Of Bargaining and Emails
On Friday, February 23, the UFF Bargaining Team
issued a press release on the bargaining situation.
This was an unusual step, for UFF typically follows
the traditional approach of bargaining quietly.
But the relevant word here was "bargaining," and
after several months of attempting to bargain with
an Administration that refuses to make
counter-proposals on -- or even to discuss --
major items, the UFF Bargaining Team decided that
the best step to take (with the ultimate goal
being getting good language in the 2006 (!)
contract negotiations) was to send out the
February 23 release.
The Administration's initial response was to
have their bargaining team broadcast a letter, with
the sequence of events described in the
March 6 USF Oracle article.
Very roughly, some poor administrator broadcast
the wrong file, so that broadcast was recalled.
But unlike the usual sort of recall, this one went
through mail folders and deleted other emails
besides the recalled one. This generated many
faculty complaints, explanations by administrators,
and smugness by colleagues who do not rely on
MicroSoft and thus did not lose any mail.
The Chapter is going to review the situation
carefully, but two things are clear.
One is that the Administration does not take
annual evaluations -- the basis of merit raises
-- seriously. The current UFF proposal to deal
with compression / inversion is to raise very
longstanding faculty's salaries up to 80 % of the
national average for their rank and discipline
-- provided that their average rating over the last
six years was "strong." And yet, on March 2, the
USF Oracle quoted Vice Provost Dwayne Smith saying,
"The union believes that they deserve this raise
out of their length of service alone."
Second, we are reminded -- as we should always
be aware -- that the computers in our offices are
owned by the State of Florida. The emails we send
are subject to Florida's Sunshine and Public
Disclosure laws, and even our files are vulnerable:
the courts have been sympathetic to employers and
governments claiming the right to regulate the use
of computers that they own. Some employers use
software to record every keystroke (or, for less
comprehensive coverage, every website visited).
And employers who long claimed the right to the
contents of an employee's office and desk
(especially the employee's files) now claim the
right to an employee's computer files.
Meanwhile, returning to bargaining, there is a
good story on the bargaining situation in
The Long-Range Plan
On February 21, USF President Genshaft made a slide
presentation entitled "Shaping Our Future, 2007-12
-- Transforming Higher Education for Global
Innovation." It expressed a vision: "The
University of South Florida envisions itself as a
pre-eminent research university with state,
national, and global impact, and positioned for
membership in the Association of American
The presentation was apparently abstracted from
current draft of the plan.
It expresses arrays of desiderata in its mission
("USF is dedicated to excellence in ..."), values
("The University of South Florida values ..."), and
goals, from the general (USF "... will pursue its
rising stature as a research university ...") to the
specific (USF will "... position itself for
membership in the Association of American
The missions, values, and goals are largely
good ones. Excellent teaching, outstanding research,
shared governance, transparent accountability and
good communication, and of course, it would be nice
to get into the AAU. It was not clear how we were
to get where we want to go. Further, since much of
the success of the endeavor depends on the success
of faculty efforts, it was disconcerting to have
this plan handed down to us from on high, with the
implicit expectation that somehow we faculty would
make it all happen.
And so most of the reactions of senate members
was that (a) this did not seem to be so much a plan
as a set of goals, for which we need ... a plan,
and (b) that assuming that success is an evolutionary
process of building on past successes, and that
faculty know best what the past successes are and how
to build on them, it was strange that the report had
been composed by committees of administrators and
trustees with a sprinkling of token faculty.
President Genshaft and Provost Khator responded
by saying that this was but a draft of what would
become the over-arching plan: the planning process
would trickle down, with successively specific
refinements being composed at lower levels, until
departments could compose their own more precise
plans. At this point the question was asked: how
are departments supposed to deal with higher-level
plans? Are they supposed to adjust their own plans
in order to satisfy the hierarchy?
The articulation of the plans was not the only
major issue. Another was administration itself.
The Plan envisions using externally measurable
metrics generated by respectable organizations (like
the AAU). But many of the issues faculty worried
about were internal issues, largely administrative.
St. Petersburg is worried about libraries. One
questioner asked about academic freedom, and several
There was a lot of time devoted to
administration, and there seemed to be a lot of
sentiment that administrative problems are holding
USF back. President Genshaft admitted that USF was
experiencing growing pains. And indeed, when the
Senate moved further on the agenda, we saw two
examples of administrative problems:
It was remarked that a recent faculty survey showed
that faculty were concerned about the way we do
business, and that one of the sets of goals --
Goal IV on page 17 of the plan -- addressed largely
administrative goals, and taken more broadly,
administrative issues could be addressed in a plan.
- The Senate was very unhappy about the Code of
Conduct (see the previous article), and Provost
Khator said that (a) she had signed it herself
and (b) she had strongly advised against it but
(c) the Board had insisted on it. Faculty
worried that the Code would make it dangerous
to have grants, and thus discourage the pursuit
of external funding. (It was mentioned that
the other Florida universities don't have
this sort of code.) This is an example of the
danger of a Board that doesn't even listen to
administrators, much less faculty.
- The Graduate School seems to have created a
duplicative program in St. Petersburg without
even consulting the USF-Tampa department
overseeing the duplicated program. The
duplication will affect the internal affairs
of the Tampa department, which should have
been involved in the decision-making process.
And the mix-up occurred, as the Dean of the
Graduate School explained, because there are
really two Graduate Schools -- which have
One point was about time scale: if one wishes
to build a great university, one can do it as one
would grow an oak, by hiring increasingly strong
junior faculty to slowly build stronger departments,
all the while building up the infrastructure, so that
slowly and by degrees, one finds onesself in a great
university. Another approach is to hire a few stars
and launch a marketing campaign. There was some
concern that the Board seemed to be inclined towards
the latter course.
(On page 10, line 366, the plan lists as a goal
or strategy, "Establish a salary enhancement program
that rewards highly productive faculty ..." The
three subgoals sound nice, but that "highly" sounds
a bit like yet another discretionary program for
boosting stars. One of USF's major problems is its
continued hemorraging of faculty who leave for other
institutions with, among other things, more rational
For anyone planning to be at USF for the
foreseeable future, the Long Range Plan is a serious
matter. Certainly if USF aspires to become a great
university, it would be advised to look at great
universities and look not only at their external
statistics (number of doctorates per year, number of
volumes in the library) but also how they do things.
Do they have university constitutions? At what
level is hiring done? Who makes what decisions?
And so on.
This is not the first time we have looked at
the plan: see the
November 16, 2006 article.
And the Administration wants comments: send them
to . But one thing
is for sure: there is more to being a great
university than being a member of any association,
even an association as distinguished as the
Association of American Universities.
The Employee Free Choice Act
"The maxim of preserving the balance of power,"
wrote David Hume in 1752, "is founded ... much on
common sense and obvious reasoning." Hume was
writing of international relations in general (and
Britain versus France in particular), but the maxim
applies throughout politics. For example, once
upon a time, it was conventional wisdom that there
was a balance of power between big business and big
labor, with big government holding the scales.
But that was long ago, when a third of all
American workers were union members. Membership is
now down to one-eighth, and we live in a tilting
economy. Unions (including UFF) are seeking new
members and new bargaining units, and the Employee
Free Choice Act, recently passed by the House and
now facing a possible Senate filibuster and
probable Presidential veto, is intended to
facilitate this effort.
But there is more to this proposed law than
the legislation. There is a tale of how economies
come to tilt.
Postwar union organizing occurred within the
framework of the Wagner Act (i.e., the
National Labor Relations Act)
and the Taft-Hartley Act (i.e., the
Labor-Management Relations Act).
Union organizers circulate a petition among some
coherent group of workers (e.g., among the workers
of one factory), and once 30 % of the workers have
signed, the National Labor Relations Board (or
some similar agency) oversees a "certification"
election by secret ballot on the question: Do the
workers in that group wish to be represented by
that union? If a majority of the votes cast are
in favor of union representation, then that group
of workers becomes a "bargaining unit," and the
union has the exclusive right to bargain and
enforce (i.e., pursue contractual grievances on)
the contract between those workers and their
We saw this at work a few years ago in USF,
but with a modern twist. The petition consisted
of cards that UFF asked members of the university
bargaining units to sign, and UFF persuaded a
majority of faculty to sign in each unit of each
university. Two university administrations
demanded certification elections, which UFF won at
better than ninety percent margins, at which point
all the other administrations (save Gainesville)
... voluntarily ... recognized UFF as the union.
Many of us were amazed by the spectacle, and what
many of us did not realize was the civility and
maturity of the administrations' behavior during
that entire period. Surprised by that last
sentence? Let's look at what has been happening
outside the ivory towers.
During the 1950s, when a third of all workers
were dues-paying union members, the probability
that a given pro-union worker would be fired during
a certification campaign -- i.e., during the period
between the appearance of the cards (the petition)
and the certification election -- varied from
one-tenth to one-fifth of one percent. During the
1960s, when union membership first started to
falter, the probability slowly rose, reaching a
height of 2.7 % in the early 1980s, by which time
the media was running obituaries on the union
movement and membership had fallen to about
one-fifth. (For more, see links at
American Rights at Work.)
Firing employees is usually the most
ferocious step employers take during these
campaigns, and the firing tends to be strategic:
a few dismissals of the most prominent pro-union
workers -- i.e., of those who are most actively
organizing -- will discourage the others. It is
difficult to define an "activist," but the
Center of Economics Policy Research estimated that
since 2000, about one-fifth of all union
"activists" involved in certification campaigns
were fired (see
the CEPR report).
Of course, employers do more than fire
activists. Tactics range from threatening to
close the facilities to spying on employees to
one-on-one meetings with employees, demanding
to know how they will vote. The postwar era
has seen changes in tactics, and nowadays an
employer facing a union campaign no longer
calls in the Pinkerton Agency. The call now
goes out to "union avoidance" experts who tout
their track records (most consultants claim a
90 % success rate and at least one offers a
money-back guarantee) in defeating unions in
certification elections. Many of these experts
aggressively market their product, and it is
now an industry amassing several hundred
million dollars a year.
Most consultants start with hard sell
activities. They create "employee 'vote no'
committees" and fancy brochures, and warn that
the factory will pack up and leave if the union
wins. If the consultant arrives before the
cards are filed, the consultant attacks the
integrity of the union by warning that union
organizers are coercing employees to sign cards,
that the names on the cards may be turned over
to management, and pressing employees to ask
for their cards back. If the petition is filed,
the consultant persuades management to withhold
information the union is legally entitled to,
presses supervisors to pressure employees to
vote against the union -- and to pressure
employees to join the "vote no" committee --
and call mandatory meetings where employees are
told that their jobs are on the line.
Primary targets include employees working
as union organizers: most campaigning is done
by active employees, for a union typically
will not try to organize a bargaining unit
unless invited -- by employees who show
sufficient determination to make it through a
major fight. A few strategic dismissals can
cripple a union campaign, and that is why the
unions pressed Congress into making it illegal
to simply fire activists. But as we noted
above, activists get fired. A lot. Other laws
against surveillance, interrogation, and
threats of dismissal also get broken, and
occasionally more entertaining violations like
racketeering or obstruction of justice occur.
It is all part of what Business Week once
called "one of the most successful anti-union
And where is the National Labor Relations
Board (or similar agencies) in the midst of all
this? Not in the midst of it. Labor-management
relations have long involved strife, and if the
NLRB is supposed to be the referee, it should
behave like one. Not that the laws that the
NLRB and similar agencies are supposed to
enforce have many teeth: a fired worker might
get reinstated, but there are few severe
consequences to systematic lawbreaking, and
consultants have been known to tell their
clients that laws are rarely enforced. The
most severe consequence is usually for the NLRB
to decide that the certification election was
tainted, and call a new one. But very often,
by that time, employees are very intimidated,
and the union loses.
The situation is so lawless that unions
adjusted their tactics to avoid certification
elections altogether. Starting in the 1960s,
unions got in the habit of getting cards from a
majority of the employees and then presenting
management with a choice: here is a majority
already, so recognize us or face a certification
election. More mature (or less panicked)
managers have come to see "voluntary
recognition" as the lesser of two evils.
("Voluntary recognition" is anathema to the
union avoidance industry, which strongly urges
management fight unions -- and to hire them for
the fight.) On the one hand, this shift in
tactics was successful: the current odds of a
pro-union employee being fired is down to 1.4 %
(still ten times that of the 1950s); on the
other hand, union membership continues to
decline. As Business Week might contend, the
unions are losing the war anyway.
What to do? The NLRB and related agencies
may be quasi-judicial in theory, but in practice
they have grown ferociously anti-union. Readers
may remember that in February, 2005, after
Florida's own Public Employee Relations
Commission (PERC) said it was okay for Jeb Bush
to get rid of UFF by reorganising the university
system, PERC was rebuked by the court, which
said, "PERC must itself comply with statutes it
administers...". If the agencies exercise their
discretion -- to the point of breaking the law
-- in order to slam unions, then one option
would be to ... strip the NLRB of its
Employee Free Choice Act.
The most controversial item was to require
employers to recognize the union if it collects
cards from a majority of the employees, thus
bypassing the certification election. It also
imposed time limits on bargaining a first
contract once the union is recognized (this is
because many managements -- does Allen Hall
come to mind? -- are a bit dilatory about
bargaining the first contract.) Less
controversial are teeth added to prohibitions
against, say, firing activists.
The AFL-CIO has pushed hard for this
legislation. AFL-CIO President John Sweeney
wrote that the survival of the middle class was
at stake (the AFL-CIO blog headline read
"Employee Free Choice Act Needed to Save Our
Middle Class"), and the
AFL-CIO posted an array of web-pages
calling on visitors to get involved.
There is a lot of opposition, especially
among business groups that call the act the
"Card Check Act." The U.S. Chamber of Commerce
has issued a "Grassroots Alert" for a "Virtual
March on Washington to Protect Worker Rights,"
and has organized a "Coalition For A Democratic
Workplace," which warns that "Worker Privacy is
Under Assault by Congress" (see
their page on the Act).
All this bleating irritated a Washington Post
columnist into writing that "A proposal to let
American workers decide in peace and quiet about
whether to join a union has provoked a torrent
of crocodile tears from corporate executives,"
and, "We don't hear companies calling for
secret-ballot votes on management decisions or
CEO stock options, or to elect worker
representatives to boards of directors. Bosses'
democratic impulses appear only when workers
want to exercise their right to organize."
Nevertheless, some people felt queasy about
circumventing certification elections, and had
strong feelings about the secret ballot.
Editorials read "House Democrats pass labor
measure that sacrifices democracy to unions" and
"Doing away with secret ballot elections in
organizing workers would give labor too much
power" and "Trying to nix secret ballots, open
debate are signs of organized labor's
The Grand Rapid Press may have had a point
about our "desperation," but not in the way the
Press meant. Union members get higher salaries
($ 833 per week average versus $ 642 per week
for full-time work in 2006, according to the
Bureau of Labor Statistics) in more equitable
(and rational) salary structures than non-members.
Union members are 62 % more likely to have health
care benefits and four times more likely to have
pensions. Many workers tell pollsters that they
would like a union, and the unions would be happy
to oblige. The problem is the ordeal of
certification, and it is an ordeal because of the
lawlessness that the NLRB and similar agencies
ignore. It would be different if the NLRB was
trying to enforce the laws: all unions would have
to do is ask Congress to put teeth in those laws.
It is a commentary on the credibility of the NLRB
and the Department of Labor that the first major
union initiative of a Democratic Congress is to
reduce the NLRB to bean counting -- on the theory
that hopefully they won't muck that up.
The outcome is uncertain. The bill has
passed the House, and is due to arrive at the
Senate. There are rumors of a filibuster, and
it is unclear whether there are sixty votes to
break a filibuster (Vice President Cheney is
likely to find virtues in filibustering now).
There seems to be a consensus that neither house
has the two thirds majority required to overcome
the promised presidential veto.
On the other hand, Mr. Dooley once observed
that "the Supreme Court follows the election
returns." Even if the bill isn't passed, it
would help if the NLRB followed the 2006
election returns. Or better yet, the law.
Changing of the Guard
On April 1, the newly elected chapter officers and
representatives took office, and that included our
new president, Sherman Dorn, an associate professor
of Psychological and Social Foundations in the
College of Education, concentrating on student drop
outs, and accountability. He maintains a site/blog
at , covering his
activities and contemporary trends in education.
Professor Dorn has been active in the union
for some time, serving as Treasurer and Membership
Chair for the chapter, and Vice President of the
SUS Bargaining Council for the state organization.
He has also served as USF Faculty Senator, FEA
Delegate, and on many committees at all levels.
He is succeeding one of the pre-eminent
figures in the history of the United Faculty of
Florida. Roy Weatherford is a professor of
philosophy, with particular interests in
epistemology, ethics, and the philosophy of science.
He has written three books, numerous articles, and
made many scholarly presentations, but it is his
service record that is most notable.
An army veteran, he has since served as
president of the Florida Philosophical Association
and vice president of the Florida AAUP, as acting
chair of the philosophy department and as chair of
an Institutional Advancement Committee in a SACS
re-accreditation review, as USF Faculty Senator and
on the Board of Directors of the Harvard Club of
the West Coast of Florida, and in many other
positions in addition to his service to UFF. His
work for UFF included serving as a director of the
Florida Teaching Professionals-NEA, member of the
Executive Board of the Florida Education
Association, member of the NEA Board of Directors,
Higher Education Director of the FEA, member of the
Executive Board of the Florida AFL-CIO, member of
the Executive Board of the West Central Florida
Labor Council, statewide President of the UFF, and
of course, USF Chapter President during a very
dangerous and difficult period.
And how are we doing? USF has one of the most
active chapters in the UFF (look at the results of
the latest statewide elections, above) and a
contract that is used as a model for the other
Roy is still an active member of UFF, and
intends to continue to work for us. We are
grateful for his service and support.
April 15, 2007 Extra
UFF-USF - USF Board of Trustees CBA 2006-2007
Vote on Your 2006-2007 Collective Bargaining Agreement at the union meeting on Friday, April 20, 2007, between noon and 1 pm, at Tampa campus in EDU 258 during the regular chapter meeting.
The United Faculty of Florida at USF and the USF Board of Trustees negotiators reached “tentative agreement” on the Salary Article and the Benefits Article of the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) on Friday, April 13, 2007. Additionally, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed that establishes a process to explore the development of a Paid Parental Leave program. All three of these items are posted on-line.
All faculty and professional employees in the bargaining unit are eligible to vote to accept or reject the new CBA. If you vote "yes" to ratify, the new Agreement provisions will take effect immediately. Promotion Increases will be retroactive to 8/7/06, Merit Increases will be retroactive to 10/1/06, and Market Adjustment Increases will be retroactive to 1/2/07. Competitive Pay Increases have already been distributed.
If you vote "no" to ratify, negotiators must return to the bargaining table to renegotiate an agreement which is satisfactory to you. The UFF bargaining team and executive officers urge you to vote “yes” on this new CBA. A large faculty vote will convey to the Board of Trustees that we, the faculty, are seriously interested in our professional futures.
Due to the protracted process of bargaining this contract, timeliness in ratification is important if employees are to receive the salary increases before the end of this spring 2007 semester. For this reason, all voting will take place at the next meeting of the UFF-USF Chapter, from noon to 1 p.m. on Friday, April 20, 2007 at Tampa campus EDU 258.
Much of our past Agreement has remained in place, and the complete text of the proposed changes to the Agreement is available on-line.
The proposed Agreement affects the terms and conditions of employment for Faculty, Librarians, and Other Bargaining Unit Members, and the Highlights are as follows:
- Competitive Pay Increase: this legislatively mandated 3.0% to base salary has already been distributed.
- Promotion Increases: remain the same as in previous contracts – all employees receiving a promotion receive a 9% increase to base salary. In addition, promotions to Assistant Prof./Librarian receive a $1,500 increase to base salary, promotions to Associate Prof./Librarian receive a $2,500 increase to base, and promotions to Professor/Librarian receive a $3,500 increase to base salary.
- Merit Increase: establishes a 1.4% salary pool of the entire in-unit salary base. Eligible employees are those evaluated Satisfactory (3.0 on 5-point scale) or above. It is distributed at department/unit level. The numerical score in each area of the employee’s assigned duty is multiplied by the assigned FTE to derive an overall raw score in each area of assignment. The raw scores are added together to determine the overall performance raw score of the employee. In each department/unit the performance scores are added for all eligible employees. The individual’s percentage of the department/unit’s total performance score is calculated by dividing the individual’s performance score by the department/unit’s total performance score points. Each eligible employee is awarded an amount equivalent to his/her percentage of the department/unit’s pool of money.
- Market Adjustment Increase (Compression-Inversion): establishes a 0.10% salary pool of the entire in-unit salary base. Eligible employees are those who have been employed at the University for 25 years or more as of 8/6/06, and whose performance over the last six annual evaluations averaged Strong (4.0) or better and whose base salary after the Competitive Pay Increase is less than 80% of the Research I OSU/ARL/other relevant national market salary data. The base salary of each eligible employee is adjusted to the amount that brings his/her 6/30/06 base salary plus the CPI to 80% of the average national market salary but not to exceed $10,000.
- Additional Salary Increase: the University and the union agreed USF will have the authority to provide an additional salary increase to individual faculty for situations including promotions, verified counteroffers, increased duties and responsibilities, extra compensation, special achievements and market equity, including compression and inversion.
- Effective Dates: Promotion Increase – 8/7/06; Competitive Pay Increase – 10/1/06; Merit Increase – 10/1/06; Market Adjustment Increase – 1/2/07.
DOMESTIC PARTNER HEALTH INSURANCE
- The UFF-USF and the University will each appoint three representatives to serve on a Domestic Partner Health Insurance Study Committee to investigate the availability of an insurance carrier to provide the insurance, the coverage options and cost and a non-state funding source to pay the employer’s premium contribution. The study committee shall issue a written report within four (4) months of the ratification of this Article.
- The UFF-USF and the University will establish a joint committee to develop a proposal for parental leave for faculty who become parents through birth or adoption of a pre-school child(ren). The proposal will seek input from the faculty and will examine issues including:
- Who and how many per household should be eligible at any given time?
- Duration of leave at any given time.
- How many times could a faculty member be eligible during employment at USF?
- Effect on tenure clock for pre-tenure faculty who take parental leave.
- Provide cost analysis and source of funding, including the use of sick leave and/or annual leave time.
- Service to the University of South Florida after parental leave or the consequences if faculty voluntarily does not return.
- The combined Pay Increases yield a 4.5% raise in base salary, depending on eligibility.
- Through the Market Adjustment Increase, the union has made significant progress in reducing the negative effects of salary compression and inversion for employees who have given 25 and more years of their careers to USF and whose evaluations reflect strong contributions to the mission of the University.
- The union proposed the establishment of two important benefits - Domestic Partner Health Care and Parental Leave - that have the potential to have a positive effect on the quality of working conditions, recruitment and retention at USF. These benefits are not yet resolved but the University has for the first time agreed to work with the union to form mechanisms for studying the issues and for making concrete proposals for establishing these benefits at USF.
- The union proposed that an employee could assign his/her two free courses per semester to a spouse or child. An agreement was not reached but your union will continue to pursue this benefit in the next round of bargaining.
A Medley of Latest Hits
Andy Warhol said that some day, each person would be
famous for fifteen minutes. And thanks to the
World Wide Web, it's coming true. Just a few days
ago, Montana's House Majority Leader stormed out of
a conference with the governor and snarled that the
governor could "go straight to hell." As of April
29, two days after the snarl, the video on
Youtube.com had been played 22,844 times, and AP
sent the story nationwide.
This is part of the job: anyone who goes on
display can expect this sort of thing. But we
faculty should remember that we go on display
several times a week. And nowadays, the nearest
audio-visual recording device is as close as a
student's cell phone.
Speaking of cell phones, the top rated video
under "professor" in
Youtube.com was 36 seconds of
an "angry professor" confiscating and hurling a
ringing cell phone to the floor: after a year,
there are 2,884,406 views (yes, as in nearly THREE
MILLION) and 6,911 comments, ranging from the
initial "This was at my school, to my friend Joel's
cell phone. He was so scared I thought he'd piss
his pants" to "Those Damn teachers get way too
worked up about cell phones in class. I dont own a
cell phone, but if the kid misses anything anyway
its his problem. But from what it sounds like, the
teacher was not talking about anything importat
any" to "I don't care if he misses anything. He was
disrupting other kids in class, who were all paying
upwards of 6 grand for tuition" to "It's staged.
The cameraman had no reason to focus away from the
teacher on the student and there was NO reaction
from the class at all. No even heads flying back"
to a very strange thread about dolphins.
Critical theorists will be delighted to know
that this video actually was staged by a
professional advertizer (and we should remember
that while the camera doesn't lie, it shows only
what it's pointed at, beginning when the ON button
was pushed and ending when the OFF button was
pushed -- and beyond that lies the business of
editing). But anyway, Youtube.com, with its
27,800 videos listed under "professor" is only one
of many venues which could be displaying your
classroom technique in the near future. So here
are some legalities and some practicalities.
First of all, you do not have an "expectation
of privacy" in a classroom: it's a classroom, after
all, and what goes on in a classroom is a standard
topic of conversation. On the other hand, you do
have the right to restrict the use of recording
equipment. This right has been around for a while:
it is unlawful to sneak an audio recorder into your
classroom, transcribe the lecture into notes, and
then sell them. (In fact, it is illegal to take
sets of lecture notes and sell them in toto,
although students may quote selections to outraged
parents and politicians.) On the other hand, this
right is not absolute: if a student is hearing or
visually impaired, they have the right to
technological assistance for following your lecture,
and this may include recording equipment.
We saw the result of the legal situation at
USF when the Recording Industry Association of
America descended with 490 complaints about alleged
illegal music downloads. It seems that many
students are not fully cognizant of laws that are
so easy to violate with new devices. Perhaps the
RIAA is dealing with the situation with unbecoming
ferocity, but the RIAA is dealing with a real
And that brings us to the practical side.
There were 1,430 videos posted under "usf" (lots of
sports and music, of course), so we can expect that
some indiscrete videos will appear. This brings us
to the usual two points.
AN OUNCE OF PREVENTION. We often forget that
a syllabus is a legal document; it wouldn't hurt
to remind students of this at the beginning of
classes. And so we recommend that all instructors
add the following to their syllabi for summer
classes: "All unauthorized recordings of class
are prohibited. Recordings that accommodate
individual student needs must be approved in
advance and may be used for personal use during
the semester only; redistribution is prohibited."
And students should know that common courtesy
forbids taking pictures -- or videos -- without
A POUND OF CURE. While many administrators
react to crises with a great show of energy, the
wisest course is often to do nothing. If pressed,
an administrator can make an expression of sober,
sincere concern modified by an open-mindedness to
reasonable points of view. But with nearly thirty
thousand videos posted on "professor" and over a
thousand on "usf", it is unlikely that posting
a video of a USF faculty member will pose a
serious problem (while an extreme reaction to such
a posting just might make a university look
ridiculous). The same may go for professors as
well. If you see yourself on Youtube.com, well,
considering the cartoons that students have been
carving on desks for the last thousand years, it's
just part of the job.
And by the way, have you ever visited
The finances are not hard to fathom. Suppose
that a university computes a full-time teaching
load to be four courses a semester, or eight
courses a year: thus a professor earning $ 60,000
per year is being paid $ 7,500 per course taught.
An adjunct paid a third that amount would be a
major saving, above and beyond money saved by not
paying benefits or for classroom support (like
From an adjunct's point of view, the finances
are not difficult to fathom, either. If one can
get temporary jobs at a few nearby colleges and
universities, one could conceivably teach as many
as six courses a semester -- and perhaps four in
summer -- for perhaps $ 40,000 altogether. On the
other hand, for a retiree or an employee of some
company (or even a faculty member of another college
or university!), teaching a course or two each term
could bring a welcome bit of extra income.
As a full-time job, being an adjunct can be
quite difficult: eighteen contact hours a week is
emotionally demanding, as would be the trips from
college to college if one is (as one often is)
teaching at several places. Then there is the
problem of having no office. On top of this, some
adjuncts find that they are invisible to regular
faculty. Finally, there is the matter of not being
certain of a semester's assignment until 5 pm on
the Friday of the first week of classes.
There is a growing concern about the effect of
this on students. Traditionally, an adjunct was
someone of special experience or distinction who
had something valuable to offer. Increasingly, an
adjunct is someone willing to do instructional
piecework, often without the support (an office,
graders, etc.) usually extended to regular faculty.
For whatever reason, this seems to be causing
Daniel Jacoby, Harry Bridges Chair in Labor
Studies at the University of Washington, published
a study, Effects of Part Time Faculty Employment
on Community College Graduate Rates (see the
Nov./Dec. 2006 issue of the Journal of Higher
Education, 77:6), in which he concluded that
"community college rates decrease as the proportion
of part-time faculty employed increases." And the
decreases are dramatic.
USF, which has a problem with its graduation
rates, should take note.
But there are many differences of opinion
about what is going on, and what should be done
about it. One step that is being taken by the
American Federation of Teachers is its
Faculty And College Excellence (FACE) campaign,
which begins with the observation that money lies
at the bottom of much of this phenomenon, and
proposes, among other things, that as a long-term
goal, "at least 75 % of the classes in any
academic department are being taught by tenured or
tenure-track faculty." UFF is working on adapting
AFT's model legislation to be appropriate for
Florida and the variety of the state's public
universities and colleges. One bill was introduced
and died in this year's legislative session, and a
bill that addresses the problem of contingent
academic labor but is specific to Florida's needs,
including USF's, will be introduced in next year's
The issue is not only financial: it also has
to do with the identity of the university itself.
Half a century ago, Nobel Laureate Isadore Rabi
told incoming Columbia President Dwight Eisenhower
that faculty are not employees of the university;
faculty are the university. When Rabi said this,
he was speaking as a faculty member. But a survey
of contemporary dictionaries suggests that the
word "faculty" is rather fuzzy. However we resolve
the issue of what the word "faculty" means, it is
important that this resolution not wind up being
something like, "a tiny fraction of the teachers."