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UFF Biweekly
United Faculty of Florida -- USF System Chapter
10 March 2022
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IN THIS ISSUE

Updates on Bargaining and the Legislature

The University of Missouri system has just reminded us what unions are good for. Two years ago, the system changed a policy, allowing for tenured faculty salaries to be cut by up to 25%. Then last year, the School of Medicine at the Columbia campus announced that it would be cutting salaries of several professors by 10% to 25%. And now, salaries are getting cut as a result of a unilateral decision by management.

If there is no union, an administration can act unilaterally like this. But if there is a union, an administration has to bargain with the union on terms and conditions of employment. But a union is only as strong as its membership; in order to be effective, a union has to have most of the employees it represents as members. Which brings us back to USF

  • Where we are in Bargaining. We were supposed to have a new contract by 31 December 2020, and it's now 10 March 2022, so where's the contract? For details on how bargaining is doing, see below or click here.
This year's legislative session ends tomorrow, and some politicians are using Florida education - including higher education - for target practice.
  • Where we are in the Legislature. The session ends tomorrow, and a lot can happen in the last two days. For where we stand at the moment, see below or click here.
Meanwhile, the nominations are in, and the ballots are going out.
  • Chapter Elections. Within a week, ballots will go out by US mail to UFF members to their home addresses. We will send out a Biweekly Special to members when this happens.
The presidential search is approaching its last lap, and the final two candidates for the next president of USF will be interviewed on Monday, March 21:
  • Rhea Law will be interviewed at USF Sarasota-Manatee in Selby Hall at 9 am, at USF St. Petersburg in the USC Ballroom at 11 am, and at USF Tampa in Traditions Hall in the Gibbons Alumni Center at 2 pm.
  • Jeffrey Talley will be interviewed at USF Tampa in Traditions Hall in the Gibbons Alumni Center at 9 am, at USF Sarasota-Manatee in Selby Hall at 11 am, and at USF St. Petersburg in the USC Ballroom at 2 pm.
The presentations will be livestreamed via links to be made available apparently through the presidential search website on March 21; questions to the candidates may be submitted in advance through that site. Information about the candidates is also posted at that site. We encourage everyone to follow this search.

And we wish everyone a Happy Spring Break!

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 legislative session, bargaining, the presidential search, and more. And here are the minutes for the previous meeting.

This semester, the chapter will meet on 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.

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.

Grievances

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.


Where we are in Bargaining

Article I, Section 6 of the Florida state constitution guarantees our right to have a union that bargains and enforces our contracts. However, contracts are not supposed to last more than three years: each contract has a date that it "expires," and by that date, a successor contract is supposed to be bargained, ratified, and ready to go. Otherwise, the terms and conditions of the "expired contract" remain in force, and nothing (not even pay raises) can be added, nothing (not even job security rights) can be subtracted. Everything is on hold until a new contract appears.

Our current contract "expired" at midnight, 31 December 2020, and its very last sentence was, "Renegotiations for a successor agreement shall begin no later than August 1, 2020."

For whatever reason, the USF Administration (which represents the USF Board of Trustees in bargaining) was ... busy. Too busy even to bargain a second Memorandum of Understanding on teaching during the pandemic (UFF's proposal has been sitting on the table since 30 August 2020, eliciting no response). The UFF Bargaining Team finally decided to simply start sending proposals; by July 2021, UFF had sent proposals on sixteen articles (and an appendix) and was asking (and not receiving) financial data in order to make a proposal on salaries.

On 20 August 2021, 384 days after the renegotiations were supposed to start, the Administration finally responded with two articles, including a proposal for a 2% bonus, and the authority to hand out up to 2% of the payroll in discretionary raises (the Administration rarely distributes more than a fraction of their discretionary authority).

Up to then, both sides were bargaining in the traditional fashion, placing stacks of proposals on the table and listening to responses from the other side (although the Administration had little to say about UFF's proposals). Then on November 5, things changed: the Administration placed a package on the table. Take it all or leave it. The Administration didn't bother to respond directly to the proposals that UFF placed that day. The same thing happened on December 7, and that's where we are. No direct responses to UFF's proposals, for the Administration has a take-it-or-leave-it package on the table (although they subsequently tweaked it). And here are UFF's major concerns with the latest package:

  • Title IX. For Section 6.5, the Administration proposes that Title IX violations (sex discrimination, sexual harassment, etc.) be handled by the Administration's Title IX office, which can only make recommendations, rather than the UFF USF Grievance Process, which ultimately can lead to arbitration.
  • Personnel Files. For Section 11.2, the Administration proposes that each employee's personnel records be distributed among multiple online files rather than a single paper file. UFF has concerns to which the Administration has not responded.
  • Conflict of Interest. For Section 19.4, there is no provision for due process for employees charged with failure to report. (UFF has a pending grievance regarding e-Disclose, and when asked whether some standard activities had to be reported - e.g. refereeing articles for journals, service on committees for professional organizations, etc. - Audit & Compliance responded that because of the grievance, they could not respond. So it is not clear what the Administration requires to be reported - a serious concern since their proposal references Florida Statute 1012.977, which provides for unpaid suspension during an investigation which, in turn, could lead to summary dismissal.
  • Raises. For Article 23, the Administration proposes, among other things, a 1.5% raise this year and 2% each of the next two years, but the latter two raises are "contingent upon positive funding of the University‚Äôs Legislative Budget Request (LBR) as compared to the level funded in 2021-2022, and 2022-23, respectively." UFF has asked for a 2% bonus and 3% (average) merit raise for this year, subsequent raises to be bargained.
  • Severability. Since the Legislature has gotten in the habit of passing toxic legislation of questionable constitutionality, the UFF would prefer to reserve the right to challenge new legislation compromising the contract - in court, if need be. The current Article 28 limits UFF's ability to do so, which is why UFF has proposed a revision of Article 28.
Bargaining details can be found at the Bargaining a New Contract page.

Where we are in the Legislature

This year, the Legislature has moved with remarkable hostility towards educators, including higher education. Florida is not unique; there is a wave of anti-higher education efforts across the country and into state legislatures. Here are some bills we are watching:

  • Accreditation. Senate Bill 7044 / House Bill 7051 on Postsecondary Education requires that each public college and university change accreditors every accreditation cycle, an invitation for chaos. And SB 7044 was amended to enable "post-tenure review" every five years (on top of the Sustained Performance Evaluations that have been in the contract for years: see Section 10.3B in the contract). The bill was amended again to permit an institution to stay with its current accreditor if applications to the others were unsuccessful. (For more on this bill - prior to these amendments - see the the article in the 10 February 2022 Biweekly.) Senate Bill 7044 itself (not House Bill 7051) now goes to the House; stay tuned.
  • Critical Race Theory. There are two (pairs of) bills allegedly addressing critical race theory - but diversity training and the study of civil rights are also in the target zone. One of the four bills, the House Individual Freedom bill, is apparently moving to the House floor and the Senate floor. The other bills appear dead. This morning, the Tampa Bay Times reported movement on at least one of these bills. For more on these bills, see the article in the 27 January 2022 Biweekly.
  • Presidential Searches. Senate Bill 520 that largely closes presidential searches by colleges and universities passed both houses and is now headed for the governor's desk.
  • Unions. House Bill 1197 on Employee Organizations Representing Public Employees would decertify any union that had less than half of its bargaining unit as dues-paying members (about a third of the USF Chapter's bargaining unit are dues paying members). It would also end payment of union dues by paycheck deduction. It had been sitting quietly until last week zoomed through the House, and is now before the Senate Rules committee. For more on this bill, see the article in the 10 February 2022 Biweekly.
The Legislature does not seem too concerned about graduate students, either: Senate Bill 666 / House Bill 769 on State University Student Fee Waivers appear stuck - complicating USF's ability to attract outstanding students of limited means.

Higher education is not the only target of the Legislature's rancor; K-12 education also attracted a lot of hostile fire. On the other hand, the proposed budget contains big increases for education spending. Of course, with two days to go in an unusually volatile legislative session, anything can happen.


LOGISTICS

The next chapter meeting will be tomorrow Friday, March 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.

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.