UFF Biweekly EXTRA
United Faculty of Florida -- USF System Chapter
23 April 2014
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Chapter Meeting Friday at USF Sarasota / Manatee
The UFF USF Chapter will meet this Friday, April 25, at 12 noon, on USF Sarasota / Manatee in room B336. For directions to USF Sarasota / Manatee, 8350 N. Tamiami Trail in Sarasota, here is a link to the Google map. There will be sandwiches, chips, and soda pop, and all UFF USF employees - UFF members and non-members - are invited to attend. And bring a friend!
$ 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.
A proposal for a travel scholarship should be a 100 - 200 word description of what the travel is for. It should be related to research, teaching, or service. It may be emailed to our email account or to the Chapter Secretary, or even sent by campus mail to 30238 USF Holly Drive, although the proposal must be in our hands by May 1.
- 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.
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.
USF Administration Declares Impasse
On Monday, the USF Administration - which represents the USF Board of Trustees - sent a Letter to the USF Community announcing that it was declaring impasse.
What is supposed to happen in impasse is that the two bargaining teams agree on a Special Magistrate who will hear the points of controversy and then propose a compromise.
The United Faculty of Florida was disappointed but not taken by surprise. USF seems to wind up in impasse a lot lately, and in fact the USF Administration declared impasse during the 2010 negotiations with UFF (see the old Bargaining Page for a brief account with links). And impasse came up repeatedly during this round of bargaining. (And bargaining with AFSCME - the staff union - was also in impasse.) Our Bargaining Team made it clear that it was bargaining defensively just in case the USF Administration decided to declare impasse: President Genshaft has referred to the new normal, and the UFF Bargaining Team saw the gathering clouds of the New Abnormal and made it clear that UFF was prepared for impasse. As a result, UFF believes that the USF Administration was ill-advised to declare impasse.
But the letter itself was surprising.
Whatever the position of the USF Administration, the UFF regards the Special Magistrate as more than a formality. If the Special Magistrate hears both sides and presents a compromise, both sides should take that proposal seriously.
- It was not surprising that the Administration complained that "UFF rejects" a nominal salary increase this year while not mentioning that the USF Administration proposed a merit raise this year and no merit raise next year. And as for the lucky few who would have gotten discretionary raises, there would be only a mean 1 % discretionary raise for two years (or 0.5 % for each year). Even then, the Administration did not "commit" to actually distributing all this 1 % in discretionary raises. UFF felt that the offer was inadequate and certainly did not address USF's faculty retention problem.
- What was surprising was the Administration's dismissive view of the Special Magistrate (remember, selected by both sides, hearing both sides, proposing a compromise?). The Administration seems to anticipate the compromise being rejected and, as their letter reads, "The impasse will be ultimately resolved at a hearing before the Board of Trustees Labor Committee, which serves as the Legislative Body." Well, how does the Administration know that the compromise will be rejected?
Bargaining may, and hopefully will, continue during impasse. It is not clear what the Administration wants - while their 2010 Letter of Impasse focussed on two articles, the current Letter of Impasse is not specific. (For an idea of what our priorities are, look at our January 31 proposal, which the USF Administration rejected but is still on the table in case they want to pick it up.) We hope that we can get a contract without a whole lot of litigation.
Recent developments in UFF's endeavor to bargain an equitable contract:
The coming months will be the time for faculty and professionals to stand up for themselves. Impasse is a legal and political affair, and that means that employees must get involved. Come to the UFF USF Chapter Meetings, where our Chief Negotiator presents bargaining reports. The next UFF USF Chapter meeting is this Friday, April 25, at 12 noon, on USF Sarasota / Manatee in room B336. The following one is on Friday, May 2, at 12 noon, on USF Tampa in room EDU 316. There will be sandwiches, chips, and soda pop. All faculty and professionals - UFF members and otherwise - are welcome. Bring a colleague.
- The Oracle's April 22 article on the declaration of impasse.
- The USF Administration's Letter of Impasse and their Letter to the USF Community.
- The second letter from the UFF USF Bargaining Team entitled Vidi, Veni, Vici, but beginning with: "Unfortunately, it was only VENI and VIDI at the collective bargaining session on April 11, 2014. There was no VICI as the employees were dealt "a low blow" and then a "sucker punch" by the USF/BOT collective bargaining team, which exhibited "bad manners" (a new collective bargaining term) by again making proposals that again amounted to "poison pills" and that again "marginalize" the salary and benefits of the underpaid and under-appreciated employees..."
- The April 15 Oracle Article quoted UFF Executive Director Ed Mitchell, who told the Oracle that 'he has witnessed several other Florida universities' bargaining sessions' and that: "No other university has put an offer on the table this low."
- The April 10 Oracle Article quoted UFF USF Chief Negotiator Bob Welker saying, "There's no financial crisis ... (The university) said (it) had $8 million, so where’s the beef? You talk a good game, but let's put the money where the words are."
- The April 1 Letter from the UFF USF Bargaining Team, which began by stating that "The United Faculty of Florida (UFF) Collective Bargaining Team was surprised and disappointed with President Genshaft’s e-mail," and concluded, "The UFF Collective Bargaining Team will continue to bargain in good faith in an attempt to obtain a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). It will not, however, adopt a policy of 'Peace at any price'."
- The March 28 UFF USF Biweekly Extra on Bargaining warned that "President Genshaft's use of the word 'impasse' has legal significance" and that "President Genshaft is correct in asserting that all this would take time." The Biweekly then observed Genshaft's concern about the delay in raises, and suggested that she consider instructing the USF Administration Team to make the raises retroactive to August, 2013.
- President Genshaft's March 26 Letter to the USF Community contained the curious statement that "... it now looks as though we are moving to impasse proceedings." Curious because entering impasse requires that one party declare impasse. Considering that the USF Administration Team declared impasse in the 2010 negotiations, Genshaft's letter was disturbing.
The state office of the United Faculty of Florida is ... educating ... legislators about the consequences of their proposed legislation. Here are some updates.
The UFF office in Tallahassee is watching these and other items.
- House Bill 7173 and Senate Bill 1114 encourage new hires to choose the IRA-like Investment plan for retirement. Since the Defined Benefits Plan relies on stable recruitment, this may undermine that plan over time.
- UFF (statewide) president Tom Auxter told the Chronicle of Higher Education that faculty have been calling state senators to express their concern about Senate Bill 530. As described in the last Biweekly, this law would lock each college text of each course into place for three years. Auxter said that "Our idea is that we actually take our cutting-edge research into the classroom ... We don’t want to have obsolete research be in effect for three years at a cutting-edge university." As a result of UFF lobbying with grassroots support, some of the law's language has been watered down. And UFF is still pushing for reforms that will not undermine our students' education or faculty members' academic freedom.
- House Bill 7157 limiting health care benefits (our health insurance benefits come from the state). Despite our serious reservations about the bill, we can't help observing that one stack of "reforms" begins with the line: "The department may establish and direct, with respect to collective bargaining issues, a comprehensive package of ..." Anyway, the state office of UFF warns that "It is hard to retain faculty when benefits are cut and salaries are reduced."
- Senate Bill 318 provides an exemption from public disclosure laws for boards when discussing donations, and Senate Bill 728 and House Bill 135 provide exemptions for boards vetting candidates for college / university presidents.
Next chapter Meeting on Friday, April 25, at 12 noon in B336 on USF Sarasota / Manatee.
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 email@example.com.
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