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UFF Biweekly
United Faculty of Florida -- USF System Chapter
9 April 2021
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A Legislative Hurricane - and a Note About Grievances

The 2021 legislative session is well underway, with an aggressive agenda targeting groups that have inspired the ire of senior legislators; targets range from local governments to civil rights activists. Unions - well, teacher's unions - are also under fire. How much of this wishlist will actually become law is unclear: the legislative leadership seems set on goading half the state, and meanwhile Floridians are weathering a pandemic, the consequent economic downturn, and inadequate or inappropriate government response. Ordinary legislators show signs of worrying that they might alienate too many constituents by following the leadership's agenda.

  • The Hurricane. The Legislature is moving forward on a lot of hostile legislation, and the union (and many others) are pushing back. For details, see below or click here.
  • When Things Go Wrong. The UFF USF Grievance Committee can help members in trouble. For details, see below or click here.
And three important notices...

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: results of the chapter and state elections, Summer Session B, the Legislative Session, 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.

The Hurricane

On Tuesday, K-20 teachers from across the state were to testify against Senate Bill 1014 at the Florida Senate Rules Committee meeting. The bill would require that any union representing "instructional personnel" that did not have at least 50 % of those personnel as dues-paying members be recertified, most likely by petitioning the Public Employees Relations Commission (PERC) to conduct a referendum on whether that union will continue to represent those personnel. It would also bar members from paying dues by paycheck deduction, and require employers to "verify" membership.

For example, the United Faculty of Florida represents over 1,600 USF employees - largely faculty outside of the Medical School and including some professionals - but only a third of these have joined UFF and consequently pay dues. So all 1,600+ employees enjoy a contract that UFF negotiates on their behalf (but only dues-paying members have the right to union representation in grievances). If this bill passes, either at least a sixth of those 1,600+ employees would have to join (and right away) or UFF would have to be recertified. Every year.

This is not the only bill targeting unions: Senate Bill 78 would require that each member who pays dues via paycheck deduction renew that deduction at least once every three years. And as mentioned in the previous Biweekly, these are but two of several bills that would adversely impact faculty and the university.

On Monday, about forty K-20 teachers and support staff arrived at Tallahassee for the Tuesday Florida Senate Rules Committee hearing and speak against Senate Bill Senate Bill 1014 on Employee Organizations. Apparently unenthusiastic about the prospect of spending an hour listening to educators complain about pending legislation (each visitor would get 30 seconds to say something to the committee - and with witnesses coming and going, that would take at least an hour), the Committee leadereship removed the bill from Tuesday's agenda. The Capitol is closed to visitors - Tallahassee may want schools reopened, but the Capitol is another matter - so visitors made do with brief messages from the steps of the old Capitol: the video is posted on the Florida Education Association's webpage.

For the backers of this bill, this was a setback, but not the end of the line. It could reappear on the Committee's agenda next week, so the battle continues. But the union made the point: a crowd of K-20 teachers was willing to drive to Tallahassee in the midst of a pandemic to crowd into the committee chambers to testify, if only for thirty seconds or so. Since the Florida Education Association has about 150,000 members, and politicians have to think about getting elected, this is a serious point.

If you have strong feelings about any of these bills, feel free to contact your legislators. You can find your legislators and their contact information via the legislative websites: for information on navigating those websites, see the March 25 Biweekly.

And for those of you who imagine being above all this, Senate Bill 2508 lowers the cap on all salaries from state appropriations from $ 200,000 to $ 180,000; funds for higher salaries would have to come from other sources (e.g., the USF Foundation). Anyone who earns half that and is not disturbed by this bit of micromanagement might observe that Legislature is going after us with a shotgun: Senate Bill 84 would undermine the defined benefits plan in the Florida Retirement System by barring any future employees from joining. We may be hit by different pellets, but we are all being targeted with the same shotgun.

When Things Go Wrong

Unions started as mutual aid organizations, and they still are. The United Faculty of Florida can help in many situations.

Sometimes the problem is that an employee's contractual rights have been violated. In that case, the place to begin is often to file a grievance. A grievance is a complaint that the contract has been violated. Any employee in the UFF USF Bargaining Unit may file a grievance, but only a UFF member has the right to union advice, aid, and representation in a grievance.

The grievance process starts when the Grievance form (pp. 91 & 92 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement - the contract) is filed. Notice that the grievance must identify what items in the contract have been violated; incompetence and injustice are not, in themselves, violations of the contract. A grievance must be filed within thirty days of the time the employee knew or should have known of the violation; if it is not filed within thirty days, it will be dismissed.

The contract's article on Grievances (Article 20 on pp. 56 - 63) encourages both parties to start with an "informal" process to resolve the grievance. (This informal process usually starts after the grievance is filed - because the clock is ticking and to show that the issue is serious.) We can often resolve the grievance quietly - often because the department or college leadership would rather not have Academic Affairs listen to the grievance. However, if the quiet attempt does not work - then it is off to Academic Affairs for a hearing.

And the thirty-day deadline aside, it is unwise to let a toxic situation fester. It's better to deal with these situations earlier than later.

Assignment disputes have their own system: the contract says that assignments may not be "arbitrarily or unreasonably imposed," and the Exclusive Assignment Dispute Resolution Form (pp. 100 - 101 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement) asks for the arbitrary or unreasonable specifics. These could include changes in the job appointment that violate Section 8.4 on Changes in Appointments and Supplemental Appointments (pp. 10 - 14), although some violations of Section 8.4 go through the grievance process.

Not all problems are contract violations, but that doesn't mean that the union can't help. Again, the quiet approach often works, and in addition, we know of additional resources. But UFF is not a charity, and an employee must be a UFF member to get help. So join today.


Chapter Meeting tomorrow Friday, April 9, 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.

If you do not want to receive the UFF Biweekly, you can unsubscribe below or contacting the Chapter Secretary. If you do not receive the Biweekly, but want to, contact the Chapter Secretary.