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UFF Biweekly
United Faculty of Florida -- USF System Chapter
30January 2020
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IN THIS ISSUE

Freedom of Association

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.

  • They're At It Again. The Legislature is considering a bill that would require union members to rejoin annually. For details on this We Need More Paperwork bill, see below or click here.
On the subject of getting involved, three elections are coming up this spring. First, the UFF USF Chapter is having its annual election, and we strongly encourage UFF members to run for office or representative seats. And even if a member doesn't want to run, we have many other ways that members can help their colleagues and the university.
  • We Need You! Don't just glower at the TV set! Don't just growl at the monitor! Get involved! For details, see below or click here.
The other two elections are:
  • The USF Faculty Senate. Thanks to the Legislature, we will soon have a single faculty senate, and that makes the upcoming faculty senate election particularly important. We encourage faculty to get involved, and we encourage faculty to run for senate seats - and to vote.
  • The Florida State Primary. Silence betokens consent, so people who do not vote are effectively consenting to the decisions that voters make. We encourage all eligible faculty to vote. It isn't just the presidential race: there are partisan nominations for Congress, the Legislature, and some non-partisan elections for officers like judges - officials who make a difference at the grass roots. For more information, see the Florida Division of Elections.
Democracy is too important to be left to the politicians.

And as this is evaluation season, here is a link to last year's article on annual evaluations.


Chapter Meeting Tomorrow on USF Tampa

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 Survey

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.

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.

Grievances

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.

We are on Social Media

Yes, we are on social media.

If you want to help with media matters, contact the Communications Committee chair.


They're At It Again

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.
We pause for three editorial comments.
  1. First of all, the statement is imprecise. If it refers to discrimination by employers, it is correct. It is unlawful for an employer to discriminate against an employee who declines to join a union. It is also unlawful for an employer to discriminate against an employee who joins a union(!) For some reason, Grant and Brandes neglected to put this in their statement.
  2. On the other hand, an organization that an employee declines to join may indeed discriminate against that employee. Professional organizations may charge higher fees for conferences and books; bowling clubs may refrain from inviting non-members, and a few churches are quite firm about protecting their members' perks. And many unions - including UFF - will not represent non-members in grievances. So the statement that Grant and Brandes want prospective members to acknowledge and understand is not entirely true.
  3. Following up on the observation about other organizations, why are they singling out unions? Public employees join professional organizations, bowling clubs, churches, and political parties. Exactly why employees have to be reminded about unions is unclear (although, for all we know, next session they will go after bowling clubs).
Like many unions, UFF collects dues via paycheck deductions. The bills would require that dues deduction authorization for union dues be renewed annually.

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.

Meanwhile...

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.

We Need You!

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.

And this issue of the Biweekly shows that we need members who will ... educate ... legislators. And we need members who will help with the Biweekly and other publicity. Going to the heart of the matter, we need to build the social infrastructure of the union. Persuading non-members to join, persuading members to get more active, building a network that will help sustain us and the university. This is the job of the Membership Committee. Meanwhile, the union's election season is upon us. This spring, we will be electing officers and representatives of the UFF USF Chapter. All union members - and only union members - may participate by running for office or representative seats, and by voting. (BUT YOU CAN JOIN TODAY AND PARTICIPATE: click here for the membership form.) The elective positions are: We have issued a Call for nominations; all nomination materials are due by February 28. We urge everyone to get involved.


LOGISTICS

Chapter Meeting tomorrow Friday, January 31, at noon, on USF Tampa, in SOC128.

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.

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