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UFF Biweekly
United Faculty of Florida -- USF System Chapter
10 February 2022
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In the Crosshairs

But first, there will be a Union Town Hall on Bargaining the Next Contract tomorrow, Friday afternoon, at 4 pm on Zoom. For a Zoom invitation, contact the Chapter Secretary.


This is an election year, with redistricting on the table and already in court (!), not to mention a pandemic, flooding, and a housing crisis. One might hope that the Legislature would be too distracted to harass educators, but apparently not. In addition to culture war legislation like bills to ban critical race theory from the classroom, bills on how to run universities and unions are under consideration, including...

  • Union dues. There are paycheck dues deductions for insurance, retirement, charity, you name it, including union dues. Some legislators - and lobbyists - have an issue with paycheck union dues deductions, and a bill to ban them is in the works. For more, see below or click here.
  • Presidential searches. Florida sunshine laws currently apply to (some of) the search process for university presidents. A bill to exempt searches was supposed to reach the Senate floor today, but has been postponed to next week. For more, see below or click here.
  • Accreditation. Our accreditor has irritated the Legislature repeatedly, and the Legislature thinks we need a different accreditor. For more, see below or click here.
Meanwhile, we have several announcements.
  • Elections This Spring. The Chapter is holding its annual election. All offices - president, vice president, secretary, and treasurer - are open, as are all seats for senators representing USF in the United Faculty of Florida, and for delegates representing UFF in the Florida Education Association. But only UFF members may run and vote - enfranchisement is one of the perks of membership. See the Call for Nominations for more information.
  • USF Forest Preserve. Readers may recall a proposal to develop some of a plot of land including The Claw golf course and the USF Forest Preserve, that the USF Faculty Senate "vehemently opposed" the proposal, and that the USF Chapter of UFF passed a resolution opposing "any attempt to dispose of or compromise the USF Forest Preserve." USF President Rhea Law decided to have a consultant look into the property, and now she has sent a letter to USF employees with a link to the consultant's report and a link to an advisory committee's advice, and writes that, "We will not be pursuing any of the responses to the original Request for Information (RFI) posted in April 2021 and we have ended the RFI process." However, WUSF reports that the ultimate fate of the property is still unclear.
  • The Administration Puts Up a Bargaining Page. The USF Administration apparently felt the need to put up a CBA and Bargaining Updates page at the USF Human Resources site, along with high points of their latest proposal, but visitors would have to traverse the 79-page pdf file to see (among other things) the proposals to remove Title IX sexual harassment cases from the UFF USF grievance process (leaving the Administration's own Title IX office - and the courts - as the only recourse), to expand the already ill-defined range of activities faculty have to report in e-Disclose, and to keep Article 28 (which says that the contract can be invalidated by actions of the Legislature - even if those actions are unconstitutional) unchanged. And the page did not mention that the proposal was a take-it-or-leave-it package, and it did not have UFF's latest proposal. Anyone who wants to see the full history of bargaining this contract, with all proposals that crossed the table, can visit the UFF Bargaining a New Contract page. (And by the way, on their page, a "contingent" raise is one which will materialize if the Administration feels sufficiently flush.) For more on what's going on in bargaining, come to our Town Hall meeting on Bargaining tomorrow Friday at 4 pm on Zoom: for an invitation, contact the Chapter Secretary.
And when UFF members are awarded for their accomplishments, the USF Chapter of the United Faculty of Florida is pleased to let the world know. We are proud to recognize two UFF members who have been elected Fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. We congratulate our colleagues for their hard work and accomplishments.

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: bills moving through the Legislature (see the articles below), bargaining and the upcoming town hall meeting (Friday at 4 pm; contact the Chapter Secretary for a Zoom invitation), the upcoming chapter election (see the Call for Nominations), and more. And here are the minutes for the previous meeting.

This semester, the chapter will meet on Feb. 11 & 25, Mar. 11 & 25, April 8 & 22, and May 5. Any employee in the Bargaining Unit may attend, but you must have an invitation: contact the Chapter Secretary to get one.

Meetings and events are posted on the Events Calendar of the UFF USF Website. Come and check us out.

Town Hall Meeting TOMORROW FRIDAY on Bargaining

Mark your calendars: we will hold a virtual Town Hall meeting on the bargaining situation on February 11 at 4 pm. We were supposed to have a successor contract negotiated, ratified, signed, and in place over a year ago. Find out what's going on at the table. The town hall will be held over Zoom; for an invitation, contact the Chapter Secretary.

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.

Union dues

Union dues pay for lawyers to help with bargaining and contract enforcement (i.e. grievance proceedings); dues pay for organizing campaigns and meetings; dues pay for staff and all the nuts and bolts that go into running the union. A politician who wanted to go after unions might well target dues collection.

Union locals of the Florida Education Association - of which UFF is one - collect dues via paycheck deduction. All sorts of things are paid for by paycheck deduction, from health insurance to retirement, so public agencies (like USF) have the machinery for doing this. Since paycheck dues deductions reduce the administrative burden on UFF and paperwork for members, the ability of UFF members to pay dues via paycheck deduction has long been in the contract.

House Bill 1197 / Senate Bill 1458 would bar UFF members from paying dues via dues deduction, which means that UFF would have to find an alternative method for conducting dues, increasing the burden on the union and on members. This legislation applies to all Florida unions for state and public employees - except those representing police, firefighters, and corrections officers.

This is not mere harassment; historically, unions that are barred from collecting dues via paychecks see their membership decline because of the paperwork bother. Meanwhile, unions representing K-12 teachers must maintain 50% membership within their bargaining units or go through a certification election. The effect may be to decertify K-12 teachers' unions in Florida (while dinging higher ed faculty), and since K-12 and Higher Education are under the same umbrella (the Florida Education Association), we would probably be next in line.

This bill is important to someone, for Politico reports that the bill is being pushed by the anti-union interest group Club for Growth - which is running an ad campaign pushing the bills. The bill has also gotten press coverage from the Tallahassee Democrat, Creative Loafing, and WFSU News. The union's take on the bill is that this is one more straw on the camel's back, persuading teachers to leave the profession and seeking jobs elsewhere, contributing to the teacher shortage.

Presidential Searches

Everyone in the university community - faculty, staff, students, the surrounding community - has a stake in a presidential search, and the spirit of Florida's transparency laws is that people who have a stake should be able to see and have a voice. After all, America is a republic, and "republic" is Latin for "affair of the people." Besides, without transparency, it's easier to fix a search in order to hire a compliant servant or reward a political ally.

House Bill 703 / Senate Bill 520 would restrict faculty, student, staff, and community access to the university / college presidential search process. It would restrict access to personal identifying information until the last group of finalists is selected, and closes search committee meetings that vet these candidates.

The traditional argument in favor of closing searches is that making personal information about candidates available may scare qualified candidates away, but a recent obsession in secrecy in searches, together with a growing skepticism that closed searches actually produce candidates as good as those that open searches find (see also the article in Times Higher Education), is inspiring calls to keep searches open.

(In addition, the argument to close searches is often advanced by headhunting - er, presidential search - firms with a vested interest in closing searches. And it was a more open search for the president of Florida State University that resulted in a conflicted politician not getting the job; this being Florida, a closed search is easier to fix.)

Senate Bill 520 was supposed to reach the floor last week, but an avalanche of emails and phone calls resulted in it being postponed to today, but another avalanche resulted in it being postponed until next week. Stay tuned.


Diploma mills are why we need accreditors - and, in extreme cases, the FBI. Accreditors see to it that higher education institutions maintain certain standards, including relative independence from political interference.

The Legislature mandated consolidating USF and is now thinking of invading higher education curricula while enabling political interference in presidential searches. Meanwhile, the University of Florida lurches from one political interference scandal to another - and Florida State University's presidential search included the cabinet officer who oversaw FSU. In each case, Florida's regional accreditor, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), sent nagging letters to the institutions involved.

Some legislators apparently think that something must be done about SACSCOC. The weapon was provided by the U.S. Department of Education in 2019, which changed the rules so that institutions could apply to a different accreditor if they didn't like the one they had.

Senate Bill 7044 / House Bill 7051 would require that no institution may be accredited by the same accreditor for two successive accreditation cycles; every few years, the university must apply to a different accreditor to seek accreditation. And the bill enables an institution "negatively impacted" by an accreditor's "retaliatory action" to sue. Both the Chronicle of Higher Education and the Tampa Bay Times focused on the administrative problems that such a law would entail, but considering that federal agencies pay attention to accreditation, the effect of all this on federal funding can easily be imagined.

If the Legislature is unhappy with the messages that SACSOC is delivering, the problem isn't the messenger. The Legislature may want to take a look at its own behavior.


The next chapter meeting will be on Friday, February 11, 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 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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