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UFF Biweekly
United Faculty of Florida -- USF System Chapter
25 February 2021
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Swimming Through Molasses

As March approaches, the legislative committees are hard at work.

  • In the Hopper. The legislative committees are packaging the bills that they plan to move to the floor - at least those bills that they plan to move during broad daylight. For a sample, see see below or click here.
Some of these bills are being described as "union-busting" or "suppression," which may sound like hyperbole. After all, the psychology behind them is subtle enough to have gained the attention of the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel only as recently as 2002.

Very often, active union-busting is overkill; a practical anti-union official may prefer to manage unions by less overt and expensive methods. After all, it often suffices if most employees refrain from openly supporting the unions. An official needn't bust heads or abuse police powers like some of those over-excited politicians from the 1930s; it may suffice to make supporting a union inconvenient enough so that the union's human and material resources fall below a critical threshold.

  • Red Tape as a Weapon. Legislation that can make an unwanted activity - like membership in a union - as tiresome as swimming through molasses can reduce union activity while not looking too onerous. And union activity is not the only target. For more, see below or click here.
Meanwhile, the USF Chapter of the United Faculty of Florida is conducting its election this spring. Four offices are open, and we have twenty UFF senate seats and ten FEA seats to fill. WE NEED YOU! Only UFF members may participate by running for office or representative seats, or by voting, and in order to participate you must join by February 26, so join today! Remember: silence betokens consent, so if you don't vote, you effectively consent to whatever the voters vote for. See the Call for Nominations for details, and here is the nomination form; self nominations are encouraged.

And the statewide United Faculty of Florida is sending out ballots. All UFF members are encouraged to vote.

Chapter Meeting Tomorrow on Zoom

The USF Chapter of the United Faculty of Florida will meet tomorrow Friday at 12 noon on Zoom. On the agenda: the chapter election, updates on the pandemic and budget situations, the Legislative Session convenes on March 2, the UFF Senate convenes on Saturday, and more. And here are the minutes for the previous meeting.

Any employee in the Bargaining Unit may attend, but you must have an invitation: contact the Chapter Secretary to get one. We are meeting on alternate Fridays at noon over Zoom. Meetings and events are posted on the Events Calendar of the UFF USF Website. Come and check us out.

Join UFF Today!

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. Here is the membership form. Come and join the movement.


If you have been the victim of a violation of the Collective Bargaining Agreement or the recent Memorandum of Understanding, 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 Grievances Page.

USF United Support Fund for Food Pantries

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.

We are on Social Media

Yes, we are on social media.

  • We have a Facebook group: see United Faculty of Florida at USF. 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, and the moderator will invite every UFF member that asks to join. Non-members are welcome to look (but you need a Facebook account to do that). So check us out.
  • We have a blog: see The USF Faculty Blog. This has news items as they come up.
  • We are twitter-pated: follow us on Twitter via @UffUsf.
  • We even have a You-Tube channel: check out our videos
If you want to help with media matters, contact the Communications Committee chair.

In the Hopper

While the Legislative Session doesn't open until next Tuesday, legislative committees have been working on bills for months, and we continue to watch legislation as it comes down the pike. Of particular interest to higher education are:

The Florida Education Association's leading desideratum remains education funding, which brings us to a recent letter from the Florida Senate Committee on Appropriations asking entities receiving recurring funding to submit plans on how recurring funds are to be used. (Readers may recall the USF Administration's sensitivity about the use of recurring funds.) According to the Tampa Bay Business Journal, entities affected by this exercise include USF's Cybersecurity Initiative, USF's Center for Neuromusculoskeletal Research, two USF PTSD studies, and its Policy Exchange Center on Aging. The Journal quoted USF Health Dean Charles Lockwood from a previous interview saying, " We cut the fat, we cut the muscle, cut the bone and now we're cutting the bone marrow."

The Florida Education Association maintains a web-page on its current legislative priorities - in addition to the FEA's standing desideratum of more money for education. Everyone is free to inform their legislator of their concerns about pending legislation, and we encourage everyone to do so, but public machines - e.g. anything owned by the university - cannot be used.

Red Tape as a Weapon

Two major bills going through the Florida Legislature this session are being represented as both harmless and reasonable. Senate Bill 78 would require that any public employee who is a member of a union and who pays union dues via paycheck deduction confirm the deduction every time a new contract is ratified (typically, every three years). Senator Bill Baxley of Ocala said, "To me, it's a very simple idea that you make sure (deductions are) legit, instead of someone from the union telling you to take this money out of all these people's paycheck," and a lobbyist for the Florida Chamber of Commerce said that the bill was "good governance." And after all, if the union member desires to continue to pay dues by paycheck deduction, it is simply a matter of filling out a form every three years or so. No real harm, no?

Similarly, Senate Bill 90 would require that any eligible voter who had signed up to vote by mail must submit another vote-by-mail request in order to vote by mail in 2022. As Senator Baxley observed, "It's not that big of a change," and after all, by getting voters to resubmit forms, they might think about the election and, "It may invigorate participation."

One of the burdens of modern life is the vast number of forms to fill out, and the burden on, say, small business is a longstanding and bipartisan concern. The complaint is that paperwork in itself can discourage participation - and that regulatory paperwork should be organized to minimize the burden of merely filling it out.

The burden can be deliberate. Turning to the private sector, Consumer Reports observes that businesses have long wielded forms (and other forms of gatekeeping) as defensive or even offensive weapons, and it's not anything new. And a number of governments - the former Communist Bloc comes to mind - have used and some still use red tape to discourage citizen participation in spheres that politicians and VIPs would prefer to monopolize.

A new (and therefore controversial) paradigm in economics provides a description of what is happening. In behavioral economics, people make decisions using different neural processes, some more expensive to use than others. Thinking carefully and rationally - the way Aristotle said we are supposed to think - is a conscious and expensive process, and most of us use rely on autopilots to walk (imagine trying to get each of the muscles involved to move individually), talk (that's why we often talk without thinking -and then, oops), or even decide what house to buy. The bottom line is that at any time, our cognitive resources are limited, and there are many demands on them.

And that brings us back to these two harmless bills. The public health lesson we learned (or should of learned) from the Victorian era - that what matters is what people actually do, not what experts think that they should do - applies here. If Senate Bill 78 passes, will union members get all the paperwork in? And will their public employers confirm them? If something goes wrong, will lawsuits fill the air? And if the Florida Chamber of Commerce thinks that this is good governance, how about requiring that every public employee periodically confirm their health insurance?

And while legislators consider the offensive capabilities of red tape, some Floridians are dying of COVID-19 while others are out of work and some are facing bankruptcy or foreclosure - and a sideways glance at Texas reminds us (once again!) the cost of not preparing adequately for natural disasters. Perhaps legislators should think more carefully about their priorities.


Chapter Meeting tomorrow Friday, February 26, at 12 noon, via Zoom. All UFF USF members are welcome: for the Zoom link, contact the Chapter Secretary.

All UFF members are invited to attend. Non-members are also invited to come and check us out. To get the link to Zoom, contact 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 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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