UFF Biweekly EXTRA
United Faculty of Florida -- USF System Chapter
14 February 2012
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NEXT CHAPTER MEETING AT USF POLY: UPDATE
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 LTB 2155. Lunch (sandwiches, chips and soda) will be served at noon. We have moved our visit to USF Sarasota / Manatee to March 23.
CONTRIBUTE TO UFF PAC!
So you thought that during an election year, the legislature would behave itself. Recent events make it even more clear why UFF not only needs to buy attention and good vibrations with campaign contributions, but also – this being an election year – find a way to support better 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 a few dollars 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.
JOIN UFF TODAY!
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!
SENATE BUDGET PROPOSES 58 % CUT IN STATE USF FUNDING:
UNITED FACULTY OF FLORIDA AND USF PRESIDENT JUDY GENSHAFT
APPEAL TO USF COMMUNITY TO JOIN THE FIGHT
Hours after (statewide) United Faculty of Florida President Tom Auxter broadcast an appeal to fight a proposed $ 400 million cut to the State University System, USF President Judy Genshaft appealed to faculty, staff, students, alumni, and friends of USF to fight a proposed 58 % cut in state funding to USF (that 58 % being our share of the $ 400 million cut). Auxter and Genshaft were responding to the Florida State Senate budget proposal released Friday, and they were asking people to contact their state senators to tell them not to cut higher education.
It is urgent: the Senate Budget Committee hears the budget on Wednesday. Both UFF and USF have posted senate contacts: UFF has posted contact information for
members of the Senate Budget Committee to encourage phone calls and emails before Wednesday's Budget Committee meeting, while the USF Alumni Association has
set up a form for people to find and contact their own senators. Both the UFF and the USF Administration remind everyone that you must use personal phones or computers when contacting legislators.
The USF Board of Trustees held an emergency meeting yesterday evening, and Chairman John Ramil opened with a reminder that USF has an economic impact of $ 3.7 billion on the region. A handout described:
So the universities are getting a disproportionate cut (just as everyone is talking about STEM education and globalization) and USF is targeted in particular. So what is happening? There was some mention of Florida State Senate Budget Chairman J. D. Alexander , and COO Long said that when he asked a legislative aide in Tallahassee what formula was used to determine the cuts, the aide responded, "There's no formula; it's political."
- Cuts to the various Florida public universities. USF gets by far the largest proportional cut – USF Tampa is cut 58.2 %, followed by UCF's 34.9 % cut – and the largest amount cut – USF Tampa is cut $ 103.8 million, followed by UCF's $ 76.9 million cut. The fact that USF and UCF are the two major targets of the cuts inspired several comments about how this budget would undercut the I-4 High Tech Corridor initiative.
- Effects of the cuts, which USF Chief Operating Officer John Long projected would add up to $ 128 million over the next academic year. Vice Provost Graham Tobin expanded on the four talking points, warning that classes would become larger and less accessible, making it take longer for students to complete their studies and thus forcing them to either drop out or get deeper into debt. It would reduce research capacity and impact the local economy. And, COO Long added, it would adversely affect USF's AA bond rating.
"This is not a done deal," said President Genshaft. After USF Director of Government Relations Mark Walsh projected a ten-day to three-week timeline should Alexander's committee approve the cuts on Wednesday, Genshaft said, "Every legislator in the region needs to hear from you." The Faculty Representative to the Board, Professor Liz Bird, said, "Over fifty years, we built this university from practically nothing. And we're not going to let it be torn down." USF Student Government President Matthew Diaz said, "We need to be united to go and talk to Tallahassee."
During the meeting, several business leaders vowed to fight the cuts.
- Both Genshaft and Bird said that many faculty are not aware of the danger, and agreed that faculty needed to be heard – and not rely on someone else to do something.
- Several business leaders, on the Board and in the audience, worried that the cuts would ripple through the local economy – USF is the region's third largest employer, after the public schools and MacDill – and that the cuts could undermine or even kill technology development in the region.
- One board member said that some legislators may be on the fence, waiting to see if there was pushback. If there was a lot of (immediate) pushback, the universities would be in a strong position to reverse the cuts; if not, they would be in serious danger.
After the meeting, a
letter from President Genshaft was broadcast through the system, and the Tampa Tribune has already posted an article on how the Senate plan includes "devastating" USF budget cut.
In general, any phone or email message to a legislator's office should be short (aim for 200 words or less), polite, direct and unambiguous, and make one point that the staff members can clearly identify. And again, one must use a personal phone or computer to contact a member of the Senate Budget Committee or one's own state senator.
Next Chapter Meeting Friday, February 24, at 11 am, in LTB 2155, 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.
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