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UFF Biweekly
United Faculty of Florida -- USF System Chapter
15 May 2014
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Happy Summer! And Summer means we meet at CDB Restaurant

Chapter Meeting Tomorrow (Friday) Noon at CDB Restaurant

The UFF USF Chapter will meet tomorrow Friday at 12 noon east of USF Tampa at CDB Restaurant on 5104 E. Fowler: for a map, click here. There will be pizza, salad, and drinks. All UFF USF employees - UFF members and non-members alike - are invited.

The summer schedule for Chapter Meetings will be on alternate Fridays, at 12 noon. We will meet on May 16 & 30, June 13 & 27, July 11 & 25, and August 8 & 22. Meetings will be at CDB Restaurant except for the May 30 UFF USF Chapter Meeting, which will be on USF St. Petersburg, room TBD.

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 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. AND YOU CAN JOIN NOW AND AS A DUES PAYING MEMBER, YOU WILL RECEIVE A $ 100 REBATE NEXT FALL. Come and join the movement.


If you have been the victim of a violation of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, 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 online contact form. For more information, see our web-page on grievances.


Review of the Legislative Session

Mark Twain said no one's life, liberty, or property was safe while the legislature was in session. But now the session is over, and we can look over what they wreaked - er, did. And were stopped from - er, didn't.

  • Retirement, Health Benefits, and Guns, Oh My. The Florida Education Association helped kill some bad legislation this year. For details, see below or click here.
  • Of Retirement, Apples, and Oranges. Two efforts to reform two quite different retirement plans died this session. For those of us worried about yet another assault on our retirement, it was a relief. But it may also be a cautionary tale. For more, see below or click here.
And since we are in impasse, we can't resist:
  • About those monkeys in our Bargaining Team's letter. A Capuchin monkey resents it if its own reward is a cucumber slice while another monkey gets a grape for doing the same trick. For more about this study by one of the world's leading primatologists, see below or click here.

Retirement, Health Benefits, and Guns, Oh My

With this legislature, the best the Florida Education Association (FEA) could do was work to kill bad bills. Here is a sample. (Incidentally, union dues paid the salaries of FEA staff who educated legislators about the consequences of bad bills; you can help by joining today.)

Of course, bills don't die in committee by themselves. We have to fight these things. But we can't win them all... Of course, most FEA members are K-12 teachers, professionals, and staff, so the FEA also focused on bills like: Of course, some legislators (and of course, the governor) may have been intimidated by the thought of the fall election. Next spring, they may be less intimidated. So ... the USF Chapter is forming a Committee to Do Something About Florida Politicians. If you are a political junkie and would like to get involved, contact the Chapter Secretary.

Of Retirement, Apples, and Oranges

This is a tale for political junkies.

During the last four years, the Governor and the Legislature waged war on state and public employees, and one of their targets is our retirement funds. Officially, the state shifted about a third of the cost (3 % of our salaries) onto us; in reality, the shift is nearly twice that (5 % and rising). This year, House Speaker Will Weatherford announced plans to undermine the Florida Retirement System (and, en route, cut support for the Optional Retirement Plans others of us rely on). The Florida Education Association (FEA) responded by warning against "legislation intended to further degrade retirement benefits."

The FEA spent a lot of time this legislative session educating legislators, and eventually Weatherford's bill was in deep trouble. So he tied his bill to another one, one that seemed sure to pass. That didn't work, and both bills died. So ... what was this other bill?

Not all Florida public employees are covered by the Florida Retirement System: some are covered by county and municipal retirement programs. Some counties and cities are doing a good job; some are ... apparently not. In 2011, the Leroy Collins Institute issued a Report Card on Florida Municipal Plans and handed out D's and F's to 37 % of the plans reviewed. Among the plans getting F's (i.e., were not 60 % funded) were Fort Myers General and Police, Jacksonville's Correctional and Police / Fire, Miami's General and Sanitation, Plant City's Police / Fire, and Temple Terrace's Police. (Both Tampa and St. Petersburg got A's for their General and Police plans.)

After some finger-pointing and politicking, a compromise fix appeared, supported by the League of Cities: Senate Bill 246, ultimately accompanied by House Bill 7179. Weatherford tied his bill to HB 7179 and both bills died.

This fall, legislators will plan for next session. They may plan for reforming state and municipal plans. They may plan for reforming the Florida Retirement System. We will be watching.

About Those Monkeys

In the Veni, Vidi, Vici letter from our Bargaining Team, there was a link to a You-tube video on Capuchin monkeys reject unequal pay, a clip from Frans de Waal's TED Talk on Moral behavior in animals. The clip showed two Capuchin monkeys, one of whom was rewarded for a task with a grape, while the other was rewarded for the same task with ... a cucumber slice. If you want to see what happened, click here.

Frans de Waal is the Charles Howard Chandler Professor of Primate Behavior at Emory University, and a member of the National Academy of Sciences. He became famous because of his studies of power relationships among chimpanzees. (He became controversial for advancing the notion that chimpanzees deliberately deceive other chimpanzees.) But after studying chimpanzee conflict resolution, he got interested in other aspects of social behavior. Including the effect of inequality.

De Waal argues that there are two "pillars of morality": reciprocity (and hence fairness) and empathy (and hence compassion). He concedes that morality has "evolved" beyond these two pillars, but he claims that by looking at our fellow primates, we can see where morality as a psychological phenomenon begins.


Chapter Meeting tomorrow Friday, May 16, at 12 noon at CDB Restaurant at 5104 E. Fowler Ave., just east of USF Tampa..

There will be pizza, salad, and drinks. All UFF members are invited to attend. Non-members are also invited to come and check us out. 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.

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