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UFF Biweekly
United Faculty of Florida -- USF System Chapter
17 April 2014
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No Chapter Meeting Tomorrow

The Chapter will not meet tomorrow, Friday, as it is Good Friday. (This is a season of many holidays of Spring, from Easter to Passover all the way back to the Rebirth of Adonis.) The Chapter will meet next week, Friday, April 25, at USF Sarasota / Manatee, in a room TBA. There will be sandwiches, soda, and chips. All UFF USF employees - UFF members and non-members alike - are invited.

This will be the second to last UFF USF Chapter Meeting this semester. The last one will be on Friday, May 2, at 12 noon, on USF Tampa.

$ 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.

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

Bargaining, Retirement, and Textbooks

By now, readers will be familiar with President Genshaft's March 26 Letter to the USF Community on bargaining, the March 28 UFF USF Biweekly Extra on Bargaining, the April 1 Letter from the UFF USF Bargaining Team, which was also distributed as hardcopy, the April 10 Oracle article on bargaining, and the April 15 Oracle article. And the UFF Bargaining Team has sent out another letter, which you will be receiving as hardcopy early next week. So where are we now?

  • Management proposes 2.5 % this (academic) year and only discretionary raises next year. UFF counter-offered with 2.5 % this year plus a bonus, and discretion, with next year's merit raise to be bargained. For details, see below or click here.
  • Cutting retirement. Governor Scott and the legislature are letting the retirement program go into the red. For a picture, see below or click here.
  • The Legislature and your textbooks. The Legislature is considering a bill to require undergraduate texts remain in continuous use for three years: faculty would have to get permission from the Administration to change texts in the course they plan to teach. For more, see below or click here.
If you feel the need to communicate your views to your legislators, it is most effective to do it by phone. Use a private phone. Be courteous and to the point; it may be best to write out your message in advance. Legislators may be found in the list of state senators and the list of state representatives, along with district maps and contact information.

Management proposes 2.5 % this (academic) year and only discretionary raises next year

USF Faculty and professionals can be proud: despite headwinds from Tallahassee and serving a major metropolitan area, USF is second only to UF in new performance standards, which the Board of Governors hopes will earn USF an $ 8.9 million bonus this year. Last year, USF tied with UCF among non-"pre-eminent" universities, and got a $ 2.6 million bonus.

We done good, and President Genshaft said to USF faculty and staff in her 2013 Fall Address: "We value you and that’s why I am reinvesting funds and making available $8 million for performance or merit-based increases to base salaries effective January 1st." (The bold underline was from her web-page.)

But public statements are not legal commitments: what matters is what the USF Administration Bargaining Team proposes. On April 11, the Administration Team revived an old proposal for a contract that included a 2.5 % merit raise after ratification, plus (up to) a 1 % discretionary raise, and the latter would have to be distributed by May, 2015. In other words, the USF Administration offered a 2.5 % merit raise (effective very soon) this year, nothing next year, except for the fraction who would receive however much of the discretionary raise the Administration cares to distribute (to whomever they like).

The UFF USF Bargaining Team (which represents you) countered with a 2.5 % merit raise (effective very soon) this year, 1 % discretion for the Administration to play with through May, 2015, a 2.5 % merit bonus because, ahem, this was supposed to be last year's raise, and we start bargaining the next contract immediately, including the raise for this year.

Our team had two problems with the USF Administration proposal. First of all, since only a minority of UFF USF employees get discretionary raises, most people rely on merit raises. Since there was no merit raise in 2012 – 2013, and the Administration proposed no merit raise for 2014 – 2015, the effect of the Administration's proposal would be a single 2.5 % merit raise over three years, which (compounded) is equivalent to three 0.83 % raises over three years.

Secondly, the 2.5 % raise was supposed to be last year's raise. As our Chief Negotiator observed, by putting off the raise from 7 August 2013 (when the new contract's raise should have come into effect) to late April 2014 (when the raise proposed by the USF Administration would have come into effect), the USF Administration was saving money: according to the employee list provided to UFF in January, with 487 12-month in-unit employees earning $ 40.0 million and 1,171 9-month in-unit employees earning $ 95.3 million, putting off the raise would save the Administration just over $ 2.9 million. That's a little more than the bonus USF faculty and professionals earned for USF last year for high performance standards.

(Again, the UFF Bargaining Team has just sent out a letter regarding the last bargaining session.)

Nevertheless, we remain optimistic that the USF Administration and the Board will realize the necessity for adequately compensating USF faculty and professionals for the work we do.

Cutting retirement

As we have all heard repeatedly, the Legislature is worried about the financial soundness of the Florida Retirement System (FRS). What we haven't heard as much is that the Legislature is deliberately creating the problem. We looked at the Florida Retirement System's web-page of past contribution rates and got the following chart of past funding into the retirement system. The vertical axis is the amount contributed, as a percentage of our salary.


The black is what the FRS thinks is a prudent total contribution, the brown is the total contribution from employers and employees. The red is the liability resulting from the total contribution falling below what the FRS regards as prudent. Meanwhile, the blue is what the employer (i.e. the state) contributes, and the green is what we contribute.

Notice that before Rick Scott was elected governor, the state paid all contributions, and the amount paid was the amount the FRS recommended. Since Scott's election, we have paid more, and yet the state contribution plummeted so far that the fund is now only 75 % funded. For those of us on the Optional Retirement Plan, that means that the contributions to the plan are much lower, making the lump sum payout upon retirement much smaller. An ORP participant who wishes to bring their plan back up to where it was would have to pay an additional 2.19 % of their salary this year. And unless something is done, it will only get worse in years to come.

The Legislature and your textbooks

With higher education in the crosshairs, it was bound to happen sooner or later: the Legislature wants to regulate textbook choice. Florida State Senator Anita Flores, R-Miami-Dade, has presented a Postsecondary Education Textbook and Instructional Materials Affordability bill (Senate Bill 530) that would, among other things, require "[t]hat a textbook or instructional material for an undergraduate course shall remain in use for a minimum of 3 years in that undergraduate course unless an exception is approved by the institution's president or designee." See lines 112 - 123; legislators seem to think that this would affect only selection of successive editions of texts, and not bury President Genshaft (or unhappy designee) in mounds of requests for exceptions for upper division courses.

This bill may be a trial balloon. If it is successful - by legislators' standards of success - there may be more invasive legislation proposed next year.

LOGISTICS

No Chapter Meeting tomorrow. The next Chapter Meeting is next week Friday, April 25, at 12 noon on USF Sarasota / Manatee in a room TBD.

All UFF USF employees -- both UFF members and non-members alike -- are invited for sandwiches, chips, and soda pop.

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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