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UFF Biweekly
United Faculty of Florida -- USF System Chapter
7 February 2013
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CHAPTER MEETING EARLY (AT 11 AM) AND AT USF ST. PETERSBURG

The UFF USF Chapter Meeting tomorrow, Friday, will be at 11 am at USF St. Petersburg in COQ 208. As always, there will be sandwiches and soda, and all USF employees in the bargaining unit UFF members and otherwise are welcome. Here is the link to the map and directions; notice from campus map that the FPF Parking Garage opens to 5th Avenue South between 2nd Street South and 3rd Street South, and that Coquina Hall (COQ) is on the west side of the southern end of 1st Street South.

CHAPTER ELECTION NOMINATIONS DUE FEBRUARY 15

For all those UFF members who want to become active in the union or who think that someone should do things better the deadline for nominations is upon us. And if you want to vote in the election, the deadline is also upon us. The deadline for nominations is February 15, and the deadline for joining the union in order to vote in the Chapter election is also February 15. That means that nominations and / or membership forms must be received by February 15.

Any UFF USF member may run for any one of these offices:

  • The President oversees the operations of the chapter.
  • The Vice President assists the President.
  • The Secretary maintains documents and records.
  • The Treasurer handles finances.
These four elected officers, and the Chief Negotiator (appointed by the President), make up the Executive Council. In addition, the USF Chapter of UFF sends representatives to statewide meetings:
  • UFF Senators representing USF. The UFF Senate meets twice a year, from a Saturday mid-afternoon to Sunday noon, in Tampa or Orlando. UFF Senators elected in this race will attend the September 14-15 meeting this fall and a second meeting early next year.
  • FEA Delegates representing UFF at the Florida Education Association Assembly. Delegates elected in this election will attend the October 10 12 meeting this fall.
UFF USF members may run for either senator or delegate or both; UFF USF members running for an office may also run for one or both representative positions.

If you are interested, please download, fill in, and email the nomination form to our Election Chair. And thank you for your support.

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 litigation); 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 YOU CAN JOIN NOW AND AFTER A TERM AS A DUES PAYING MEMBER, YOU WILL RECEIVE A $ 100 REBATE. Come and join the movement.

WHAT'S YOUR SALARY?

Governor Scott has put up a website on Holding Government Accountable, which allows browsers to find the salaries of state employees and university employees (but not other public employees, as of yet). This is not unprecedented; Charlie Crist set up a similar page, and the Tampa Tribune's pipeline is still online. Hopefully, there are fewer errors in this one.

IN THIS ISSUE

TALLAHASSEE HAS PLANS FOR US

Higher Education is on the griddle this year, as the Tallahassee leadership is convinced that we need to be reformed. There is less consensus about money: Governor Scott has vowed to give the universities more money - there is some confusion in press reports about how much, but it looks like a 12 % hike altogether (more on this in the next issue) - the legislature does not seem impressed. Both Scott and the legislature are toying with the idea of giving people bonuses (not raises) and cutting pensions further (again, more in upcoming Biweeklies). But in this issue, we look at signs that "reform" is in the wind.

  • Scott Turns to Higher Ed. The Blue Ribbon Task Force made its report, and now politicians are weighing in. With the incoming Senate President denouncing tenure as immoral, the sky may be the limit. For more, see below.
  • Meanwhile, back at the Supreme Court. The Florida Supreme Court hands down a long-awaited decision on the Board of Governors' authority to determine tuition. The Court makes a clear signal of deference to the Legislature. For more, see below.

ARTICLES

Scott Turns to Higher Ed

2013 was advertised as the year of higher education, and Governor Scott prepared by appointing a Blue Ribbon Task Force to review the universities and make proposals. The proposal is posted online, and was divided into three "organizing concepts":

  • Accountability. The Task Force claimed that accountability metrics are useful as a regulatory and organizational check on "arbitrary power" (the Task Force did not say whose arbitrary power they had in mind), and they recommended greater use of metrics-based accountability focusing on percentage of graduates employed or continuing education, in particular in baccalaureate degrees in "areas of strategic emphasis."
  • Funding. The Task Force suspected institutions of irresponsible and profligate spending. They did suggest that the state should provide sufficient funding at one point, they bit the bullet and proposed tripling total funding but most of their enthusiasm was for subsidizing "high-skill, high-wage, high-demand" majors.
  • Governance. Having proposed the government determine student major priorities (rather than rely on market forces), and having decided to micromanage the system, the report concluded with a remark on the Board of Governors' authority: "A governing body without the ability to influence the allocation of resources to a portfolio of institutions is severely handicapped and can hardly be expected to be responsible for the outcomes that result."
The concluding remark on the Board's authority is outside of the Tallahassee mainstream, and since the amputation of USF Polytechnic, the Governor has gotten increasingly involved in higher education. And of course, he appoints the members of the Board of Governors to their staggered seven-year terms. The Board is supposed to be independent, but as one recently reappointed board member explained why he had changed his position on a major issue (tuition hikes) after talking to the governor: "He's the governor. It would be inappropriate for me to veer very far from that."

Meanwhile, Back at the Supreme Court

In the previous Biweekly, we suggested that the recent Florida Supreme Court decision to permit the State of Florida to charge public and state employees 3 % of their salaries showed that the Court was inclined to defer to the legislature. A recent resolution of another longstanding case has confirmed that suspicion.

In 2007, then-Governor Charlie Crist vetoed a bill raising tuition across-the-board but signed tuition permitting UF, FSU and USF to implement differential tuition (within limits) and former Governor Bob Graham responded with a lawsuit. Graham's point was that the voters had created a constitutional body, the Board of Governors, and it was up to the Board not the legislature to set tuition.

It's been six years, and even the name of the suit has changed, but the issue remained the same. The governor defends the right of the legislature to regulate tuition, Graham denies the legislature that right, and the Board that Graham defends keeps low. The trial court ruled for Graham but the appeals court ruled for the governor. The recent Blue Ribbon Task Force made Graham's case with that remark: "[a] governing body without the ability to influence the allocation of resources to a portfolio of institutions is severely handicapped and can hardly be expected to be responsible for the outcomes that result."

The Supreme Court disagreed, and ruled unanimously that the legislature can set tuition. The court rejected Graham's contention that there is a distinction between tuition and fees versus general revenue paid by the state, claiming that the legislature's decision to segregate "for a purpose of law" tuition and fees as "Educational and General" (E & G) funds for the university did not mean that the legislature was conceding authority over those funds which raises the interesting question of exactly what authority the legislature had over those funds (an issue that the court probably preferred not to think about).

Whatever one thinks of the court's decision as a matter of law, this unanimous decision cedes even more power to the legislature. To paraphrase Mr. Dooley, the Supreme Court follows the election returns, and the political reality is that the legislature has an entrenched leadership, a leadership that went after the Court last fall. Whatever the Court's intentions, it is likely that the legislative leadership will interpret this decision as sanction to do what it wants with tuition.

LOGISTICS

Next Chapter Meeting tomorrow Friday, February 8, at 11 am (note time change), in COQ 208 at USF St. Petersburg.

Sandwiches, chips, and soda will be provided by the Chapter, 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: All employees 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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