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UFF Biweekly
United Faculty of Florida -- USF System Chapter
11 February 2016
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Chapter Meeting Tomorrow on USF St. Petersburg: We Will Discuss the Proposed Reorganization of Arts & Sciences

The UFF USF Chapter will meet tomorrow, Friday, at 12 noon on USF St. Petersburg in the University Student Center's Regatta Room (USC 150F). Tomorrow's agenda includes the proposed reorganization of USF St. Petersburg's College of Arts & Sciences.

See the map of St. Petersburg downtown and the map of the USF St. Petersburg campus: the University Student Center is at the intersection of 2nd Street South and 6th Avenue South. 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. February 26, March 11, April 8 and April 22, we will meet in EDU 314. 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 professainl 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.


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.


St. Pete and Gainesville

In this issue we get down to union brass tacks. Keeping your job and maybe even getting raises. Here are two current events concerning these basics.

  • St. Pete's College of Arts and Sciences Department Reorganization Proposal. Suppose that there is a department in an important area, but it is not performing as desired. What do you do? The proposal is...dissolve the department and start over. For more, see below or click here.
  • Getting Raises at Gainesville. The University of Florida has just reminded us that bargaining is a power play - and that an administration that serves at the pleasure of a board of trustees will not stray too far from what that board wants. For a reality check, see below or click here.
Meanwhile, the Chapter is holding elections for its officers and representatives this term, and all nominations must be received by February 19. Everyone who is a UFF member by February 19 is eligible to participate by voting and running, but only UFF members may participate. See the announcement in the left column for details.

St. Pete's College of Arts and Sciences Department Reorganization Proposal

On January 29, members of the Environmental Science, Policy, and Geography department at USF St. Petersburg were advised of an Administration proposal to "restructure the current departmental configuration within the College of Arts and Sciences," primarily by dissolving the department. According to the proposal, "Faculty within the current ... Department may request a transfer to another appropriate department subject to approval by ... [that other] department." One gets the impression that faculty not so approved should update their resumes.

Several programs have been terminated recently, largely because of metrics. This appears to be no exception: the number of undergraduate students has fallen by almost two-thirds, and graduate students are taking too long to get their masters'. However, the ESPG program was still quite productive; on the other hand, there were a number of other (academic) complaints about the program.

The rationale for dissolving the department is..."to strengthen its degree programs" in that area. The proposal implies but does not explicitly state that this means starting over: "This change has the potential to provide a significantly more positive environment for the growth of the environmental sciences programs in St. Petersburg, under new leadership, and with a revised governance structure." And, considering that the current faculty in the department will be leaving for elsewhere in the college or elsewhere, period, that would mean the new program would have new faculty as well.

Under the principles of shared faculty governance, mentioned in Section 5.4 of Collective Bargaining Agreement, a reorganization for academic reasons should be the business of the faculty senate. Indeed the proposal follows the procedure outlined in USF's policy on Proposed Changes to Academic Units, which gives all stakeholders a chance to object to a new policy before it is implemented. There does not seem to be a procedural problem.

There are still two issues. First of all, dissolving a department in order to replace its leadership (and, apparently, much of its personnel) is an extraordinary step and dangerous precedent with clear implications for academic freedom and the integrity (and credibility) of the institution. Following on this line, it is a rather drastic step that one would suppose would have been preceded by progressive measures: after all, if the department's leadership was the issue, one can replace that leadership without dissolving the department.

Second, if faculty are being forced out because of a "reorganization of academic or administrative structures, programs, or functions; or curtailment or abolition of one or more programs or functions," Article 13 of Collective Bargaining Agreement governs such layoffs, and the proposal does not seem to be composed with the contract in mind.

Dissolving a productive department in a field that the university wants a department in is a radical step. There are times when an appropriate reaction is to stop and think things through.

Getting Raises at Gainesville

At a Florida university, the United Faculty of Florida (representing faculty and professionals) bargains with the university administration (representing the board of trustees). While we would like reasoning and compromise, sometimes there are power plays. Recent bargaining at the University of Florida shows what can happen - and serves as a reminder that the administration represents (and serves) its board of trustees.

Last summer, with the UF Administration rejecting union proposals for a 4 % cost of living raise (both sides agreed on a 2.5 % merit raise) and the Administration being unwilling to give its reasons, the union declared "impasse". That means that UFF asked the Public Employees Relations Commission (PERC) to send a neutral Special Magistrate (chosen from a list both sides approved) to propose a compromise.

The Special Magistrate proposed that the University of Florida Administration (i.e. the board that the Administration represents) accept a 2.75 % cost-of-living raise, stating that the university had the resources. UFF promptly agreed with the compromise.

But the UF Administration did not agree, and UF President Kent Fuchs sent a letter to the UF trustees saying that the university did not have the money for the raise. The Board then rejected the Special Magistrate's compromise entirely and imposed their solution: no cost of living raise at all (see pages 76 - 79).

This is the reality check: the administration represents the board in bargaining, and if there is impasse, the special magistrate's proposal goes before that board, which then imposes its own solution. It is not clear how legal this practice is, but changing it would require very serious litigation. Since the boards are being appointed by the governor, the legislative leadership, and people already appointed by the governor and the legislature, and since a university administration serves at the pleasure of its board, this is a reminder of how tricky and complex bargaining can be.

It is also a reminder (during this election year) that elections have consequences.


Chapter Meeting tomorrow Friday, February 12, at on USF St. Petersburg, in USC 150F.

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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