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UFF Biweekly
United Faculty of Florida -- USF System Chapter
24 March 2016
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Chapter Meeting Tomorrow on USF Sarasota / Manatee in A217

The UFF USF Chapter will meet tomorrow, Friday, at 12 noon in room A217 on USF Sarasota / Manatee. Everyone is invited to the Chapter Meeting tomorrow. There will be sandwiches, chips, sweets, and drinks. Two particular items on the agenda:

  • Tie-breaking. In the election for representatives of the UFF USF Chapter in the UFF Senate and FEA Assembly, there were ties. The ties will be broken by lot at the chapter meeting tomorrow.
  • The theme is job security. In addition to our regular business, we will discuss job security issues, including tenure. The Grievance Chair will make a presentation on Article 12 on Non-Reappointment in the Collective Bargaining Agreement.
The Chapter will continue to meet on alternate Fridays. On April 8 and April 22, we will meet at 12 noon in EDU 314 on USF Tampa. Come and check us out.

Welcoming Spring Social this Evening

USF graduate assistants are throwing a party this Thursday evening 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 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.


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).

Grievance workshops. 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. All USF faculty and professionals are invited, and UFF members are especially asked to bring a colleague.

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.


Job Security - and Sick Leave

The UFF USF Chapter is experimenting with themes: every other meeting focuses on a different issue or cluster of issues that affect us. Tomorrow's chapter meeting focuses on job security, which is a cluster of issues ranging from getting tenure, protecting academic freedom (especially, recently, from political forces outside of academia), pennywise (and pound-foolish) dismissals, and more. But first, since we all are mortal, a reminder:

  • Sick Leave. Sick leave is a subject that many of us want to avoid almost as much as funeral arrangements, but April is sick leave month. Prudence and self-preservation suggest that each of us consider it. For details, whether you want to see them or not, see below or click here.
Then returning to our theme:
  • From Wisconsin to Florida State. Academic freedom - versus responsiveness to ideological fashion as defined by politicians - is not the only battleground for tenure and academic job security. There is also the need for "flexibility." For recent developments, see below or click here.
  • Limits to Reorganization. In the corporate world, one way of dumping people is reorganizing their organizational unit out of existence. Since there is a potential that something like that might be tried here, we take a brief look the roles of the union and the faculty governance system. For more, see below or click here.
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. In keeping with this week's theme, tomorrow Friday he will discuss Article 12 on Non-Reappointment.

Meanwhile, 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. All USF faculty and professionals are invited, and UFF members are especially asked to bring a colleague.

Sick Leave

Sick leave is not something that we want to think about, but since life is what happens while we make other plans, it is dangerous to wait until something happens. Like other unions, UFF has bargained sick leave, and according to Section 17.8 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, each employee gradually collects sick leave, which is available when the employee needs it.

For most people, this is enough, but if a catastrophic illness eats up all an employee's sick leave, then what? We saw an example last fall, when a staff member ran out of sick leave fighting cancer. USF runs a program (in the contract) in which eligible employees join a sick leave pool and contribute some of their sick leave to it. If a member of the pool then needs sick leave, hours in the pool are available. But the pool is like insurance: sick leave hours in the pool are not available to non-members of the pool.

USF employees may only join the pool during April. For more information, see the sick leave pool page.

From Wisconsin to Florida State

A university runs by personal relationships extending over time. That point was underlined by the recent Gallup Purdue report that found, among other things, that alumni valued their education most if they had a good faculty mentor. In addition, the faculty who do the teaching and scholarship have a greater stake in a program that they had a hand in creating, which means faculty-institution relations extending over time. A sideways glance at the relatively miserable performance of the for-profits in the Gallup Purdue report suggest that treating educators like interchangeable widgets does not produce customer satisfaction - much less a sound education by more traditional measures.

And yet the interchangeable widget view of education is becoming increasingly popular among academic board members. In abolishing continuing contracts for new hires and in restricting the applicability of tenure the boards of the State College of Florida and the University of Wisconsin, respectively, stressed the need for "flexibility" in responding to market changes.

While some board members may be interested in eliminating academic freedom, much of this may be driven by the view that everyone in the institution (except, of course, board members and senior administrators) are interchangeable widgets in a vast machine that can be run remotely by a small clique of experts. At the moment, the machine does not exist and there are no real experts for running it, so we have to educate the boards about the realities on the ground.

Limits to Reorganization

One way to lose one's job is to be in an organizational unit that is reorganized out of existence. Since management is supposed to manage, during bargaining management insists on protecting its right to reorganize. But since reorganization has job security implications, unions insist on protecting employee rights in the process. The result is compromise.

This is not an abstract concern as USF St. Petersburg is considering reorganizing Environmental Science, Policy, and Geography Department out of existence. The Administration circulated a proposal, and the department responded by challenging the proposal's data and methodology (see also a ppt presentation). The proposal is now being considered by faculty bodies, and this may be a good time to remind everyone about the role of the union - and the role of the shared faculty governance system.

The Union. The primary concerns of UFF are the welfare of USF employees and the terms and conditions of their employment. That includes employees being demoted or dismissed due to reorganization. So while the contract says, in Article 4, that "The USF Board of Trustees retains and reserves to itself the rights, powers, and authority vested in it, including the right to plan, manage, and control the University of South Florida...," it also says that the authority of the Board is limited by the contract.

Such limitations can include organizational units. In 2010, UFF won an arbitration case against the University of Florida when UF created new units and then laid people off in those units. Months later, UFF won a similar case against FSU. These precedents suggest that sometimes the USF Board may not be able to create an organizational unit and then dump its employees.

(Shared) Faculty Governance. The union is not the only faculty organization involved. The contract and tradition both provide for shared faculty governance, and while the union is concerned primarily with terms and conditions of employment, the faculty governance system is concerned primarily with academics. It is the job of the web of committees, councils, and senates making up the faculty governance system to vet organizational proposals. That means more than just the union-type question of whether procedures were followed. It is also the academic question of whether the proposal makes sense, whether it a good idea, whether it is too much or too little, and so on.

So while UFF is watching the ESPG proposal go through the process, it is the committees, councils, and senates whose job it is to investigate what is going on (and the lack of consensus about ESPG suggests that such an investigation would be prudent) and decide what to do about it - assuming that the situation requires doing something about it. Robert Heinlein once remarked that democracy meant that the people were responsible for the actions (or inactions) of their government. These faculty bodies are how we the faculty share the government of our university, and it is up to us to make sure that the university is not only following procedure, but making wise decisions.


Chapter Meeting tomorrow Friday, March 25, at on USF Sarasota / Manatee, in A 217.

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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