United Faculty of Florida -- USF System Chapter
17 May 2012
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CHAPTER MEETINGS THIS SUMMER
This summer, the UFF USF Chapter will meet on alternate Fridays, at 12 noon: we will meet tomorrow May 18, then June 1, June 15, June 29, July 13, and July 27. Four of these meetings - May 18 (tomorrow), June 15, June 29, and July 27, will be at CDB Italian Restaurant at 5104 E. Fowler Ave. in Tampa, just west of the USF Tampa campus; pizza and beer will be provided by the Chapter. On June 1, we will meet in the Marshall Student Center (MSC) in room 3700 next to Top of the Palms; the Chapter will cover the buffet (but come to MSC 3700 first). After that, we will be meeting at CDB Italian Restaurant, except for another meeting on a date TBA in the Marshall Student Center. All USF faculty and professionals – UFF members and non-members alike – are welcome. Come and check us out.
JOIN UFF TODAY!
Download, fill in, and mail the membership form. 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 future 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. Come and join the movement.
CONTRIBUTE TO UFF PAC!
UFF needs your help to fight for you in Tallahassee. We need to help reasonable candidates get elected this fall, and we need to build relationships with legislators we will be dealing with next spring. Thanks to the U. S. Supreme Court, that means campaign contributions. But DUES MONEY DOES NOT GO TOWARDS CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTIONS, so the UFF Political Action Committee needs donations! Download, fill in, and mail the UFF PAC paycheck deduction form to contribute a few dollars out of each paycheck towards the UFF PAC fund. We need all the pull in the legislature that we can get.
IN THIS ISSUE
RUNWAY TO THE FALL ELECTIONS.
The 2010 election brought us Rick Scott and an irresponsible and immature legislative leadership. Now, after two horrendous legislative sessions, elections are coming up. Unions are not shy about getting involved in elections, especially when the stakes are this high, and UFF and its affiliates will be involved this fall. But an election is something that one prepares for in advance – like about now.
- What Races do we Care About? The races that get the media attention are not necessarily the important ones. For more, see below.
- The Union Endorses ... So where do endorsements come from? For more, see below.
WHAT RACES DO WE CARE ABOUT?
One of our national affiliates, the National Education Association, has endorsed Barack Obama for president. The endorsement wasn't a surprise, but the endorsement was about more than the presidential race. The presidency is important; after all, the president appoints the officials who enforce (or in the case of Obama's predecessor, don't enforce) labor laws. The president influences and ultimately signs or vetoes federal legislation on education and employment. The unions would rather not have a nonfeasant National Labor Relations Board, and that might be what we would get with, say, Mitt Romney making the appointments.
But looking back over the last two years, our issues were with Tallahassee. Food fights in the closed shop. And now, union dues are going into fighting unconstitutional laws the governor signed. Without a dramatic change in personnel, we can expect more of the same (if not worse) next spring. The races involving these issues are:
Notice that none of these races are particularly sexy: most people will pay more attention to the top of the ticket. And the top of the ticket is important: that's frequently what gets voters to go to the polls. But a union is a creature of law – our business is contracts, after all – so legislators, local representatives, and judges are our bread and butter. So that is where we will put a lot of our effort.
- Legislative races. A few legislators are very influential one way or the other, and the union has its preferences concerning this handful. However, most legislators are not movers or shakers. But all legislators are important: one of the major problems of the last session was the willingness of ordinary legislators to support the leadership's agenda in the face of common sense. We need more common sense and less subservience next spring.
- School boards, city councils, and county commissions. UFF's interests are not immediately involved with these local politicians, but the teachers, electrical workers, police, and other members of UFF's fellow unions deal with local politicians directly or indirectly all the time. That makes these elections important. Besides, these are the people who decide where to put stoplights, what zoning to set up in a neighborhood, and how to decide which schools kids go to; that makes these races personally important to all of us.
- Judges. Judicial races are the most boring in the universe, because they are supposed to be non-partisan. But consider: right now there is a flap over some incumbent Florida state Supreme Court justices running for re-election, possibly against organized opposition. If any of these justices loses, Governor Scott will appoint their successor(s). And meanwhile, the Florida state Supreme Court is the last stop for the growing number of lawsuits we have against the governor and his unconstitutional laws. We have a big stake in the outcome of judicial races.
THE UNION ENDORSES ...
UFF is a union local of the Florida Education Association, which is affiliated with the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers, the latter of which is a member of the AFL-CIO. Governance is by representative democracy, which means that an endorsement in the presidential campaign is a decision made by our (elected) representatives in the NEA and the AFL-CIO.
Legislators, local officials, and judges are another matter.
There are so many races that union must rely on its activists to meet with candidates in local elections, talk to people who know the ground, and then compose recommendations for endorsements. Unions are like any other volunteer organization: the recommendations will go to committees, which will distill them into lists of recommended candidates.
UFF chapters in this part of Florida work with the West Central Florida umbrella of unions on endorsements. This month, union activists are meeting with candidates in Citrus, DeSoto, Hardee, Hernando, Highland, Hillsborough, Pinellas, Polk, Sarasota, and Sumter counties. If you have thoughts and recommendations, or if you want to help, come to the UFF USF Chapter Meeting tomorrow, Friday, starting at 12 noon, at CDB Italian Restaurant, at 5104 E. Fowler Ave. in Tampa (51st & Fowler just east of USF Tampa). Or contact Ross Alander, who will be working with the West Central Florida activists.
And don't forget. All those little races towards the bottom of the ballot are not only UFF's bread and butter. They are the people voting on USF's budget next year. This fall, once all the committees have cogitated, we will announce the unions' recommendations.
Next Chapter Meeting tomorrow Friday, 12 noon, at CDB Italian Restaurant at 5104 E. Fowler Ave. in Tampa, just west of the USF Tampa campus.
Pizza & beer are provided by the union, and all UFF members are invited to attend. Non-members are also invited to come and check us out. Come and join the movement.
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