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UFF Biweekly
United Faculty of Florida -- USF System Chapter
4 April 2013
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UFF USF Chapter Meeting Tomorrow in Sarasota

The UFF USF Chapter will meet tomorrow Friday on UFF USF Sarasota / Manatee at 12 noon in B226. Here are driving directions and the campus map. As always, all USF faculty and professionals, UFF members and non-members alike, are invited.

The last two meetings of the spring semester are on Fridays, April 19 and May 3, at 12 noon, on USF Tampa in EDU 150. Bring a friend.

Election Returns

At the last UFF USF Chapter Meeting, the ties in the races for the UFF Senate and the FEA Delegation were resolved by drawing lots. As mentioned in the previous Biweekly, the newly elected officers are President Paul Terry, Vice President Art Shapiro, Secretary Greg McColm, and Treasurer Sonia Wohlmuth. And now we have:

  • The 23 UFF Senators representing USF: Katerina Annaraud, Adrienne Berarducci, Candace Burns, Sherman Dorn, Cecil Greek, Susan Hurley, Valerie Janesick, Wayne Jones, Steve Lang, John Liontas, Barbara Loeding, Greg McColm, Vic Peppard, Steve Permuth, Frank Pyrtle, Lisa Rapp, Jay Schrock, Art Shapiro, Barbara Spector, Paul Terry (serving ex officio), John Walker, Robert Welker and Sonia Wohlmuth. Harry Vanden will serve as an alternate.
  • The seven FEA Delegates representing USF: Candace Burns, Steve Lang, John Liontas, Greg McColm, Steve Permuth, Art Shapiro and Paul Terry. Adrienne Berarducci will serve as an alternate.
Officers and representatives assumed their positions on April 1.

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 AS A DUES PAYING MEMBER, YOU WILL RECEIVE A $ 100 REBATE NEXT SPRING. Come and join the movement.


Doing Something About It

If something ought to be done, we tend to think that someone (else) should step forward and do it. But waiting for someone (else) to do something is not a particularly effective strategy for getting things done.

  • That's Our Retirement They're Playing With. It turns out that a number of the bad bills - including the bill eviscerating our pension - in Tallahassee were inspired our old adversary, ALEC. Someone ought to do something. For more, see below.
  • Presenting Faculty with a Fait Accompli. In this age of educational reform, one of the major problems is getting innovations to work. Successful innovations require faculty involvement, and not just after the decisions have been made. For more, see below.
Recall from the previous UFF USF Biweekly that one problem with defined contribution plans is that they make retirement more dangerous for inattentive participants. Coincidentally, Tampa Bay Times business columnist Robert Trigaux asks, Are you saving enough for retirement?

Getting Involved in Tallahassee

The Florida Retirement System (FRS), which handles most of our pensions, is in fairly good shape according to the experts. Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford disagrees, and the Florida House has passed House Bill 7011 to ... rescue ... the FRS by requiring that all new hires (as of next year) take the 401(k)-like defined contribution plan, not the traditional defined benefits plan. (The Florida Senate nervously passed a more moderate Senate Bill 1392.) Meanwhile, a Pennsylvania think tank warns that the legislation will compromise the FRS.

The Keystone Research Center usually focusses on Pennsylvania, but last week it issued a report co-authored by the former director of the Florida Division of Retirement Services, on The High Cost to Taxpayers of Forcing Florida Public Employees Into Lower-Quality Retirement Plans. Keystone's argument is that if employees are not permitted to join the defined benefit plan then as participants get older but are not replaced by younger workers, the plan will have fewer resources to maintain retiree benefits.

This is the umpteenth time this objection has been made, which may be why the Florida Senate is nervous.

Meanwhile, the Palm Beach Post reports that one source of this legislation is our old adversary, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a right wing think tank that the Biweekly described in its 7 April 2011 issue. According to the Post, in August 2011, many Florida legislators met at an ALEC conference to learn about, among other things, fiddling with public employee benefits. One ALEC official told the Post that "The momentum for pension reform is stronger today because many governments are still seeing the effects of the recession on investment returns ... It's going to be a long time before things improve. Florida legislators are aware of this."

A cynical interpretation of this quote is that this is a good time to handicap the pension fund, and when it later goes south and needs to be bailed out, public employees and their unions will be blamed.

But two things we should take from ALEC is its patience and its organization. That's how to get things done. ALEC's corporate sponsors didn't wait for someone else to do something about those nasty public employees, they did it themselves. And they built an organization; if the recent restriction in NSF funding for political science teaches us anything, it teaches us that we need a vigilant organization to defend our interests and ideals.

We have such an organization in Florida. The United Faculty of Florida. Download, fill in, and mail the membership form today.

Getting Involved at Home

This is an era of educational innovation, if not revolution. For a large institution like USF, that means both opportunity and danger. The opportunity to move to the frontier and participate in the paradigm shift; the danger in a failure that demoralizes participants and stakeholders and hobbles future efforts. As Nikola Tesla, Preston Tucker, and, yes, Leonardo Da Vinci discovered, being right is not enough. Vision alone will not get the machine off the paper and into the air.

Getting it into the air is one percent inspiration and 99 % perspiration, at least according to that impresario of many success stories, Thomas Edison. And while we remember his inspirations, we forgot the enormous effort he put into each invention, including market research and getting it right.

One absolutely necessary bit of perspiration many education leaders skimp on is building the movement to get the job done. If a project lacks sufficient resources, if a project lacks sufficient support from its own constituents, if a project does not articulate successfully with other programs, the results can be disastrous.

Three administrative experts address the necessity of combining the planning and group buy-in processes in a recent column in Inside Higher Ed. The bottom line is that faculty and professionals should be involved in the planning process - and not just presented with a fait accompli once planning is completed. This is not just because faculty involvement is the right, warm and fuzzy thing to do, or that faculty governance is mandated by the UFF USF Collective Bargaining Agreement. It is also because without expert faculty and professional advice, the plan will be less competently drawn and more likely to need repairs (or even fail and failure happens). It is also because it is the faculty and professionals who will have to actually carry out the project, and our support is necessary for the project's success.

The authors brought up the issue of trust, saying that, "If you try to lead a change effort in a climate of low trust, you will most likely fail, even if you have enormous resources. In fact, if you are functioning in such an environment the first, and possibly only, function you need to be concerned with is genuinely improving trust." An education leader must make trust a high priority: "When a campus has a high level of trust between faculty, staff and administrators, you can produce great things, even with scarce resources. When trust is present, stakeholders are willing to take risks, follow others, share credit, communicate openly and sacrifice in service of the institution's vision, mission and values. However, when trust is low, every detail becomes a debate, things move at a glacial pace, the rumor mill is in full gear and shadows cross the campus."

USF faces a century of great opportunities. Making USF into a world class institution will require that we all are part of the planning process.


Next Chapter Meeting tomorrow Friday, April 5, at noon, on UFF USF Sarasota / Manatee at 12 noon in B226.

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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