We are two weeks into a new year, hopefully with a sizable proportion of our New Years' Resolutions still intact, and we are looking forward to another term of teaching, research, and service, not to mention union and faculty senate issues (and elections!), and of course the legislature will be legislating. In this issue...
And the UFF USF Grievance Committee wishes to remind you that under Article 8.4E(1) of the Collective Bargaining Agreement (see page 12), "Available supplemental summer appointments shall be offered equitably and as appropriate to qualified employees..." If you are unfairly passed over for a summer teaching appointment, your contractual rights may have been violated: contact your friendly neighborhood Grievance Committee.
A Smoke-Free Campus.
Tobacco smoking is a major to dominant risk factor for cancers of the bladder, esophagus, larynx, lungs, mouth, and pancreas, as well as Crohn's disease, emphysema, heart attacks, obstructive pulmonary disease, strokes - and compromising fetal brain development. Tobacco smoke contains nearly a hundred toxins, including arsenic, benzene, carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, and of course, nicotine. Nicotine is quite toxic (one gram is probably lethal - a typical cigarette delivers about 2 milligrams) and physically addictive; since it is used as a stimulant, it also induces a psychological dependency in habitual users.
Worse, the "second hand smoke" exhaled by smokers contains significant amounts of second hand toxins, to which some people - particularly pregnant women, youngsters, people with compromised pulmonary systems, and some people with allergies - are vulnerable. (There is also a growing concern about "third hand smoke", i.e., fumes from tobacco smoke deposits on furniture, clothes, car interiors, etc.)
Anti-smoking campaigns go back at least to King James I's Counterblaste to Tobacco of 1604: his solution was to tax the stuff. During the Twentieth century, concerns about second hand smoke inspired prohibitions against smoking in enclosed spaces.
Many people start smoking while young, and there is some evidence that prohibiting smoking in the workplace and at school (and taxing the stuff) discourages youngsters from smoking. Hence the growing popularity of "smoke free zones," and not just in enclosed spaces. Effective this semester, the entire USF Tampa campus is a smoke free zone.
This is all very well, but America's experience with Prohibition suggests we think this through carefully and watch for unintended consequences. For example, who does this policy apply to? According to the proposed policy it applies to "faculty, staff, students, vendors, and visitors" (how about administrators and trustees?) And how is this policy to be enforced? Several administrators have said that they will rely on social pressure, but the proposed policy says that "Any student who repeatedly refuses to abide by the policy may be considered in violation of the Student Code of Conduct and will be handled accordingly. Repeat violations by any faculty or staff member will be handled through normal University processes."
So there are (unspecified) sanctions, and that raises problems. Tampa campus is quite large, and now smokers must go off campus for a smoke. That can pose problems, especially for someone who doesn't have a car. And where off-campus might smokers congregate? And what does the Administration propose to do about those faculty, staff, students, vendors, and visitors who muff the logistics?
We observe that USF provides some resources for people who want to quit - and many people do want to quit, for health and budget reasons. And the United Faculty of Florida encourages smokers to take advantage of these resources (this is the season for New Year's resolutions, after all). But we remind the Administration of the greater effectiveness of reward over punishment - and of the dismal example of Prohibition - and suggest that perhaps the Board of Trustees should explore alternatives to sanctions.
Yes, the Legislature is in Session
The Legislature opened two days ago and will no doubt be providing us with much entertainment this coming session - but hopefully less than last year. Up front and center is House Bill 4001 (Licenses to Carry Concealed Weapons or Firearms: Removes provision prohibiting concealed carry licensees from openly carrying handgun or carrying concealed weapon or firearm into college or university facility); this bill may go to the floor any day now, and if you have any views on this legislation, you can communicate them to Florida House Speaker Steve Crisafulli; remember to use your personal phone or computer, not a state machine, when contacting politicians.
Other upcoming issues include another shortfall in medical funding, gambling and water bills, tax cuts for deserving corporations, funds for charter schools (Governor Scott has just proposed that each public shool get $ 21,000 for construction and capital costs while each charter school gets $ 110,000), class size, and possibly even another whack at our retirement funds. Meanwhile, next week Wednesday the Florida Education Association will conduct a Day of Action to publicize education issues.
Political junkies may be interested to know that at tomorrow's UFF USF Chapter Meeting we will be organizing a Political Junkies Anony...er...Political Activities Committee to assist the union in tracking and educating politicians. Anyone interested in or obsessed with politics is invited to the Chapter Meeting, tomorrow Friday, 12 noon, at CDB Restaurant at 5104 E. Fowler Ave. in Temple Terrace, just east of USF Tampa at the intersection of E. Fowler Ave. and 51st Street.
Meanwhile, with the primary coming in March, it's time to register to vote (if you haven't already): to register, update your registration information, or check your voter status, visit the Florida Division of Elections.
One of the longstanding complaints about people coming in sick is that they spread their germs around. But during the last decade or so, management experts have proposed that employees who come to work sick are less productive than those who stay home to recover. Twelve years ago, the Harvard Business Review reported that coming to work sick "appears to cost companies substantially more than they spend directly on medical treatment and drugs," although the Review added the caveat that many such studies, "though conducted by academics or health management consultants, are proposed and funded by pharmaceutical companies hoping to show that certain medications are worth paying for because they will increase worker productivity by ameliorating symptoms of illness."
Recently, another study suggested that "presenteeism" - coming to work sick - was behind 60 % of all productivity losses, and some news accounts of the study observed that two fifths of all American workers do not have sick leave. (Yet another thing unions are good for.) One expert told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that employee health needs "...to be managed so you do not burn people out physically and abuse them and create problems."