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
And we wish everyone a Happy Spring Break!
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.
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.
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.
Yes, we are on social media.
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:
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:
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.
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.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 firstname.lastname@example.org.