UFF Home
UFF Biweekly
United Faculty of Florida -- USF System Chapter
8 March 2018
Email not displaying properly? View it in your browser


The Election and a Union-Busting Bill

A lot has happened in the last two weeks. The primary policy-making body of the United Faculty of Florida met in Tampa, the UFF has a new president, chapter elections at USF are underway, and the Legislature is trying to shut the union down. We will cover the UFF meeting in the next issue; meanwhile...

  • The Union-Busting Bill That Passed. The Legislature has passed a bill that decertifies K-12 teachers' unions that do not have majority membership - a major blow to our state affiliate that will affect us a lot. For details, see below or click here.
  • The Election. Every spring, the USF Chapter of the UFF holds an election. This year's election is underway, and ballots are in the mail - and must be returned by March 20. For more, see below or click here.
At the UFF Senate meeting, the two candidates for UFF (statewide) president in the special election to replace departing President Liz Davenport spoke to the Senate. UCF Chapter President (and Writing & Rhetoric instructor) Scott Launier conceded to Florida State College-Jacksonville Chapter President (and Humanities Professor) Karen Morian. In their speeches, both talked about the 1968 Teacher's Walkout - which resulted in language in the Florida State Constitution (Article IX, 7.1(a)) saying, "The education of children is a fundamental value of the people of the State of Florida. It is, therefore, a paramount duty of the state to make adequate provision for the education of all children residing within its borders. Adequate provision shall be made by law for a uniform, efficient, safe, secure, and high quality system of free public schools..." Morian will complete Davenport's term, which ends next year.

The first report on the Senate meeting will be in the next issue of the Biweekly.

No Chapter Meeting Tomorrow

There will be no chapter meeting tomorrow. Have a Happy Spring Break! The remaining meetings this semester will be:

  • On March 23 and April 6, we will meet in EDU 150.
  • On April 20, we will have a meeting and social in the Sabal Room in the Marshall Student Center, just next to the Top of the Palms.
All USF employees are invited, especially UFF members and employees thinking of becoming UFF members. Come and check us out.

$ 500 Travel Grants for UFF Members

The USF Chapter of the UFF will award five $ 500 Travel Scholarships for next spring and summer (a sixth will be awarded to a UFF member who votes in the chapter election). This will be for travel for participation in a professional activity. All applications are due by April 18, and only UFF members are eligible. In addition, no recipient of the Summer or Fall 2017 cycles of travel grants is eligible to apply. The five 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).

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.

The Union-Busting Bill That Passed

On Monday, March 5, the Senate passed House Bill 7055, a legislative train that had a decertification caboose: any K-12 teachers' union that does not have a majority of the teachers it represents as dues-paying members is decertified; if the teachers want a union, they must have the union conduct a certification campaign. Annually. These campaigns are costly (the 2003 - 2004 campaign for UFF cost about a million dollars), and it is possible that the intent is to break the Florida Education Association, our state affiliate.

The media had paid much more attention to gun legislation, but they caught up once the HB 7055 passed in the House. The Palm Beach Post reported a blow by blow account while the Tampa Bay Times reported the aftermath, quoting FEA President Joanne McCall saying, "I'm not sure when we became Public Enemy No. 1, but it's clear this is a full out attack on public school teachers."

Since much of HB 7055 consisted of goodies for House Speaker Richard Corcoran, who the Tampa Bay Times Insider Poll found was the strongest political figure in Tallahassee, and has a personal interest in charter schools - a longstanding point of contention with the FEA - some observers saw Corcoran as the protagonist and primary beneficiary of HB 7055 (and other bills as well).

On the other hand, there is a national anti-union effort underway, most notably the Jannus v. AFSCME case currently before the U.S. Supreme Court. Many states are taking anti-union actions of their own, and one theory is that in Florida, the FEA was targeted because it was the largest and most influential union. If it is compromised, smaller unions - like UFF - will be more vulnerable.

This legislative effort does not seem to rise from any groundswell of popular opinion. In fact, this year, the Legislature has been largely doing its own thing, somewhat indifferent to what constituents and stakeholders think. And in an election year. It is not entirely clear what happens next: Governor Scott is expected to sign HB 7055, but thet may be an impolitic thing for a senatorial candidate increasingly in Corcoran's shadow to do. If he does sign it, the gauntlet will be tossed at the feet of the FEA in summer, so that the recertification campaigns start with the election season. Meanwhile, the bill is constitutionally suspect, and the courts have been known to take a dim view of politicians who abuse their authority to attack interest groups they don't like. On the other hand, the courts tend to be wary of such dangerous waters, and at any rate, this could take years (Jannus v. AFSCME is three years old). It will make for an ... interesting ... fall.

But if HB 7055 is signed into law, in the long run, a K-12 teachers' union local would have to have majority membership or cease to exist. Some counties have majority membership, but others do not. For those that do not, the recertification campaign starts now.

As for the United Faculty of Florida, we are still watching the bill that would decertify us: Senate Bill 1036, still sitting quietly in committee. But HB 7055 is about us, too. First of all, FEA is our state affiliate - we rely on FEA's lawyers for bargaining and grievances - and any thought of appeasing the Florida Legislative leadership by sitting this one out should be met with Winston Churchill's warning: "An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile - hoping it will eat him last." If the Legislative leadership gets away with this one, we will be next. It may not be long before the USF Chapter at UFF either has majority membership or does not exist.

We need to start planning for fall. Everyone interested in preserving UFF and the FEA are invited to come to the Election Count meeting on Wednesday, March 21, on USF Tampa, in the MSC Sabal Room (right and around the corner from Top of the Palms, on the third floor). Meanwhile, if you haven't already, join the UFF today; this is not the time to let someone else do it.

The Election

Every year, the USF Chapter of the United Faculty of Florida elects its officers and representatives. Only dues-paying UFF members may participate, either by running or voting. This year, the candidates for the offices are:

  • For president: Art Shapiro.
  • For vice president: Steve Lang.
  • For secretary: Greg McColm.
  • For treasurer: Sonia Wohlmuth.
We elect representatives in two state-wide bodies. One is the UFF Senate, the primary policy-making body of the United Faculty of Florida, which meets twice a year. The other is the FEA Assembly, the primary policy-making body of the Florida Education Association, which meets once a year. This year, the candidates for representative seats are:
  • For the UFF Senate: Adrienne Berarducci, Karin Braunsberger, Pablo Brescia, Candace Burns, Joy D'Andrea, Cecil Greek, Steve Lang, Richard Manning, Gregory McColm, Vic Peppard, Steve Permuth, Patricia Pettijohn, Frank Pyrtle III, Bob Welker, and Sonia Wohlmuth. The president is a senator ex officio.
  • For the FEA Assembly: Karin Braunsberger, Steve Lang, Gregory McColm, Steve Permuth, and Art Shapiro.
For details on the candidates, see
the UFF USF website.

Ballot packets are going out in the mail, and ballots must be received by March 20; any UFF member who has not received a packet by Tuesday, March 13 should contact the Chapter Secretary. In order to encourage voting, the Chapter will award one travel scholarship to a UFF member who votes.

The ballots will be counted at a special meeting on USF Tampa at the MSC Sabal Room (to the right and around the corner from Top of the Palms) from 11 am to 2 pm. All UFF members are invited, and we will have lunch. We will also consider the challenges facing us, and discuss where to go from here. So please come.


There is no chapter meeting tomorrow Friday, March 9. The next chapter meeting will be on Friday, March 23, at noon, on USF Tampa, in EDU 150. We will have lunch at the meeting. 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.

If you do not want to receive the UFF Biweekly, you can unsubscribe below. If you do not receive the Biweekly, but want to, e-mail a message to gmccolm@tampabay.rr.com.