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UFF Biweekly
United Faculty of Florida -- USF System Chapter
10 March 2016
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UFF (Faculty Union) Biweekly on Grievances and Grievance Workshops

Last Call for Ballots in the Chapter Election

Chapter elections are underway, and UFF members are voting for officers and representatives. All ballots are due (in our hands) by tomorrow, Friday, March 11. You may turn in your ballot at the Chapter Meeting tomorrow (see below). For more information, see the Election 2016 page.

The ballots will be counted on Monday, March 14, in the Services Building (SVC) breezeway outside our new office in SVC 2057A. Everyone is invited to come watch.

Chapter Meeting Tomorrow on USF Tampa

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 continue to meet on alternate Fridays. On Friday, March 25, the Chapter will meet on USF Sarasota / Manatee, and threats to job security will be on the agenda. On April 8 and April 22, we will again meet at 12 noon in EDU 314 on USF Tampa. Come and check us out.

Welcoming Spring Social on March 24

USF graduate assistants are throwing a party on Thursday, March 24 from 6 pm to 7:30 pm at Mr. Dunderbak's Biergarten & Brewery at 14929 Bruce B. Downs Blvd., and they have invited USF faculty and graduate students. So come celebrate the fifth day of spring.

$ 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; see also the main article (left).

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.

USF Grant Writing Workshops

The USF Tampa College of Arts & Sciences is continuing its workshops on writing grant proposals. One on Negotiating The Sea Of Competition: Compelling & Persuasive Grant Writing will be on April 1; another will be the NIH Workshop on May 13. Each will be from noon to 2:30 pm. Click here for more information.


Grievances and Grievance Workshops

A faculty union does many things, from providing a place for academics to meet to educating politicians. But it's primary legal mission is to bargain and enforce a contract. In this issue we focus on the grievance process.

  • About Grievances. A grievance is a complaint that the contract has been violated. The grievance process protects our contractual rights and privileges. But not all injustices and stupidities are grievable, and in pursuing a grievance, there are formalities that must be adhered to. For more, see below or click here.
Employees should know their own contract for their own protection. In particular, they should be aware of how the grievance process works. After all, an employee has thirty days from the time that they knew or should have known of a contractual violation to file a grievance; that implies a certain amount of being on ones' toes.

Our Grievance Chair, Dan Belgrad, has started a new practice of discussing a few sections of one article of the contract in each chapter meeting; tomorrow, Friday, he is planning on discussing Sections 8.4E and 9.4 on summer assignments and appointments.

And the USF Chapter will hold four successive workshops on various aspects of the grievance process on four successive Thursdays, March 24, March 31, April 7, and April 14, each one from 1:45 pm to 3 pm on USF Tampa in CPR 355. Alternatively, there will be an all-day workshop on May 6 from from 10 am to 3 pm on USF St. Petersburg in USC 258 (the Palm Room). All USF faculty and professionals are invited, and UFF members are especially asked to bring a colleague.

Meanwhile, USF staff also have a union, and...

  • AFSCME and USF Board of Trustees at Impasse. AFSCME is the union representing USF staff, and they just declared impasse in bargaining. For more, see below or click here.

About Grievances

A contract is just a PDF file, and doesn't enforce itself. Human nature being what it is, a contract will erode away if it isn't enforced, and that's a union's job. Our contract, the 2014 - 2017 Collective Bargaining Agreement, provides an enforcement mechanism, the grievance process described in Article 20 (pages 56 - 62). The basic idea is that if an employee's contractual rights or privileges are violated, that employee may file a grievance, i.e. a formal complaint that the contract has been violated. The Administration must then address that grievance, and there is a process for doing that.

In addition, the UFF USF Chapter may itself file a grievance and pursue it through the same process.

The most important point is this: a grievance is a complaint that the contract has been violated. An injustice or a stupidity is not in itself a grievance; only a violation of the contract can make a grievance, and that grievance must identify what in the contract was violated. For example, Paragraph 14.2A requires that if material is added to a promotion packet during the promotion procedure, the employee must be informed within five days. So if an employee went up for promotion, and during one of the periodic reviews of the packet the employee discovered something was added, and the employee had not been informed, that employee may file a grievance - but the grievance must specify that Paragraph 14.2A has been violated.

And the clock is ticking. An employee has thirty days from the time she knew or should have known of the contract violation to file a grievance. Grievances have been turned down because they were late.

The grievance process starts with submitting the form on pages 89, 90 of the contract. An employee may represent herself, or she may hire a lawyer - and legal fees may run into the thousands of dollars. UFF members may be represented by UFF for free - and UFF has experience with labor law that many lawyers do not. However, since UFF representation is backed by UFF's lawyers - who cost a lot, and who are paid for by union dues from UFF members - UFF does not represent non-members in grievances. Specifically, UFF will not represent an employee who was not a member at the time of the contract violation.

Returning to the grievance process, the complaint launches Step 1, which is an informal attempt to resolve the grievance. Because a grievance must be filed within thirty days, employees are strongly advised to file the grievance and then seek informal resolution of a problem. Often this does the trick, but if not...

If Step 1 does not resolve the problem, the grievant may move to Step 2, which is more formal. There is a hearing where the grievant (or the grievant's representative) presents the grievant's case. The hearing is before a university representative, usually someone from the central administration, who issues a decision.

Incidentally, a hearing before someone from the central administration is not as odd as it might sound. A surprising number of grievances result from middle management (chairs, deans, etc.) who are ignorant of or indifferent to the contract. A stream of grievances from a particular academic unit tells the central administration something about that unit's leadership.

Returning to Step 2, hopefully Step 2 resolves the issue. If not, and if both the grievant and UFF want to pursue the matter, they can request arbitration. UFF and the USF Administration select a neutral arbitrator, who hears the case and makes a binding decision, within limits (an arbitrator may not, for example, decide that the USF Board of Trustees must grant tenure to someone).

This system is not ideal, but it is the system that has evolved from decades of both sides agreeing to this compromise.

An employee who would like assistance can always contact the United Faculty of Florida. In particular, if an employee faces a meeting, or is in a meeting, that looks like it is leading towards disciplinary action, that employee may ask for a UFF representative to be present (if this means that the issue must be postponed to a subsequent meeting, so be it). To contact the UFF USF Grievance Committee, one may contact the Grievance Committee or the Grievance Committee chair or send an email to UFF USF - which can be done by pressing "reply" to a Biweekly.

AFSCME and USF Board of Trustees at Impasse

USF staff are represented by the Association of Federal, State, County, and Municipal Employees, which like UFF is affiliated with the AFL-CIO. They bargain and enforce contracts with the USF Board of Trustees. In bargaining, AFSCME represents the staff and the USF Administration represents the USF Board of Trustees.

In bargaining a new contract (or a reopener in a current contract), if bargaining gets stalled then one or the other side may declare impasse. This means that the two sides agree on a Special Magistrate, who hears arguments from both sides and recommends a compromise.

On February 26, AFSCME declared impasse. In their announcement to the USF community, AFSCME wrote that:
The BOT had proposed the equivalent of a 2 % wage increase and the establishment of a minimum wage. However, their wage proposal also included multiple limitations on eligibility, unacceptably eliminating workers from receiving any benefit at all. The BOT team ultimately changed nothing from their original proposal after hearing repeated objections and also completely rejected the Union's two other proposals, one seeking the reestablishment of a donated sick leave program, and the other seeking parity with the other unions on campus, all of whom are awarded leave time during work hours for their officers to resolve worker/management issues.
In addition, AFSCME saw no movement towards expanding access to the sick leave pool (which opens next month!) nor raises.

Impasse is a tricky process, and we wish the staff well. After all, they are the ones who keep the lights on, and the laborer is worthy of his reward.


Chapter Meeting tomorrow Friday, March 11, 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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