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UFF Biweekly EXTRA
United Faculty of Florida -- USF System Chapter
12 February 2012
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Because of the threat to USF Polytechnic, the next UFF USF Chapter Meeting will be at USF Poly on February 24, starting early, at 11 am, in a room TBA. Lunch (sandwiches, chips and soda) will be served at noon. We have moved our visit to USF Sarasota / Manatee to March 23.


UFF buys attention and good vibrations with campaign contributions to legislators, but DUES MONEY DOES NOT GO TOWARDS CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTIONS. So the UFF Political Action Committee needs your help! Download, fill in, and mail the PAC paycheck deduction form to contribute ONE DOLLAR out of each paycheck towards the PAC fund. As the lead article of this Extra makes clear, we need all the pull in the legislature that we can get.


Download, fill in, and mail the membership form. Benefits of membership include the right to run and vote in UFF chapter and statewide elections; representation in grievances (UFF cannot represent a non-member in a grievance or future litigation); greater opportunities for influencing the bargaining agenda; special deals in insurance, travel, legal advice, and other packages provided by our affiliates (there will be a presentation on these benefits at our February 10 Chapter Meeting); free insurance coverage for job-related liability; and the knowledge you are supporting education in Florida. And if you join now, you will get a $ 100 rebate dues rebate. Come and join the movement!


A new bill to eliminate USF Polytechnic will be considered by the Florida State Senate Budget Committee, chaired by Senator J. D. Alexander, on Wednesday, February 15. The United Faculty of Florida is requesting all faculty, professional employees, and friends to contact Florida State Senate President Mike Haridopolos to ask that the bill be stopped; it is required that you use your use their personal phone or personal computer to contact President Haridopolos at haridopolos.mike.web@flsenate.gov or at (850) 487-5056. UFF also asks people to contact their own state senator.

Here are the details.

On Wednesday, February 8, Florida Senator Evelyn Lynn presented a "Conforming Bill" at her Budget Subcommittee on Higher Education to create a new and autonomous Florida Polytechnic University (FPU) by scuttling USF Polytechnic, stripping it of its physical and financial resources and somehow sending all USF Polytechnic faculty, staff and students elsewhere in USF despite the fact that all records and staff and faculty positions at USF Polytechnic will be transferred to this new FPU.

This new university will, by statute, by an accredited university by 2016, although the act is to go into effect immediately. So under the law we may expect four years of academic chaos. (Senator Lynn's statement that this bill merely accelerates the Board of Governors' timetable for USF Poly independence was a little misleading.) Fortunately, to provide advice and counsel, the University of Florida is invited to kibbitz on "hiring, accreditation, administration, and other areas."

It is not entirely clear who is responsible for this proposal. Several newspapers have suggested that it was Florida Senator J. D. Alexander, whose partial victory in winning the Florida Board of Governors endorsement of eventual independence of USF Polytechnic was not as expeditious or as melodramatic as he had hoped. Circumstantial evidence supporting this theory included:

However, Alexander said that the bill was the work of the subcommittee chair, Senator Lynn, who did indeed propose it (see the video; the conforming bill comes up about eighteen minutes into the recording). However, the bill is not listed on her web-page.

Whatever the provenance, the bill dumps over a hundred USF faculty and staff and several hundred USF students into limbo while stripping USF's budget of an uncertain amount of money ($ 40 million? $ 50 million?) in a capricious act that would set the precedent that a Florida public university is a plaything of powerful legislators. The effect on Polk County could be disastrous: it is not clear where the current faculty, staff, and students would go, and President Belle Whelan of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (which accredits USF) warned that "Until the (SACS) board approves [FPU] as an institution, [it doesn't] exist as far as we're concerned."

Polk could wind up with an immense parking lot surrounded by half-built buildings if things go wrong. Even if FPU is somehow launched, a new and compliant administration may try to bust unions, shift liabilities to USF, and generate other litigation. USF's own reputation and standing could be compromised. And as for more STEM in Polk County, well...

The United Faculty of Florida is concerned about how this bill is being rammed through the legislature without seeking input from administrators, faculty, students, or other stakeholders. Universities should not be waved into and out of existence by legislative fiat; the issue should be considered carefully and actions planned carefully, as the Board of Governors did and planned to do.

So the United Faculty of Florida strongly recommends that this is the time to speak out. The bill is being heard again on Wednesday morning, February 15. UFF is encouraging all members of the USF community and all friends of USF to contact their senators: see the list of links to senators' webpages or UFF's excel file of contact addresses, email addresses, and phone numbers. UFF believes that the most impact will be felt if people contacted Senate President Mike Haridopolos; whose email address is haridopolos.mike.web@flsenate.gov and whose phone number is (850) 487-5056; in addition, you can send an email or make a call to your own state senator, here is the link to the form for finding your senator and contact information.

When contacting legislators, you should use your personal computer or phone and not a state computer of phone for such an email or call.

Time being critical, phone calls and emails especially phone calls are the most useful; as the bill is being heard on Wednesday morning, phone calls and emails would be most effective on Monday or Tuesday (the earlier the better). Both phone calls and emails are being taken by staff members, so messages should be short, polite, and make one point clearly.

This affair is an example of the mutual support that the administration and the union can provide. After the last round over USF Polytechnic, the United Faculty of Florida commended President Genshaft for her role, and at the last USF Tampa Faculty Senate meeting, President Genshaft thanked UFF for its support. We all share a commitment to the mission of the University of South Florida in higher education, and we will continue to work in our own ways for the future of the institution and the community of which we are a part.


Next Chapter Meeting Friday, February 24, at 11 am, in a room TBA, on USF Polytechnic. Sandwiches & sodas are provided by the union, and all UFF members are invited to attend. Non-members are also invited to come and check us out. Come and join the movement.

Membership: Everyone in the UFF USF System Bargaining unit is eligible for UFF membership: to join, simply fill out and send in the membership form.

NOTE: The USF-UFF Chapter website is http://www.uff.ourusf.org, and our e-mail address is uff@ourusf.org.

About this broadcast: This Newsletter was broadcast from uff.ourusf.org, hosted at ICDsoft.com, and is intended for all members of the UFF USF Bargaining unit (USF faculty and professionals at most departments). A (usually identical) version will be broadcast to USF-News and USF-Talk from mccolm@usf.edu.

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The UFF also sends out a biannual hardcopy newsletter, Uncommon Sense, to the entire unit. Past issues of Uncommon Sense are posted on-line. Articles from past issues of the Biweekly are also posted on-line.