UFF Home
UFF Biweekly
United Faculty of Florida -- USF System Chapter
9 March 2023
Email not displaying properly? View it in your browser


Sixty Days

Foreign news junkies may recall that in 2019, the Central European University was exiled from Budapest to Vienna. The university was a "bastion of liberalism" and Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orbán had issues with the university's founder, George Soros. Some of Orbán's admirers were delighted that gender studies would no longer be supported by public monies in Hungary, and one admirer looked forward to Florida's 'Orban' Renewal Project.

In that spirit, the sixty-day legislative session opened on Tuesday. Some observers ascribed the spirit to Governor DeSantis [USF login required], and one angrily claimed that Florida Could Start Looking a Lot Like Hungary.

But while politicians and pundits debated the morality of Orbán's program, the coldly realistic observation would be that Hungary had just lost the Quacquarelli Symonds World University Rank # 124 (by subject) university. And returning to Florida, the ocean is rising, insurance rates are rising, overburdened highways are jammed, our industrial competitors in California and Massachusetts (not to mention China and Germany) are pushing the technological frontier, and Florida's political leadership is focussing on marginalizing marginalized people - and harassing Florida's educators in the process.

To be fair, whatever you may think of her approach, the Senate President is addressing an actual problem, so some legislators are doing their jobs some of the time. With that positive thought in mind, during this legislative session, members of UFF and its affiliates are visiting Tallahassee to talk to ordinary legislators about (1) how unhelpful all this bad legislation is and, time permitting, (2) what Florida really needs. In this issue, we look at some of the unhelpful legislation being proposed.

And then came one of those are-they-serious bills. And they may be serious.
  • A Political Officer on Every Campus. The governor called on the Legislature to enable political invasion of university policy and curriculum. And there is a bill, and it's ticking. For details, see below or click here.
Meanwhile, Florida has become an international spectacle. In his first inaugural address, President Franklin Roosevelt said, "…the only thing we have to fear is fear itself - nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance." There is a pervasive fear spreading through Florida's public and private leadership, and we saw it when the administration of the State College of Florida (SCF) cancelled the planned Embracing Our Differences exhibition after the administration demanded that three pieces be excluded - one of which was a piece on a quote by a fifth grader on diversity and inclusion - a quote that SCF's spokesperson implied SCF could not tolerate on campus. The SCF Chapter of UFF protested the cancellation and noted their administration's remark about "...the recent vandalism of [Embrace Our Differences] display and current threats of violence on school campuses." The SCF administration may think that it has demonstrated sensitivity in a time of tension, but in reality, it has shown that it is easily cowed. The bullies will take notice.

Election Season!

The election for officers and representatives of the USF Chapter of the United Faculty of Florida is underway. The ballots packets are going to the printer and will be in the mail shortly: UFF members will be informed when the packets are in the mail. All UFF members - and only UFF members - may vote in chapter (and statewide) elections, so join today!

Chapter Meeting Tomorrow at 12 Noon at USF Tampa in EDU415 and on Zoom

The USF Chapter of the United Faculty of Florida will meet tomorrow Friday at 12 pm at USF Tampa in EDU415 and on Zoom. On the agenda: the legislative session, the chapter election, the recruiting drive, and more. And here are the minutes for the previous meeting.

Any employee in the Bargaining Unit may attend, but to Zoom in 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.


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.


We have not reached the point (yet) when politicians can directly attack teachers; instead, they attack the organizations that teachers form. Thus, Governor DeSantis announced legislation to "... Empower Educators, Protect Teachers from Overreaching School Unions and Raise Teacher Pay" when he was actually announcing legislation to harass the unions that teachers organize.

(The Tampa Bay Times had a more cynical take when they reported that Florida bill targeting unions emerges in House [USF login required].)

Two of the reforms that DeSantis proposed are part of his Paycheck Protection package:

  • "Prohibit any union representing public employees from having its dues and assessments deducted by the public employee’s employer." UFF members could no longer pay dues by paycheck deduction. Our affiliate, the Florida Education Association, saw this coming and is preparing to change its dues collection - so members should anticipate a transition in coming months. (Incidentally, this requirement does not apply to unions representing law enforcement officers, correctional officers, correctional probation officers, or firefighters; no mention of paramedics.)
  • "This proposal will require school unions to represent at least 60% of employees eligible for representation, an increase over the current 50% threshold." The governor actually means that 60% have to be dues-paying members (as the bill text makes clear). The 50% threshold applied only to K-12 schools, and that law was passed in the hope that not enough K-12 teachers would join and their unions would be decertified. No such luck: teachers were willing to pay dues to keep their union. So now the Legislature is moving the goalposts and extending the requirement to us.
And now for a dash of cold water. Of course, enough K-12 teachers will join so their unions will remain certified and able to bargain and enforce contracts. As for us, the question is whether we higher education faculty are willing to pay to have a union that will bargain and enforce our contract. The ball is heading into our court.

A Political Officer on Every Campus

On January 31, Governor DeSantis Elevated Civil Discourse and Intellectual Freedom in Higher Education by calling for legislation to make sure that general education core courses were "historically accurate" and did not "teach identity politics," i.e., Critical Race Theory and anything else that makes his more sensitive constituents uncomfortable. Diversity / Equity / Inclusion (DEI) offices and programs were to be drfunded. Presidents and boards of trustees were to take over faculty hiring and retention "without interference from unions and faculty committees." Presidents and boards could conduct a post-tenure review of faculty at any time.

And yet, the university missions are to be aligned for "education for citizenship of the constitutional republic and Florida's existing and emerging workforce needs," which will be hopeless if the previous desiderata are implemented. And as for the universities retaining their accreditation...well, we are all watching to see what happens with New College.

House Bill 999 would implement the governor's desiderata. Inside Higher Ed reported that newly appointed New College Trustee - and pre-eminent anti-DEI activist Chris Rufo crowed that, "…the voters … demanded that taxpayer dollars stop subsidizing left-wing racialist ideology and partisan political activism. Democracy returns." Meanwhile, the president of the University of Florida Faculty Senate said that the bill "…turns the state university system into a political entity that will be completely controlled by whomever is elected in Tallahassee."

The Florida Show

Readers of a certain age might reflect that Florida is getting the sort of national and international attention traditionally reserved for California and Texas. And now, Florida's government is astonishing Americans across the country. For example:

The Florida Legislature has a long history of … eccentric … bills, and the novelty here is the number of these bills together with the number of eccentric executive actions and the amount of media coverage they get. It is not clear what is going on. This may be about next year's election [USF login required], and indeed, a political consultant told the Tampa Bay Times that it was all about "… drilling down on some of the really hot topics that primary voters are interested in." (Primary voters, maybe, but for the general election, Pew reports that the top issues are economic).

There are signs that the campaign is not just for show. After all, the governor did replace much of the New College Board, and the new Board's actions have raised the spectre of New College losing its accreditation. (And while the law requires Florida's universities to seek new accreditors, it's not clear that any of the other accreditors will be interested in Florida.)

Meanwhile, the governor's office is requesting reports from schools on what books they have [USF login required] and higher ed institutions about DEI efforts. What these reports will lead to is unknown, but it may well have measurable effects.

The National Education Association, one of our national affiliates, condemned the attacks on college and university faculty. Whether or not such condemnations are a concern for Florida legislators, what should concern them is what will happen to Florida as Florida's educational system is degraded.


The next chapter meeting will be tomorrow Friday, March 10, at 12 pm on USF Tampa campus in EDU415 and on Zoom; for the Zoom link, contact the Chapter Secretary. All UFF USF employees are welcome.

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.