grievance chair, Mark Klisch, that the
grievance had no merit because if anyone were injured
by this action it would be individual faculty, not
the union. Nevertheless, he said that it was not the
intention of the administration to deprive faculty of
summer teaching assignments. He offered to send a
memo to the Academic Deans and Directors clarifying
the university’s position.
Meanwhile the Faculty Senate had been independently
pursuing the issue. Thus the second memo says:
The memo goes on to say that “priority in summer
assignment should be given to regular 9-month faculty”
and faculty should not be limited to a one course
Both the faculty union (UFF) and the Faculty
Senate have raised concerns that the referenced
criteria could be interpreted as encouraging
those making summer teaching assignments to rely
heavily on adjuncts and graduate teaching
assistants to deliver the summer instructional
program to the detriment of regular 9-month
faculty. Such is not the intention of the
referenced criteria promulgated as part of the
February 28th memorandum.
But then in the final paragraph it says that the
original criteria should be posted in each
We believe it is clear that each department should
first offer scheduled courses to regular faculty
before any alternative instructors are involved.
If your department is not following this standard,
the individual faculty who do not receive the
opportunity to teach are entitled to immediately file
grievances. Mark Klisch cannot investigate the
practices of every department himself – he needs
the rest of us to check and see if our departments
are not giving priority to our faculty. Then he
can process the grievances that are the practical
means to seek redress.
Remember, the union is not a bunch of outsiders
getting paid to conduct investigations, it is
just us, working together to protect our individual
and collective rights.
The 'Academic Freedom' Bill
As mentioned in the last Biweekly, Florida
Assemblymen Dennis Baxley said that he was
dismayed by the exclusion of creationism from
college biology, and introduced a "Student and
Faculty Academic Freedom in Postsecondary
Education Act" (from a template provided by a
think tank in Los Angeles; see
last week's article).
As mentioned two weeks ago, the bill enumerates
various things (balanced presentation of
controversial topics in class, equitable
distribution of activities fees, etc.) that
students and (junior?) faculty have a "right to
expect." No one really knows what this language
means, so there is the danger that one court could
construe it to be meaningless while another could
construe it to mean that people can sue if their
expectations were not met.
It was this latter concern that led the
Department of Education Legislative Analyst to
project that passage of this bill would require
that the State University System spend an
additional $ 4.2 million per year on new legal
staff. (See the
House analyst report.)
And it is this latter concern that moved UFF, and
our national affiliates, and other organizations
like the AAUP, to condemn the bill. The UFF
The union has been very active opposing the bill.
Speaking on behalf of the union, UFF President Tom
Auxter told a Legislative committee (during the
unbalancedly brief time that they granted him) that
the bill will seriously damage our ability to
recruit first-rate faculty to Florida. Then UFF
USF President Roy Weatherford debated Representative
Baxley on the nationally televised “Democracy Now”
program. Speaking as Higher Education Director of
the Florida Education Association and as the
designated spokesperson for our affiliates, the
American Federation of Teachers and the National
Education Association and for the American
Association of University Professors, Weatherford
said that we especially object to three provisions
of the bill. First, it "specifies that faculty
may not introduce controversial subjects when
they're inappropriate, but it provides no mechanism
or means for determining who gets to say what is
'controversial.' Somebody, evidently, will have
the right to tell us what we cannot say in our
classroom..." Second, that the bill "says that
students have the right to expect that alternative
views will be presented," and noting that Baxley
had mentioned the exclusion of creationism from
biology classes, Weatherford asked whether the
quasi-Marxist theory called "Lysenkoism" also
should be presented in class (Baxley then claimed
he had not really meant that creationism should be
taught in biology classes -- it is not clear then
what he had meant). Finally, Weatherford noted
the $ 4.2 million price tag, which Baxley called
a drop in the bucket compared to other "diversity"
measures universities take. The exchange is
Whereas, House Bill 837/Senate Bill 2126
would interfere in student-professor relations,
infringe on academic freedom, place Florida at
a competitive economic disadvantage attracting
and retaining the best faculty, compromise the
educational experience of the student, and
violate democratic rights guaranteed by the
Florida and U.S. constitutions,
the United Faculty of Florida opposes House
Bill 837/Senate Bill 2126.
Media reaction to the bill seems somewhat
negative. On March 16, the Palm Beach Post warned
that in a more left-wing climate, such law could
backfire on Baxley's allies, and on March 23, the
Post recommended that Baxley read Orwell's "1984."
On April 7, the St Petersburg Times editorialized
that the good news was the Bush himself opposed the
bill, while columnist Howard Troxler saw the
problem as a confusion of critique with attack: "We
live in an age when nobody needs any facts. In this
modern day, you can believe any old thing you want,
and if the facts get in the way, ignore 'em." USF
Chapter Treasurer and Professor of Psychological
and Social Foundations Sherman Dorn wrote in the
April 8 Palm Beach Post and the April 11 Lakeland
Ledger that this was another example of Legislative
meddling in the universities: "The 2000 Legislature
dismantled the Board of Regents when it refused to
approve a new program that then-House Speaker John
Thrasher wanted for his alma mater. And last year,
the Legislature made Florida a national
laughingstock by trying to force a chiropractic
school on Florida State in disregard of faculty
judgment." On April 10, the Gainesville Sun
reported that Baxley said of the lack of any
enforcement mechanism in his bill that the bill is
"a lofty guidance tool of philosophy ... There is
no causative action." Student newspapers have also
weighed in, as noted in -- faculty concerned about
Florida's reputation take note -- Nature, in which
an article dated April 6 (see the April 7 issue)
and entitled "Professors bristle as states act to
mould lecture content" quotes Baxley complaining
that, "I've been called an ass in the school
newspaper at the University of Florida ... and that
demonstrates exactly what I am talking about."
It is not at all clear to this webmaster what
Baxley's bill would do about a student newspaper
that called a politician names.
Anyway, on April 11, Tom Auxter sent a
letter to the faculty. The bill is still
winding its way through committees.
April 28, 2005
Mr. Baxley and Academic Freedom
Florida Assemblyman Dennis Baxley's bill on "Student
and Faculty Academic Freedom in Postsecondary
Education," designed to protect "conservative"
students from "liberal" professors, seems stalled
and observers optimistically predict its demise.
But of course, anything can happen while the
Legislature is still in session. The obstacle
appears to be the Senate's skepticism about the
Senate Analyst's report
contains many concerns, including a Socratic lament
about the bill's failure to define its terms.
This is an update on the bill: see the
previous episodes in the
March 31 Biweekly
April 14 Biweekly.
Baxley sounded resigned to the bill's death,
admitting that "it might be on life support" and
announcing that he thought he had made his point,
and that he had initiated something that would
lead to positive results. He met with the
university presidents who, according to press
reports, were unconvinced that there was a problem
to address. Baxley's chief piece of evidence was
a student newspaper cartoon of Baxley; it is not
clear if Baxley invisions a student's academic
freedom as extending to making fun of Florida
Legislators. (The cartoon is
Meanwhile, the bill was just condemned by
Florida Association of Community Colleges.
You can follow the bill's progress on its
Again, this is just the Florida part of a
national campaign, pushed by an arm of David
Horowitz's Center for the Study of Popular
Culture: this arm, called Students for
Academic Freedom, calls for students to report
biased teachers via an
Meanwhile, one of our affiliates, the American
Federation of Teachers, had its annual Higher
Education Conference, which devoted a lot of
time to planning to fight the national campaign
that is pushing these bills: see
a brief account of the meeting.
It is not clear what the goals of this campaign
is. It could be an attempt to eviscerate the
Academy. It could be a cynical campaign of media
stunts designed to generate excitement and
donations. This campaign involves many
interests, who may have a variety of motives. The
current bill may indeed be dead (although the
coroner hasn't signed off on it), but the campaign
isn't going away.
The Old Contract
Readers may remember that in February, the First
District Court of Florida ruled that the terms and
conditions of the 2001-2003 contract were still in
force after the contract expired (see
the February 17 Biweekly).
This is what the UFF had been contending (and the
Administrations denying) all along. Technically,
the adversaries are UFF and the staff union AFSCME
versus the Public Employee Relations Commission
(PERC, the state's labor agency for public
employees, whose commissioners have all been
appointed by Governor Bush) and, hiding behind PERC,
the UF, UWF and FSU Administrations.
Since February, FSU and UWF appealed, the
appeal was denied, and the last avenue for them is
an appeal to the State Supreme Court, which UFF's
legal advisors regard as last ditchery. The
results of the current rulings are: the terms and
conditions of the contract were in force since
January 7, 2003, so that all administrations that
violated those terms and conditions (at behest of
scofflaw boards of trustees) are now in a legally
awkward position. Meanwhile, those universities
that have not bargained a new contract still have
the terms and conditions of the old one (USF has
a new contract, so our relations with our
Administration and Board are governed by our new
Ultimately, this ruling's greatest effect
may be to prevent similar stunts in the future:
an employer cannot get rid of a union or a
contract by reorganizing. USF Professor
Surrendra Singh, who is UFF's chief grievance
officer, called this the biggest contract
enforcement decision of our lifetimes. And its
effects will reach across the nation, and
to all unionized employees.
More on this in the upcoming Uncommon Sense
Our ability to function effectively depends a lot
on membership. Support is nice, and useful, but
membership means clout, energy, and, to be blunt,
funding. During the last year, our affiliates --
the Florida Education Association, the American
Federation of Teachers, and the National Education
Association -- have provided us with resources
that we had to use to win certification elections
in UWF and FSU, and to deal with the UF
Administration's dilatory tactics in preparing for
a certification election there (a certification
election is when the faculty vote on whether or not
to be represented by a union). Now that it looks
like the courts have put an end to the
certification fight (which we also had been
winning, but which was very expensive and time
consuming), we can turn to getting more members.
So we have asked our affiliates for support for
Over the last year, we have received more
money from the affiliates than we recieved in dues
from members. That is one thing affiliates are
for: to provide support for locals in trouble, for
every local eventually faces its own Jeb Bush one
day, and it is not a battle one wants to enter
In many ways, USF serves as an example of how to
get things done. Most other universities are
still bargaining, and we were asked for advice.
Our Chief Negotiator, Bob Welker, presented the
old school approaches to bargaining: have one
person with authority responsible for bargaining,
find out what faculty want and use that
information, but remembering that this is like
poker, be careful about sharing information. He
recommended a very diverse bargaining team, so
that there would be people on the team aware of
all the different needs and circumstances of
faculty across campus (including unranked faculty
from instructors to various professionals).
Bargaining is mostly preparation and, as the old
man said, one must know when to hold, and know
when to fold.
FAU and UCF also have contracts. New
College has just tentatively agreed to a new
contract (congratulations!) while FSU, UNF, and
UWF are making substantial progress (no word from
FGCU). Interestingly, the different campuses
are developing different contracts, probably
reflecting different concerns.
Three universities have problems.
FAMU seems to be making progress bargaining,
but the administration is behaving very strangely.
As newspapers have reported, the administration's
record-keeping is deficient, the books are not
in order, and no one knows what FAMU's current
finances actually are. (This may be one reason
why the administration team offered a 0 % raise,
while granting the former president one year's
leave, for a quarter of a million dollars.) The
administration conducted a physical audit,
including an audit of the payroll, and ordered
all 1800 or so employees to pick up pay checks or
stubs during a two-day period, and to show ID
(federally recognized ID: campus ID wouldn't do).
Failure would result in disciplinary action, up to
and including dismissal. The result was a long
line...in the rain.
FIU has made little progress. The
administration proposes tearing out about half the
text of the old contract, and putting that into
personnel rules (subject to unilateral change by
the administration). The administration proposed
a temporary three-year (oxymoron alert!)
Memorandum of Understanding on salaries to serve
in the stead of an absent contract; apparently
the administration does not anticipate a contract
within the next three years (they'll have one now,
like it or not, if the above court rulings stand).
Faculty have descended on the board twice, for
quiet demonstrations like the one USF faculty
held at the August, 2004 Board of Trustees meeting.
The FIU representatives speculated on what the
Board was up to, assuming that the board wasn't
UF's board has refused to recognize the
union, and so UFF collected signatures to force a
certification election: faculty within the
bargaining unit would vote on whether they wanted
to be represented by UFF. Since then (two years)
the administration has fended off the election,
and one of its most potent ploys has been to
demand that the bargaining unit be changed, so
that faculty who were not represented by UFF in
the past be included in voting on whether to be
represented by UFF now. (Since UFF has won over
90 % of the votes in the two preceding elections,
and since the administration's own survey of
faculty show a strong faculty disgust with the
administration, the administration may be
optimistic in assuming that historically
unrepresented faculty would vote against
representation. But there are legalities and
ethics involved here, which makes things very
complicated.) But if the court ruling stands,
the battle is over: the administration must
recognize UFF as representing the faculty in
the old bargaining unit -- and deal with the
numerous contractual violations the administration
Hopefully, most campuses will have new
contracts within months, so we can direct more
attention to membership. As for those that do
not, we may find ourselves back in court. Some
people really should not serve on boards of
The community colleges have been dealing with
mandatory drug testing and fingerprinting. No
doubt this recurrent issue will be coming our way
The Graduate Assistants' Union is putting a
lot of effort into health insurance. (Thesis
directors: what sort of health insurance do your
students have? Yes, this is a problem that can
affect not only the student, but the professor
whose research program involves the student...).
The universities are increasingly relying on
adjuncts. The result is a lot of adjuncts, with no
job security, no benefits, and poor work conditions.
(There is also the credential problem, but that's
for the accreditation agencies to chew on.) And
not just adjuncts: about half of all new hires to
"permanent" positions are non-tenure-track. Since
tenure was originally designed to protect academic
freedom in the classroom (!), this raises some
serious problems...like the future of tenure itself.
UFF decided to study the problem further; both
our national affiliates have decided that if
universities are going to hire vast numbers of
adjuncts, the affiliates will try to unionize
them. At least, this effort might help slow the
drift towards the Walmart-ization of American
UFF has had a problematic relationship with
Sami al-Arian. He originally got in trouble for
incendiary speech, and both the speech and the
trouble worried many at USF. His dismissals
(plural) were of dubious legality, which worried
UFF, as any union is necessarily a creature of
law. Our history with him makes the spectacle
unfolding in downtown Tampa painful. Our members
have a variety of views about him, and UFF itself
takes no position on his speech and activities
(real and alleged), but we do believe that not
only he but the country deserves a proper trial.
At the April 1 meeting of the USF Chapter
Meeting, the USF Chapter of the UFF resolved to
express its concern about the current legal
proceedings and call for a fair trial even if
that meant moving the trial to another state,
to send a silent representative to the opening
of formal proceedings, and to make a similar
motion at the UFF Senate; for more on the
Chapter's actions, see the Minutes for April 1
at . On
April 3, the UFF Senate was dismayed by accounts
(which have been reported in the mainstream press)
of how al-Arian had spent 23 hours a day in a
windowless 6' x 9' cell, how he was prevented
from reviewing evidence on his case, and so on.
Whether or not he is guilty, we should expect
the corrections departments behave in a
responsible and professional manner. (We expect
the same of the officers of the court!) And so
the Senate decided to send a silent
representative to the opening of legal
proceedings, and made the following statement:
"The United States of America is and must be
a nation of laws, and the legal process must
be serious, rational and equitable. So we are
dismayed by the treatment of the defendant
during his incarceration.
A denial of due process to anyone is a
threat to us all. And so for the sake of the
rule of law and the protection of American
rights and liberties, we call for a full and
fair trial of the case of Sami al-Arian, even
if that entails moving the trial to a