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UFF Biweekly
United Faculty of Florida -- USF System Chapter
28 January 2016
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Chapter Meeting Tomorrow on USF Tampa in EDU 314

The UFF USF Chapter will meet tomorrow, Friday, at 12 noon in EDU 314 on USF Tampa. Everyone is invited to the Chapter Meeting tomorrow. There will be sandwiches, chips, sweets, and drinks. Come and join the movement.

The Chapter will meet on alternate Fridays this term. On January 29, February 26, March 11, April 8 and April 22, we will meet in EDU 314. On February 12, we will meet on USF St. Petersburg in USC 150F; on March 25, we will meet on USF Sarasota / Manatee in a room TBD. And, as always, there will be sandwiches, chips, sweets, and drinks. Come and check us out.

Call for Nominations

The USF Chapter of the United Faculty of Florida is a democracy, and this spring it is time for members to elect officers and representatives. Only UFF members may run and / or vote in this election: you must join UFF by February 19 in order to participate in the election.

The Election Committee has issued a Call for Nominations stating that all nominations must be received by February 19. The four elective offices are the President, Vice President, Secretary, and Treasurer. In addition, we will elect a slate of senators for the (statewide) United Faculty of Florida Senate, and we will elect a slate of delegates for the Florida Education Association.

Please download, fill in, and email the Nomination form (an rtf file) to the UFF USF Chapter Election Committee; all nominators will receive a receipt within 24 hours. Self-nominations are encouraged.

$ 500 Travel Grants for UFF Members

The USF Chapter of the UFF will award six $ 500 Travel Scholarships for summer and fall. This will be for travel for participation in a professional activity. All applications are due by April 21, and only UFF members are eligible. The six recipients shall be selected by lot at the April 22 chapter meeting. For more information, see the Travel Scholarship Flyer.

This initiative is part of our membership campaign. If you would like to become active in the UFF USF Membership Drive, contact the Membership Chair, Adrienne Berarducci (click here).

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. 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.

Visit Us on Facebook

Visit the United Faculty of Florida at USF Facebook page. This page is a place where UFF members can exchange thoughts and ideas. The page is "public", but only dues-paying UFF members are eligible to post items on the page. If you are a UFF member, ask to join on the page, or contact the Communications Committee. The Committee will invite every UFF member that asks to join. So check us out. UFF members are welcome to join, and non-members are welcome to look.

IN THIS ISSUE

Academia and Bargaining

The Legislature is in session. The senate bill on Licenses to Carry Concealed Weapons or Firearms appears dead...for now. Meanwhile, the Legislature is considering more tweaks in "performance funding," fee waivers for graduate students, what textbooks we can assign in classes, and health insurance. We will be watching Tallahassee, because they are always up to something. Meanwhile, in this issue...

  • The State of Academia. One of the most common laments these days is about the "corporatization" of the academy. This lament is actually about a number of phenomena, some new (like the growing emphasis on metrics) and some ancient (like pressures on the academy to conform to the values of the surrounding community), but mostly it is about corporations throwing their weight around. For more, see below or click here.
  • Bargaining Update ... and a Reminder about the Legislature. Yes, we are bargaining. But may be a while, and the likely reason is a reminder that we should take the Legislature seriously. For more, see below or click here.
And our Membership Committee would like to remind everyone that we will be running the Travel Scholarship program again this term. UFF will award six $ 500 grants to UFF members who apply by April 21; the winners will be selected at the April 22 meeting by lot. All applicants must be members by April 21 to be eligible. For details, see the announcement in the left column.

The State of Academia.

Scholars are literate, erudite, and outspoken, so it is no surprise that lamentations and jeremiads over the state of academia form an ancient literary genre. Recently, academia has become an issue in presidential campaigns, and as Missouri wrestles with racial tensions, Illinois drowns in red ink, and random faculty get in trouble for indiscreet tweets, academics may feel a bit as if they are under fire.

One major complaint is the penetration of academia by large corporations. Corporations have expanded or created academic programs using donations - with strings attached. Corporations have even created ersatz academies to produce white papers and train senior functionaries. Corporations have also lobbied and distributed campaign contributions to politicians to undermine the independence of the academy.

One interpretation of all this features a memorandum by corporate lawyer (and later Supreme Court justice) Lewis Powell, which he sent to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in 1971. American capitalism is under attack, wrote Powell, and he suggested a vague multi-pronged counter-attack against capitalism's enemies. It says something about the hyperventilation of that era that Powell saw capitalism's leading enemy to be Ralph Nader.

This interpretation is that some of America's (corporate) leadership took Powell's advice and ran with it. For example, Debra Leigh Scott's How Higher Education in the US Was Destroyed in 5 Basic Steps argues that in persuading politicians to defund education while persuading Americans that education is a private - not public - good, corporations made academia more dependent on private donors who could then determine where resources would go. Hence the push for STEM investment (except possibly for climate research, pollution research, that sort of thing), eviscerating academic freedom (including the increasing reliance on non-tenured faculty), and the privatization of financial aid.

A slightly different interpretation is that during the 1970s, many people reacted to the 1960s by getting organized. That included the business community, which became more active politically which made lobbyists and think tanks more necessary (or, at least, better at selling themselves to corporations), and gradually politics became as much a part of business as advertizing. Meanwhile, as colleges and universities saved money by using cheap labor, academics did not get organized. (And Labor rested on its laurels as union membership peaked and began to decline.) Some of us got in the habit of thinking that someone ... out there, somewhere ... would look after us. And some of us became frustrated - and consequently disengaged - for as David Brooks recently observed, a feeling of frustrated powerlessness can lead to powerlessness. (This is one reason why the powerful do not mind people moaning about being powerless - as long as they don't do anything about it.)

"God helps them that help themselves" wrote Benjamin Franklin, and it is possible that in relying on the kindness of politicians, businesspeople, and other strangers, academics created a vacuum that opportunists could exploit. Getting our message out requires work: it doesn't happen by itself. Even on campus, our goal and ideal of shared faculty governance requires that we participate in the hard work of governing.

This spring, with the legislature in session and national elections in fall, with the UFF USF elections and USF faculty senate elections coming up, we ask everyone to come help push against the vacuum. For the UFF USF Chapter Elections, see the Call for Nominations in the left column (and the USF Tampa Faculty Senate will issue a Call for Nominations shortly).

Bargaining Update ... and a Reminder about the Legislature.

The United Faculty of Florida (representing YOU) and the USF Administration (representing the USF Board of Trustees) bargains a three-year contract roughly every three years, but every year, there is a "reopener" in which the UFF and the Administration bargain a few items in the current contract. Once the UFF and the Administration agree on the reopener, the UFF presents the reopener to the faculty and professionals of the UFF USF Bargaining Unit for approval ("ratification") and the Administration presents it to the Board of Trustees for their approval. Once ratified by both sides, the reopener comes into force.

The reopener includes the annual raises. Both sides have presented proposals for annual raises (the Administration proposed 1 % merit raises and 1 % discretionary raises while UFF proposed 4 % across-the-board plus a compression-inversion raise). And there may be up to four other items "opened" for bargaining.

We are talking about serious money, and in the past, bargaining on salaries has often waited on the Legislature's decision on how much money USF gets - and that's a decision made at the end of the legislative session in March.

So the good news is that bargaining is underway, but the bad news is that it is partially dependent on the Legislature, which made a hash out of the budget last year. Cross your fingers.

LOGISTICS

Chapter Meeting tomorrow Friday, January 29, at on USF Tampa, in EDU 314.

There will be sandwiches, chips, and drinks. 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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