In the Yes, Prime Minister episode Patron of the Arts, the Permanent Secretary explains that the time to influence decisions is when they are being made. And we are entering the time that decisions are being made about Fall - the first full term after Consolidation.
The USF Chapter of the United Faculty of Florida will meet tomorrow Friday at noon on Zoom. On the agenda: the summer schedule, impact bargaining (see article below), requirements to teach online, faculty evaluations, and more.
We will meet at 12 noon tomorrow Friday, May 8. Any employee in the Bargaining Unit may attend, but you must have an invitation: contact the Chapter Secretary. Meetings and events are posted on the Events Calendar of the UFF USF Website. Come and check us out.
Many of our students are struggling during this crisis, and the USF Foundation is supporting the USF Food Pantries to help out. They are accepting non-perishable donations, but one can also make monetary donations for the pantries at St. Petersburg, Sarasota / Manatee, and Tampa.
In order to be a member of UFF, one has to join. To join, 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.
Asking what is going to happen in fall is a little like Frodo warily wondering what he will see in the Mirror. As Galadriel explains, whether what one sees actually comes to pass depends on what one does once one has looked in the Mirror.
We are gazing at models now, but a model is merely a simulation, built with assumptions about the underlying mechanisms of the pandemic, and given certain assumptions about how people (and the virus) will behave. (Here is a brief look at short term forecasts by some of the currently popular pandemic models.) For example, looking ahead to fall, AAAS Science ran an "in depth" article, With COVID-19, modeling takes on life and death importance (available through the Library), which projected that the pandemic would come in waves, through the end of the year ... and perhaps beyond.
Will we be in class or online in fall? The answer may turn out to be "yes."
Administrators and students are feeling their way, although administrations across the country are announcing plans to be open in fall. Meanwhile, students would prefer to be on campus and for that and financial reasons many are postponing college plans.
Even before the pandemic, politicians were soft on funding higher education (state funding is nearly 9 % below what it was in 2008); now, with enormous expenses just to stave off disaster, public institutions face hard times, and Moody's Investors' Service expects a negative effect on higher education worldwide. Some institutions have already announced furloughs and layoffs.
What about USF?
At the 10 April 2020 Town Hall, Provost Wilcox said that as of that moment, the fall schedule had not changed and he anticipated classes on campus - but with distancing. President Currall was asked about layoffs and similar measures, and he said that there were no plans for such measures at the moment, but that the Administration would be looking at the situation in May. Which is now.
Just as the United Faculty of Florida was part of the conversation in resetting the tenure clock, we intend to be part of the conversation about fall. Therefore, our Chief Negotiator has initiated impact bargaining, i.e. bargaining over issues (effects of the pandemic - possibly complicated by Consolidation) which have just come up. The first session is tomorrow.
Meanwhile, the current contract itself runs through this fall - and continues until replaced by a successor contract. In both negotiations - impact bargaining and bargaining a successor contract - the UFF represents all employees in the Bargaining Unit, whether or not they are UFF members, while the USF Administration represents the USF Board of Trustees. Stay tuned.
We lost one of our champions last month. Roy Carter Weatherford came to USF in 1972, with a newly minted Ph.D. from Harvard. Nearly half a century later, we are mourning a union activist and politician (a label he wore with pride) who helped build the local and statewide United Faculty of Florida, as well as its state and national affiliates.
Weatherford was born in 1943 in Arkansas, and his family lived in a log cabin with no electricity. He went to Arkansas Tech, and then to the US Army Intelligence & Security, before arriving at Harvard's philosophy department, where he won the Bechtel Prize for an essay on Heisenberg's Uncertainty Relations. At USF he continued his exploration of determinism versus randomness in his books on Philosophical foundations of probability theory and Implications of Determinism. He was basically sympathetic with Einstein's view of the universe as a manifold whose structure was largely fixed by physical laws.
He helped found the United Faculty of Florida, and served as statewide president. He served in the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers, as well as the AFL-CIO (including its local Central Labor Council). He also served as president of the Florida Philosophical Association, as vice president of the Florida Conference of the American Association of University Professors, and numerous other positions. But it may be his six years as President of the USF Chapter of UFF that was most memorable.
Weatherford was elected president shortly after Judy Genshaft was hired as president of USF, and just as Governor Jeb Bush launched a plan to get rid of the statewide Board of Regents and (incidentally) university unions by reorganizing the university system. So while defenders of higher education launched an amendment effort (which ultimately succeeded) to make the State University System Board of Governors (somewhat) independent of the Governor and the Legislature, the United Faculty of Florida prepared to defend faculty rights on each campus.
Then came 9/11, and after USF Professor Sami Al-Arian was lambasted on the FOX News O'Reilly Factor, and was subsequently put on leave, fired, unfired, investigated, etc., it fell to the union to defend his due process rights. As Weatherford explained to Bill O'Reilly, "My main concern is to make sure that the people of America understand why it is that we defend people's rights, even in this difficult time." Explaining to the USF community and the public at large included inviting several historians to USF to give lectures about academic freedom (most of the invective aimed at Al-Arian concerned things he had written and said).
In 2003, Al-Arian was indicted and fired (he was ultimately deported to Turkey) just as the battle over union representation at the universities became fiercest. Wary of spending years fighting Governor Bush in court, UFF chose to seek "certification elections" at each university in which faculty would vote on whether they wanted UFF to represent them. But in order to even get a referendum at a campus like USF, UFF had to persuade at least a third of the faculty at that campus to sign a petition calling for the referendum. UFF got a majority of the faculty at several universities (including USF) to sign, and after UFF won a few landslide victories, the remaining universities (including USF) chose to "voluntarily" recognize UFF as the union representing faculty.
It took another year, but at the end of 2004, UFF (representing USF faculty) and the USF Administration (representing the USF Board of Trustees) signed the first Collective Bargaining Agreement between the faculty and the board. Meanwhile, acting in collaboration with the faculty senates, faculty governance was strengthened (and governance even got into the new contract). Weatherford had brought the ship through the storm.
Weatherford and his wife Doris were contributors to the multi-lingual publication La Gaceta, which was saddened to hear that he passed away. In the UFF News & Views, Maureen Dinnen - the first president of the Florida Education Association - wrote, "Many UFF successes exist because of Roy’s advocacy. One memory I have is Roy joining our then UFF/BCC members in picketing the BCC campuses in full academic attire ... there was Roy in his crimson PhD Harvard robe walking proudly with us." He is survived by his wife Doris and his daughter Margaret Prater. There will be a service at a future date.
Chapter Meeting tomorrow Friday, May 8, at noon, via Zoom. All UFF USF members are welcome: for the Zoom link, contact the Chapter Secretary.the Chapter Secretary. 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.
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 email@example.com.