United Faculty of Florida -- USF System Chapter
9 February 2017
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Chapter Meeting Tomorrow on USF St. Petersburg Campus
The UFF USF Chapter will meet tomorrow, Friday, at 12 noon on USF St. Petersburg in USC 150 (the Regatta Room). The agenda is posted online and includes:
Everyone is invited to the Chapter Meeting tomorrow. There will be sandwiches, fruit, sweets, and drinks. For people unfamiliar with the USF St. Petersburg campus, here is the campus map; notice the parking garage between 5th Ave. S. and 6th Ave. S. along 3rd Str. S., and notice that USC is just across 6th Ave. S. Come check us out.
- Harassment, class size, reorganization, and other campus issues.
- The UFF Senate. The primary policy-making body of the United Faculty of Florida is meeting over the the February 18 weekend.
- Washington, D.C. How recent developments affect us.
We have set up the schedule for the rest of the semester. We meet on alternate Fridays at 12 noon for lunch at union stuff:
We will also have a special meeting on March 31 in EDU 161 to count ballots. Come and join the movement.
- February 10 on USF St. Petersburg in USC 150.
- February 24 on USF Tampa in NES 104. We will focus on instructor issues at this meeting: all instructors - UFF members and non-members alike - are especially invited.
- March 10 on USF Tampa in EDU 161.
- March 24 on USF Sarasota / Manatee in A221.
- April 7 on USF Tampa in NES 104.
- April 21 on USF Tampa in EDU 161.
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.
$ 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 20, and only UFF members are eligible. In addition, no recipient of the Fall 2016 cycle of travel grants is eligible to apply. The six recipients shall be selected by lot at the April 20 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).
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.
IN THIS ISSUE
Legislatures Here and There ... and Immigration
USF is like a keystone species in an ecosystem: we feel the winds first. Dependent on many government agencies for our funds, and managed by many more, and with students and faculty who frequently need government cooperation and resources, USF is particularly vulnerable to reckless politics. And that is why UFF and our affiliates keep an eye on things. And at the moment, there are many things to keep an eye on.
Meanwhile, a reminder. The United Faculty of Florida is electing chapter officers and representatives. UFF bargains and enforces the contract between the Board of Trustees and the Faculty, but UFF is a volunteer organization, so your colleagues need YOU. Send in the Nomination form (and self-nominations are encouraged) to the Election Chair by March 3. Democracy is hard work...and if you don't use it, you lose it.
- The Florida Legislature. The Legislature is off to a galloping start, but with budget wars ahead, it is not clear how far it will get. For more, see below or click here.
- Tenure Elsewhere. Tenure does not appear to be on our Legislature's agenda (for now), but it is elswhere. For more, see below or click here.
- Meanwhile, Back in Washington... The Immigration "Ban" has hit academia. For details, see below or click here.
And a follow-up on an old story. The American Postal Workers Union was boycotting Staples because they were setting up ersatz mini-post offices inside Staples stores, effectively subcontracting postal services (to cheap, non-union labor). Staples and the union have resolved the issue, and the union is calling off the boycott.
The Florida Legislature
The Legislative session convenes on March 7, but the Legislature is already at work. As if yesterday, there were 1,166 bills in the hopper for the Florida House and 407 before the Senate. Interim Committees are meeting through much of February, and this pre-session season is when many of the backroom deals are made.
Meanwhile, Governor Scott proposed a budget that cuts taxes for businesses, freezes fees and caps tuition, increases spending for education (partly through property taxes), cuts Medicaid, provides incentive programs for economic development, and repairs some of the damage he's done to the retirement system. The House and the Senate have their own priorities, and Scott and the two houses have very different agendas.
In particular, Senate President Joe Negron sent a letter to state senators stating that, "my goal over the next two years is to enact an aggressive and comprehensive higher education agenda that boosts the strength and competitiveness of our state universities as our primary economic engine to drive vibrant, sustainable economic development and growth in high-paying jobs." He then details additional resources he hopes to provide to universities - and new, improved hoops universities must leap through.
Meanwhile, some old bills are back, including a bill to allow computer coding as a substitute for some high school foreign language requirements, a bill to end in-state tuition rates for immigrants who are longstanding Florida residents, and a bill to permit licensees to openly carry handguns on campuses and other previously restricted areas (five subsequently filed bills allow for concealed weapons in courthouses, airport terminals, legislative meetings, college campuses, and government meetings). A similar bill was killed last year in committee, but a recent leadership change might give the bill a smoother ride this year. Speaking of which, some new bills promise mischief, like a bill to discourage Freedom of Information requests.
UFF's state office sends staff to...educate...politicians about the consequences of legislation, but legislators can be influenced by constituents back home. We would like to have a political education committee, and if you are interested in educating politicians, please contact our chapter secretary.
While tenure does not appear to be a priority of the Florida state government, it is a priority elsewhere. Since state governments are laboratories for other state governments, we should keep an eye out: what someone tries somewhere else might show up here.
Tenure is an increasingly awkward subject for academics. The notion of tenure actually came from unions, but as unions shrank American workers lost many tenure protections, and some have become resentful of the few areas where tenure protections remain. Meanwhile, in academia itself, an increasing proportion of permanent faculty are not tenure track (and an increasing proportion of instruction is done by non-permanent faculty).
Last month, legislation was introduced in Missouri to stop granting academic tenure to anyone hired in 2018 or later, and legislation was introduced in Iowa to abolish tenure entirely. Some of the politicians seemed confused about what tenure was (e.g. Iowa legislators didn't know that tenured faculty already can be dismissed for just cause, program discontinuance or financial exigency.)
(Of course, cynics might suspect that some legislators would like to fire faculty for, say, tweeting uncomplimentary things about politicians.)
How much this might inspire Florida legislators is unclear. More sensible legislators may want to concentrate on the budget battle to come. On the other hand, in the past, anti-union legislation elsewhere has inspired anti-union bills here. This is Florida, and nothing is out of bounds when the Legislature is in session.
Meanwhile, Back in Washington...
President Trump's Executive Order Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States garnered protests across the nation - including USF - but also hit academia in general and (at least in the media) science in particular.
American universities recruit students from abroad, and among the 60,000 or 100,000 revoked visas were enough stranded students to generate complaints, most notably a petition by 171 scientific, engineering, and academic organizations asking the President to rescind the executive order.
Several higher education leaders condemned the executive order. Meanwhile, scientific organizations were already disturbed by reports of government scientists being muzzled, so some activists organized a March for Science. But some are skeptical: science is already perceived (by many) as a special interest - and, as the Chief Executive Officer of the American Association for the Advancement of Science observed, scheduling the march for Earth Day may strengthen that perception.
There is some controversy within the scientific community about scientists involved in politics - and what form the activism should take. Professor Robert Young of Western Carolina University wrote in a New York Times op-ed that part of the problem is that much of the public (including politicians) don't know research scientists. "I suggest that my fellow scientists march into local civic groups, churches, schools, county fairs and, privately, into the offices of elected officials. Make contact with that part of America that doesn’t know any scientists. Put a face on the debate. Help them understand what we do, and how we do it. Give them your email, or better yet, your phone number."
Of course, this is what organizations do. They find forums, speakers, and help members make connections. And it isn't just scientists who should think about this: a sideways glance at the cable TV line-up suggests that historians, philosophers, and artists could find an interested audience. And that would help us build credibility - and make friends we may need in troubled times ahead.
Chapter Meeting tomorrow Friday, February 10, on USF St. Petersburg, in USC 150.
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.
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