United Faculty of Florida -- USF System Chapter
8 March 2012
Email not displaying properly?
View it in your browser
LAST CALL FOR ELECTIONS! DEADLINE IS MARCH 10
This is your chance to get involved, to help your colleagues at USF and at Tallahassee. We need candidates to run for chapter offices (president, vice president, secretary, and treasurer) and we need people to run for representative positions:
We have posted a nomination form, or you can send your own letter nominating someone. Self-nominations are encouraged: send the form or letter with your name, office and preferred email addresses, office and home phones, office and home mailing addresses, a 250-word self-description, biographical sketch or campaign statement, and a URL to any site you would like fellow union members to see when looking over candidates. Please send the form or letter to the UFF USF Election Chair, Professor Steve Tauber, at firstname.lastname@example.org by March 10. But remember: only UFF members may run or vote, so JOIN TODAY!
UFF Senators represent USF at the biannual UFF Senate meeting in Orlando or Tampa. It's a weekend in September and a weekend next February (from Saturday mid-afternoon to Sunday noon) to plan for, among other things, the 2013 legislative session, and
FEA Delegates to represent UFF at the annual FEA Assembly in Orlando on October 18 – 20 (actually, it's really Friday October 19 going into the morning of Saturday, October 20), where they will elect officers (president, vice president, secretary-treasurer) for the next term of office, plan for the November election, and plan for the 2013 legislative session.
CONTRIBUTE TO UFF PAC!
UFF needs your help to fight for you in Tallahassee. We need to help reasonable candidates get elected this fall, and we need to build relationships with legislators we will be dealing with next spring. Thanks to the U. S. Supreme Court, that means campaign contributions. But DUES MONEY DOES NOT GO TOWARDS CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTIONS. So the UFF Political Action Committee needs donations! Download, fill in, and mail the PAC paycheck deduction form to contribute a few dollars out of each paycheck towards the PAC fund. 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; 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.
COALITION OF IMMOKALEE WORKERS FAST FOR FAIR FOOD ENDS MARCH 10
The Fast for Fair Food is carrying the torch of creative non-violence in the fight for fundamental human rights with a six-day fast outside of Publix headquarters on 3300 Publix Corporate Parkway in Lakeland. On March 5th, outside Publix corporate headquarters in Lakeland, Florida, fifty farmworkers and their allies -- faith leaders, students, and community leaders from across Florida and across the country -- came together for a six-day fast, their sacrifice undertaken in the hope of raising awareness of Publix's role in blocking progress in the fields and expanding the rights of the farmworkers who harvest the nation's food. On March 10th, Day Six of the fast, Fair Food allies will converge on Lakeland for a protest at a Publix location followed by a 3.5-mile procession leading to Publix headquarters, where they will join the fasters in a ceremony to break the fast.
IN THIS ISSUE
The Florida State University System is having one hard year after another with the state legislature. In this issue we look at:
- First, the Good News. Last year, the governor and the legislature decided to impose what amounted to an income tax on public employees, requiring that we "contribute" 3 % of our salary towards our pension to make up for a cut in employer (i.e., state) contributions. The union sued, and the first court ruling is in our favor. For more, see below.
- The Bad News Isn't as Bad as it Could Have Been. Initially, USF faced a $ 128 million cut. The budget that the legislature is thinking of passing now cuts USF only $ 45 million (not counting USF Polytechnic). This Pyrrhic victory is a sharp reminder of the importance of getting organized. For more, see below.
FIRST, THE GOOD NEWS
Where do union dues go? For one thing, dues pay for lawyers.
Last year, the governor and the legislature decided to require that public employees (like us) pay 3 % towards our pension fund. The rationale kept changing, but ultimately the state was reneging on a contractual obligation: the pension plans were part of the total compensation package employers and employees had agreed to, and now the state was unilaterally changing the terms and conditions of employment. Contracts are central to a union's mission, and the Florida Education Association sued.
On Tuesday, March 6, Judge Jackie Fulford ruled that the imposition of the 3 % "contribution" was "unconstitutional as applied to individuals who were members of FRS prior to July 1, 2011, and defendants are permanently enjoined from implementing these provisions as to such individuals." Fulford made her position clear at the beginning of her summary. "... the role of the Judiciary is to interpret the law before it; not to make new law," but "Defendants urge this Court to ignore the plain language of the law ..." Furthermore, "This Court cannot set aside its constitutional obligations because a budget crisis exists in the State of Florida. To do so would be in direct contravention of this Court's oath to follow the law."
"We urge the governor and leaders in the Legislature to embrace this decision and abide by the judge’s ruling. If they decide to prolong this case with an appeal, FEA is prepared to continue fighting for the rights of middle-class families who make our state a better place," said Florida Education Association President Andy Ford in a press release posted by UFF. The press release suggested that the way to fix Florida's budget is to close tax loopholes and repeal some of the multibillion dollar tax giveaways for corporations and billionaires that they have passed over the last decade.
No such luck. Defendants Governor Rick Scott, Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, Attorney General Pam Bondi, and Secretary John Miles of the Department of Management Services promptly notified the court of their intent to appeal. And considering Fulford's emphasis on interpreting rather than making law, Governor Scott's and Senate President Mike Haridopolos's responses were surreal. Scott said that Fulford was "an example of a court substituting its own policy preferences for that of the legislature." "I am deeply disappointed in Judge Fulford's decision today," wrote Haridopolos; "She has proven once again that she is an activist judge who has no problem overstepping her authority and overruling the decisions of the state's elected representatives and the critical role that we play as the budget writers for the State of Florida."
The FEA will continue to pursue this case, and we thank all UFF and other FEA members whose union dues make it possible to fight an unjust and unconstitutional law. As Scott's and Haridopolos's mischievous responses make clear, the fight will continue, and continue to cost money. If you are not a member of the union and would like to support your rights and your university, download, fill in, and mail a membership form today.
THE BAD NEWS ISN'T AS BAD AS IT COULD HAVE BEEN
The budget has not been signed yet, and until it does, anything could happen. But as of now, the legislature has reduced the university system's $ 400 million cut to $ 300 million and in the process reducing the (non-Poly) cuts to USF in half, from just over $ 100 to just under $ 50 million.
That took an immense fight. Tampa Bay came to the defense of USF, and the FEA came to the defense of the State University System. Unfortunately, other university administrations were quieter and other metropolitan areas more complacent, which may explain why a 3 % cut to the state budget translated into a 17 % cut in state funds to the universities. This disproportionate cut will result in program cuts and restricted resources across the state. And student tuition now approximately equals state funding (some of us old-timers can remember when students paid only a fraction of what a state paid), so the budget is being balanced by mortgaging Florida's future.
If this goes on, Florida's universities will disintegrate. So the United Faculty of Florida is taking a more proactive role, preparing not only for the legislative session next year but also for the fall election. We will need all the ideas and support we can get, and two of the major forums for this proactivity are the UFF Senate and the FEA Delegate Assembly (both of which will meet this fall, and the senate will meet again next spring just before the legislature) (both meet in Tampa or Orlando). If you would like to help out, please run for one of our UFF Senate or FEA Delegate seats; you can start by nominating yourself for the election. All UFF members are free to run, but please act quickly as nominations must be in by Saturday, March 10.
Next Chapter Meeting tomorrow Friday, 12 noon, in EDU 150 on USF Tampa.
Sandwiches & sodas for lunch 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 email@example.com.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you do not want to receive the UFF Biweekly, you can unsubscribe below. If you do not receive the Biweekly, but want to, e-mail a message to email@example.com.