America was not a great democracy because of great policies, according to Alexis de Tocqueville (who did not approve of slavery or expulsions of native Americans), it was a great democracy because when there was a problem, ordinary people formed organizations to address the problem. This was true until the 1950s, when, as Robert Putnam observed, Americans started gradually withdrawing from churches, political parties, civic organizations, professional organizations, recreational and educational associations, the PTA, youth groups ... and unions.
This withdrawal makes life easier for politicians and lobbyists. Lobbyists raise money through mailings (Get Involved! Send Money!) and politicians only have to deal with lobbyists, and not mere citizens. It is not surprising that politicians would pass laws to discourage people from joining active organizations - and even to defund lobbyists that they don't like.
And as this is evaluation season, here is a link to last year's article on annual evaluations.
The USF Chapter of the United Faculty of Florida will meet tomorrow Friday at noon on USF Tampa in SOC128. Lunch is on us. On the agenda: the recruitment campaign, election mechanics, the latest on consolidation, the spring meeting schedule, and more. Come and check us out.
Bargaining will be in earnest, and the UFF USF Bargaining Committee would like to know what's important to you. As UFF represents all UFF USF employees, we would like everyone, members and non-members alike, to fill out the survey. Here is the link to the survey form.
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.
Yes, we are on social media.
Some legislators are concerned that union members are not aware of their right not to be union members, and would like to remind members of this. Annually. With paperwork.
Florida is a "right-to-work" state, which means even if employees are represented by a union that bargains their contracts, they don't have to join. In fact, employees are not automatically enrolled when they are hired: an employee has to fill in a membership form in order to join. (So if you have not signed on, you are not a member.)
Two members of the Tampa Bay legislative delegation want to make sure that all USF faculty understand this - and they want members to sign a form - annually - to confirm that they been reminded. (Actually, the legislators aren't just picking on us: the bill would apply to all unions in Florida.) Florida Representative James Grant of Hillsborough and Pinellas counties (and vice chair of the Florida House Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee) has filed House Bill 1 regarding Dues and Uniform Assessments. Meanwhile, Florida Senator Jeff Brandes of Pinellas County has filed a companion Senate Bill 804 concerning Employee Organization Dues and Uniform Assessments. Here is what they propose.
The bills would require that the membership form (and here is the UFF USF membership form) advise prospective members of their right not to join. In fact, their statement says more than that:
|I acknowledge and understand that Florida is a right to work state and union membership is not required as a condition of employment. I understand that union membership and payment of union dues and assessments is voluntary and that I may not be discriminated against in any manner if I refuse to join or financially support a union.|
Readers may recall the union-busting bill that passed in 2018: if a union for K-12 teachers had fewer than half of the employees it represented as members, it had to get a majority of the employees to sign a petition to keep that union. Annually. (Fortunately, that bill only applied to unions for K-12 teachers because, ahem, only a third of the UFF USF employees are members of UFF.) This bill may be more extreme: every public employee union in Florida will have to have all of its members sign a form in order to pay by dues deduction. Annually. The burden may to be on the unions, but the language is vague, so who knows...
Of course, this would be a major burden, which (like the 2018 bill) is probably the point. After all, Grant and Brandes are not requiring that employees renew deductions for insurance payments, voluntary contributions to retirement programs, or charitable contributions.
So we have another fight on our hands. Come to the Chapter Meeting tomorrow, Friday, at noon, on USF Tampa, in SOC128, to hear more about how Florida unions are dealing with this.
One good thing about these bills is that it may encourage public employees to check their pay stubs to see what deductions they do have. Here is information on how to log into GEMS to look at your pay stub (which requires "duo" authentication) and here is a description of what your pay stub consists of.
It's Election Season, but first a reminder. In real life, much power flows to the people who do the work. Commanders may issue commands, but the results are what the workers produce. 80 % of politics, like 80 % of life, is showing up.
So this is a call to show up. We need volunteers seeking empowerment. But one must be a UFF member to volunteer. (So join today!)
First of all, a union bargains and enforces a contract. The Bargaining is conducted by a Bargaining Committee, and the enforcing is done by a Grievance Committee. With consolidation disturbing the waters, we are dealing with more issues in bargaining and more grievances than usual, so both committees need volunteers.
Chapter Meeting tomorrow Friday, January 31, at noon, on USF Tampa, in SOC128.
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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