UFF Home
UFF Biweekly
United Faculty of Florida -- USF System Chapter
24 March 2022
Email not displaying properly? View it in your browser

IN THIS ISSUE

This Time Was Different

Just after this legislative session ended, St. Petersburg State Senator Jeff Brandes complained that the Legislature didn't address major issues like property insurance, housing, and criminal justice. The Finger Lakes Times ran an editorial complaining that the Legislature ignored safety problems with aging condominiums - not to mention insurance premiums and housing and rental costs - and a letter to the Tampa Bay Times complained that the Legislature didn't address labor shortages or inflation. Florida Representative Spencer Roach suggested that if the Legislature had more time each session - say, 75 days rather than 60 - they could get all that critical stuff done.

  • Things fell apart; the centre didn't hold. The reality is that a lot was done - but a lot of what was done was what the Finger Lakes Times called "revenge politics." That is unusual for an election year, and it suggests a new dynamic - and a new dynamic suggests that we need a new way to engage the Legislature. For more, see below or click here.
The next bargaining session will be tomorrow Friday, March 25, at 1:00 pm, in CGS 140 (in the Patel Center). It is open to the public, and we invite all interested members of the USF community to attend. In addition, we will livestream it to our You-Tube channel (and we will post a recording there afterwards). And all employees in the UFF USF Bargaining Unit (members and non-members alike) are invited to come at 11:30 am to CGS 136 (also in the Patel Center) for the chapter meeting that will precede the bargaining session (we will have sandwiches, soda pop, and sweets).
  • About Bargaining. After the chapter meeting tomorrow, we will be bargaining. Live. For more, see below or click here.
Meanwhile, the Chapter Election is underway. The United Faculty of Florida is both a participatory and a representative democracy.
  • It is a participatory democracy. As a volunteer organization, most of the work is done by volunteer members. We do have staff support - paid for by union dues - but most of the work is done by volunteers. And as in many things, those who do the work determine what work is done - and how it is done. If you would like to help with bargaining, contract enforcement (a.k.a. grievances), government relations (a.k.a. educating politicians), membership and recruiting, or publicity, contact the Chapter Secretary.
  • It is a representative democracy. Every spring, we hold chapter elections to elect the executive officers and representatives. All union members - and only union members - may participate by running for office or representative seats, or by voting. For details on the offices and seats, and statements by candidates, see the Chapter Election 2022 page.
Come and join the movement.

Chapter Meeting Tomorrow in CGS 140 at 11:30 - and on Zoom

The USF Chapter of the United Faculty of Florida will meet tomorrow Friday at 11:30 noon in CGS 136 (in the Patel Center) on USF Tampa. On the agenda: bargaining, legislative wrap-up, the chapter election, and more. And here are the minutes for the previous meeting. Notice that the meeting starts at 11:30, and while we will facilitate Zooming, it will be face to face. There will be sandwiches, soda, and sweets.

This semester, the chapter will meet on Mar. 25, April 8 & 22, and May 5. Any employee in the Bargaining Unit may attend, but to Zoom in you must have an invitation: contact the Chapter Secretary to get one. Notice that tomorrow's meeting starts at 11:30.

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.


Things fell apart; the centre didn't hold

While the Legislature passed a substantial budget increase, including more money for USF (if the governor agrees), legislators also passed some rather ferocious legislation. Some of that legislation targeted higher education. For example:

  • Accreditation. Senate Bill 7044 on Postsecondary Education will require that each university seek a different accreditor each accreditation cycle (although it was amended so that a university that cannot find a new accreditor may seek accreditation from its old accreditor) and enables post tenure review every five years.
  • Critical Race Theory. House Bill 7 on Individual Freedom revises "requirements for required instruction on the history of African Americans" and "prohibits instructional materials reviewers from recommending instructional materials that contain any matter that contradicts certain principles."
If signed, each of these laws could land Florida universities in hot water. The US Department of Education warned Governor DeSantis that Senate Bill 7044 could jeopardize federal funding, and as a political invasion of universities, House Bill 7 could also cause accreditation problems.

And that doesn't count the ferocious legislation that didn't make it out the door (like the latest anti-union bill from Senator Baxley and Representative Scott Plakon) or merely sleazy legislation (like exempting university and college presidential searches from the Florida Sunshine - which passed by a bipartisan two-thirds supermajority, a victory for the smoke-filled room.)

This was not sudden: last year's legislative session also featured hostile legislation (and we understand that one item in a new law on Postsecondary Education will be implemented soon - the first "annual assessment on intellectual freedom & viewpoint diversity").

Higher education wasn't the only target.

  • Official Advertisements. House Bill 7049 eliminates legal requirements for publishing legal notices in newspapers. These legal requirements may be obsolete in this Internet Era, but the political context - passing this bill just as newspapers are yapping about the Legislature - is telling.
  • "Don't Say Gay." House Bill 1557 is a rather vague array of requirements and prohibitions regarding discussions of sexual orientation (e.g. if a second grade student asks about having two mommies, what is a teacher supposed to say?). Enforcement is by enabling unhappy parents to sue, so there may be lots of litigation heading towards K-12 teachers.
These are not the sort of laws that got passed in previous election years. The conventional wisdom is that most incumbent legislators have more to fear from general elections than primaries, especially if they have good relations with the local politicians in their districts. After all, all politics is local. So they play to the center in election years.

But not this year.

Perhaps politics is not local anymore. The most telling piece of legislation in this session may be Senate Bill 620, which enables businesses that have lost a lot of business due to local ordinances to sue. Whether or not this is good legislation, it is definitely one of a string of laws dinging local governments. Florida legislators did not make nice with the locals, and this has been happening for years.

For a decade now, writers for 538 have been asking if politics is still local, and concluding that it is less local than it used to be. Whatever the reason - money in politics, polarization and identity politics, the internet, or and increasingly non-local national media - if the political reward system rewards legislators more for their work on the national obsessions du jour than for boring stuff like infrastructure and the price of bread, then that is where their energy is going to go.

And redistricting may make things worse: as legislative districts grow more monochromatic, legislators will worry more about their primaries than the general elections. Hence the interest in the obsessions du jour.

There is a theory that the important divide is really between committed partisans (who wear shirts of whatever colors) and those who those have other priorities. And many in the latter group who are turned off by the partisanship are increasingly prone to keep their distance. And that's a problem. As Aesop observed, the squeaky wheel gets the grease, and if all the squeaks emanate from a partisan minority, that minority will get the grease.

This is a problem for organizations like unions, which are interested in policies, not partisanship. Unions are often uninterested in the issue du jour even if politicians push them. And when unions are interested in an issue du jour, getting our message across can be like competing with a wurlitzer.

Unions do have an advantage. Our concerns are typical of the concerns of most people. Many politicians are not fully aware or interested in their constituents' preferences, but if their constituents get engaged, they can educate their representatives - and make it (politely!) clear that politicians have to take them seriously. This is what unions in general - and the United Faculty of Florida in particular - have to do. It does not suffice to bombard legislators during legislative sessions; it is necessary engage with them year round and over the long term.

If you are interested in joining the engagement effort, contact the Chapter Secretary. And don't forget: it is the squeaky wheel that gets the grease.

About Bargaining

It is now 448 days since the last contract "expired" and we still don't have a new contract. As noted in the previous Biweekly, the old contract didn't go away. It remains, freezing the terms and conditions of employment in place, until it is replaced by a new contract. Employees have all the same protections provided by the contract, but on the other hand, most salaries were frozen while the Consumer Price Index went up 8.92%.

On one side of the table is the USF Chapter of the United Faculty of Florida, which represents all 1,500+ employees of the UFF USF Bargaining Unit (essentially all faculty and many professionals outside of the Medical School, except for chairs as only Arts & Sciences and Education chairs are in the Bargaining Unit). On the other side of the table is the USF Administration, which represents the USF Board of Trustees.

So far, UFF has put a series of proposals on the table, getting minimal response (see the Bargaining a New Contract page for details). The Administration has put several packages on the table, each including provisions rolling back employee protections - and it was never clear why rolling back was necessary, or even desirable. Hopefully, we will see some progress tomorrow afternoon. Bargaining starts on Friday, March 25, starting at 1 pm, in CGS 140. The public is welcome to attend or to watch the livestream on our You-Tube channel. In addition, the USF Administration will livestream it on Teams.


LOGISTICS

The next chapter meeting will be tomorrow Friday, March 25, at 11:30, in CGS 136 or 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.