Chapter Meeting Tomorrow on USF Tampa on West Campus
We will focus on instructor issues
The UFF USF Chapter will meet tomorrow, Friday, at 12 noon on USF Tampa in the Natural and Environmental Sciences (NES) building in room 104. 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 west campus, the NES building is on the southern side of the MLK Plaza, towards the western end. Here is the campus map. Come check us out.
- The Instructor Survey. Last fall, instructors reported problems and concerns with assignments, job security, salary, and other issues. This will be the primary item on the agenda.
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 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.
USF Tampa CAS Offers More Grant Writing Workshops
Grant writing is increasingly part of academic life (alas), and the USF Tampa College of Arts & Sciences is offering workshops on grant writing, particularly for the NSF. There is a workshop on Navigating the Proposal Development and Submission Process on March 3, 10 am - 12 pm, in the Grace Allen Room in the Main Library. There is an NSF Grant Strategies Workshop on March 10 in ISA 5020. And there is an NIH R-Grant Workshop on March 31, 10 am - 12 pm, in the Grace Allen Room in the Main Library. For more information, see the CAS website on Research and Scholarship.
IN THIS ISSUE
The UFF Senate Meeting, Part I
The United Faculty of Florida represents faculty and professionals across Florida, and it has a separate chapter for each college and university it represents (the UFF also has four chapters of Graduate Assistants United). The primary policy-making body of the UFF is the Senate, which meets twice a year - over a weekend in February and a weekend in September. The Senate met last weekend, and this is the first part of a two-part report on the senate meeting.
Meanwhile, calling all UFF members: Your union needs YOU! We need members willing to represent their colleagues as UFF senators and FEA delegates. (We could welcome people willing to serve on the Executive Committee as president, vice president, secretary, or treasurer.) The UFF Senate meets twice a year (this issue of the Biweekly is a report on a meeting) and the FEA Assembly meets annually. If you are willing to help out, please send in the Nomination form (and self-nominations are encouraged) to the Election Chair by March 3; note: a receipt will be sent within 24 hours. Democracy is hard work...and if you don't use it, you lose it.
- The Legislature is Coming. The Legislature convenes on March 7, and a lot of the Senate meeting was devoted to upcoming legislation. For more, see below or click here.
- Immigration. With an executive order to replace the "immigration ban" impending, the Senate made a resolution on immigrant students and faculty. For more, see below or click here.
- Comment Would Be Superfluous. We may have thought that Texas was our primary competitor for political weirdness, but Iowa is may become a contender. For weirdness, see below or click here.
The Legislature is Coming
The legislative session may run for sixty days, starting with March 7, but it's been a long time in coming. The Organization Session was in last November, and the Florida Senate's deadline for drafts of general bills was late January. This week is the last of seven weeks of interim committee meetings. The stage is set.
Some bills may be helpful. For example, Florida Representative Carlos G. Smith visited the UFF Senate and talked about his Bright Futures Scholarship Program bill, which revises eligibility criteria. Smith said that when the eligibility criteria were adjusted a few years ago, so many minority students became ineligible that the program was investigated by the U. S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights (see the Miami Herald article). Among other things, the SAT requirement was raised from 970 to 1170 - and the average then was 982 - Smith said that the SAT requirement is now 1280. The legislation would also provide funding for the program.
But there may be trouble coming. Smith described a House exercise in which representatives were to identify cuts in each other's districts that would add up to a 10 % cut in higher education. And then there is are some bills that are more than just exercises.
For example, UFF (statewide) President Jennifer Proffitt warned that there was a move to "reform" health insurance. Representative Jason Brodeur, chair of the House Health Care Subcommittee, proposed a bill to offer alternative plans to state and public employees; at least that's how proponents describe it. In the Tallahassee Democrat, Brodeur says, "It's about choice, we are not changing anyone's benefits." But the AFL-CIO had a different view: "This legislation represents a cost-shift for the overwhelming majority of the participants." The motivating force behind this legislation appears to be the state's share in paying for our health insurance. A report by an independent agency said that from 2004 to 2011, figuring cost of living, the state's average cost increased 74 % per employee, while the employee's cost fell 14 %. (UFF Executive Director Marshall Ogletree observed that the health package helps offset other components of the pay and benefits package: in many sectors, salaries of Florida state and public employees have not kept up with inflation - and the Legislature has resisted mandating and funding raises.) Currently, the state pays $ 2.3 billion in health insurance, and some legislators would like to get some of that money for their own agendas.
There are several technical-looking proposals that could affect many institutions. For example, the Florida Excellence in Higher Education Act introduces a new funding metric: that 50 % of all first-time-in-college students graduate within four years (this replaces the 70 % graduation within six years). This would hit urban universities (like USF) who have many students with part time jobs, and it would discourage institutions from accepting students who would need more time.
And there are now at least twelve bills on guns. The UFF Senate resolved that:
The resolution was passed by an overwhelming majority, but not unanimously. UFF staff will educate legislators on the effects of legislation, but they recommend that chapters also communicate with their local legislators.
Be it resolved that we, the senators of the United Faculty of Florida, strongly oppose proposed legislation that would allow firearms to be carried on university and college campuses by people other than trained law enforcement officers. We believe that it would be detrimental to the learning environment on campus and would be incompatible with the central mission of Florida’s public universities and colleges. We further believe that would hurt our ability to attract and retain the best faculty and students to Florida's public universities and colleges.
This just in (Wednesday): Florida Representative Scott Plakon has filed a bill on Labor Organizations that would, among other things, provide for the decertification of any union representing a bargaining unit when less than half of the employees in that bargaining unit are union members. Here's the idea. Florida is a "right-to-work" state, which means that employees do not have to join a union if they are in a job where they are represented by a union: they are represented (in bargaining) for free. For example, over 1,600 faculty and professionals in USF are represented by the United Faculty of Florida, so UFF represents all of them in bargaining, even those who are not members (UFF does not represent non-members in grievances, though). When the question is put to a petition or a vote - do USF faculty and professionals want to be represented by UFF? - UFF has repeatedly won majorities. What Mr. Plakon proposes is that unless a majority of the Bargaining Unit are dues-paying members, that UFF no longer represent USF faculty and professionals in bargaining. Of course, this bill applies to unions across the state. This bill is almost certainly a violation of the Florida State Constitution, but that would entail a multi-year legal fight, so it would be best to defeat this bill before it reaches Governor Scott's desk. We will watch this bill closely ... and it may be a sign of more trouble to come.
The Chair of the Government Relations Committee ended her report with an appeal to all chapters to form their own "legislative teams" to talk to local legislators. Many politicians do not know much about higher education, and many rely on family, media pundits, and the legislative leadership for information. The Chair recommended building relationships with legislators (and their aides, who play a major role) by visiting several times a year. If you are interested in being on a legislative team, please contact the Chapter Secretary.
At the time of the Senate meeting, President Trump's executive order Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States (aka the Immigration Ban) had been blocked by a restraining order that was subsequently upheld on appeal. A replacement executive order was in the works, so the Senate resolved that it "...stands united in support of this moral and legal obligation to our immigrant and international students, faculty, staff, both within our institutions of higher learning and within our communities at large." (The full resolution, passed with no objections, is posted here.)
Comment Would Be Superfluous
Even readers who recall that Iowa's Legislature was entertaining a bill to abolish tenure, and another bill to gut collective bargaining, may be a bit surprised by this one. Iowa state Senator Mark Chelgren has filed A Bill For An Act relating to consideration of political affiliation and balance in the employment of faculty at institutions of higher education governed by the state board of regents. The bill requires that "A person shall not be hired as a professor or instructor member of the faculty at such an institution if the person's political party affiliation on the date of hire would cause the percentage of the faculty belonging to one political party to exceed by ten percent the percentage of the faculty belonging to the other political party."
Taken literally, this means that a department cannot hire a member of the Libertarian Party if there are already ten Liberatarians but only nine Greens in the faculty - which raises the question of how serious this bill is. (Inside Higher Ed reports that the North Carolina Legislature rejected a similar proposal - a sign that the North Carolina Legislature's battle with their governor notwithstanding, North Carolina is not a serious contender in the weirdness contest.)
But seriously, this is a sign of what is blowing in the wind.