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UFF Biweekly
United Faculty of Florida -- USF System Chapter
20 February 2014
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Chapter Meeting Tomorrow 12 noon at USF Sarasota / Manatee

The Chapter will meet tomorrow Friday at 12 noon in USF Sarasota / Manatee in room B333. See the map. Here is the spring schedule for upcoming Chapter meetings.

  • On February 21 at USF Sarasota / Manatee in B333.
  • On March 7 in USF Tampa and on March 21 at USF St. Petersburg.
  • On April 4 in USF Tampa and on April 18 at USF Sarasota / Manatee.
  • On May 2 at USF Tampa.
There will be sandwiches, soda, and chips. All UFF USF employees - UFF members and non-members alike - are invited.

$ 500 Travel Grants for New UFF Members - and for UFF Members Who Recruit New Members

The USF Chapter of the UFF will award four $ 500 Travel Scholarships for next summer and spring.

  • UFF USF employees who join UFF this fall (i.e., joined after January 9 and who join no later than May 1) are eligible for one of two scholarships to be randomly selected at the May 2 UFF USF Chapter Meeting. For information on how new members (or non-members who would like to join UFF) may apply, see the flyer for new and prospective members. Non-members wishing to be eligible must have their membership forms in our hands by May 1. In addition, proposals must also be in our hands by May 1. Two proposals from new members will be randomly selected for funding.
  • Current UFF members who recruit at least one new UFF member are eligible for one of two scholarships to be randomly selected at the May 2 UFF USF Chapter Meeting. For information on how UFF members may apply, see the flyer for UFF members who would like to recruit new members. Notice that recruiters should put their name on the membership form for the new member. If a new member is recruited, the new member is eligible for one of the scholarships for new members and the recruiter is eligible for one of the scholarships for current members. Again, membership forms and proposals must be in our hands by May 1, and two proposals by recruiters will be randomly selected for funding.
This initiative is part of our membership campaign. If you would like to become active in the UFF USF Membership Drive, contact the Chapter Secretary.

Call for Nominations

The UFF USF Chapter elections this spring are now underway and we strongly encourage UFF USF members to participate, by running for offices and seats, or at least by voting. We also encourage non-members to join UFF and participate: only dues-paying UFF USF members may participate in the chapter elections. The positions open for election are:

  • The four elective offices: the president, the vice president, the secretary, and the treasurer.
  • The seats in the legislative bodies of our affiliates: the United Faculty of Florida Senate and the Florida Education Association Delegate Assembly.
Deadlines are:
  • Deadline for joining UFF in order to participate in the election: February 28.
  • Deadline for nominations: March 7.
To nominate someone, a UFF member should go to the online Nomination form. Self-nominations are encouraged.

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 FALL. Come and join the movement.

Grievances

If you have been the victim of a violation of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, you have thirty days from the time you knew or should have known of the violation to file a grievance. If you are, and at the time of the violation were, a dues-paying member of the United Faculty of Florida, you have the right to union representation. To contact the UFF USF Grievance Committee, go to the online contact form. For more information, see our web-page on grievances.

IN THIS ISSUE

Retirement and Program Cuts

In this issue, we look money issues.

  • Retirement, Again. The Legislature wants to reform our retirement program some more, which means another political fight during this spring session. For more, see below or click here.
  • Program cuts at USF. The USF Board of Trustee's ACE workgroup is considering suspending or terminating more programs. For more, see below or click here.
And a reminder: this is evaluation time, so it is time to get your materials in order for the annual evaluations. Evaluations are used not only to determine merit pay raises, but they also influence tenure and promotion decisions and even retention and renewal decisions. They should be taken very seriously. For more information, see the article on them in the 10 January 2013 Biweekly.

Retirement, Again

Our retirement program is on the griddle again. Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford is talking to reporters about "reforming" the retirement system by putting firefighters and police in one program and everyone else in another program. State Senator Jack Latvala described it as "...a separate and conquer strategy, obviously ... They take the groups that traditionally support Republicans and separate them from the other workers."

Here is what Latvala seems concerned about. Last year, Weatherford tried to get a law passed preventing new state and public employees from enrolling in Florida's defined benefits program in the Florida Retirement System. New employees would be required to enroll in 401(k)-like defined contributions programs. This would be a problem even for employees on defined contribution Optional Retirement Programs because the state contributions to all these programs are driven by actuarial requirements for the defined benefits program. If the defined benefits program is downgraded, state contributions to all programs will fall (that's a political reality) and employees will be stuck with smaller retirement benefits.

The Florida Education Association (the FEA, UFF's statewide affiliate) led the fight against the law last year, and it was voted down. Weatherford vowed that he would be back, and so he is. What Weatherford is saying to the press is that firefighters, police, and other Republican-leaning public employees would be in one program and everyone else would be in the other. This is a remarkable exercise in cynicism, even for Florida, for the following reason. A defined benefits program is like a tightrope walker: it keeps its balance by moving forward. If new employees are dissuaded or prevented from joining, its ability to support retirees may be compromised.

What Weatherford is proposing is handing Republican-leaning state and public employees a sabotaged retirement program while forcing Democratic-leaning state and public employees into a less beneficial program. Democrats are stabbed in the chest while Republicans are stabbed in the back.

This is a fight that the FEA can win, but once again, the FEA will need the support of its locals, like UFF, its members, including members of the UFF, and the support of non-members, who are free to express their views to their state legislators. Stay tuned.

Meanwhile, one way to support the FEA's effort to educate legislators is to join UFF: Download, fill in, and mail the membership form. And speaking of retirement, here's a reminder. In 2011, Governor Scott came up with a proposal to cut the state contribution to the retirement system and requiring state and public employees pay 8 % of their salary to retirement. The FEA led the fight against that, and by the time the proposal reached the legislature, the employee contribution was 5 %. The FEA continued to fight, and the law was passed at 3 %. That's 3 % too much 3 % more than was in the compensation package pre-2011 employees signed for but FEA saved all UFF USF employees five times as much as UFF's dues.

Program cuts at USF

Another round of program suspensions and terminations for USF appear to be on the drawing board.

The USF Board of Trustees does much of its business through four "workgroups": the Academics and Campus Environment (ACE) workgroup, the Finance and Audit workgroup, the Health workgroup, and the Research, Innovation, Engagement, and Job Creation workgroup. The ACE workgroup oversees academic programs, which includes suspending and terminating programs.

The agenda for the February 13 meeting of the workgroup included a presentation by Provost Ralph Wilcox on a Recommendation to terminate and/or suspend Degree Programs across the USF System.

Since the summary of the meeting has not been posted yet, we do not know what the workgroup recommended. But just looking at the slides posted, we can see:

  • From Slide 2, these recommendations arise from "a regular cycle of systematic, annual review of low-productivity / low-demand degree programs," with the goals of aligning the programs with the Strategic Plan, eliminating duplicative programs, and aligning with "market need and demand."
  • From Slide 3, the proposal is now at Stage 3, so whatever recommendations the ACE workgroup has made will now be forwarded to the Board of Trustees, whose next meeting is on Thursday, March 6, on USF Tampa, in the MSC Ballroom.
  • From Slide 6, we see that during 2011 - 2013, sixteen programs from USF Lakeland were terminated, five from USF Tampa were terminated (in Art Teacher Education, Drama and Dance Teacher Education, General Engineering and Playwriting and Screenwriting), and one from USF Tampa was suspended (Geography).
  • Slides 10 and 11 list proposed suspensions and terminations. There are six programs from USF Tampa slated foor suspension, 26 programs from USF Tampa slated for termination (including two from Arts & Sciences, two from the Arts, four from Business, ten from Education, five from Engineering, and one from Honors) and three programs from USF St. Petersburg slated for termination. There is nothing about how these programs were performing, nor which ones would be simply eliminated and which ones would be merged with other programs.
The ACE workgroup recommendations made February 13 are scheduled to be presented to the USF Board of Trustees on March 6, and then the Florida Board of Governors on March 7.

LOGISTICS

Chapter Meeting tomorrow Friday, February 21, at 12 pm on USF Sarasota / Manatee in room B333.

There will be free sandwiches, chips, and soda pop. 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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