United Faculty of Florida -- USF System Chapter
24 July 2014
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Chapter Meeting Tomorrow Noon near USF Tampa at CDB Restaurant
The UFF USF Chapter will meet tomorrow Friday at 12 noon east of CDB Restaurant at 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, on July 25 and August 8 & 22. Meetings will be at CDB Restaurant.
Don't Forget to Vote in the Primaries!
It's the primaries that determine who the parties will run in the fall, so make sure to vote in the primaries. The primary election is on August 26, and the deadline to register to vote is Monday, July 28. In addition, the Florida Education Association is encouraging everyone to vote by mail. For details on how to vote by mail, click here.
USF Tampa Climate Survey and Evaluations
We encourage all USF Tampa faculty to fill out the USF Tampa Faculty Senate's Climate Survey and their evaluation surveys of USF President Judy Genshaft and USF Provost Ralph Wilcox. For more information about the survey and the evaluations, click here. To go fill in the survey and the evaluations, go via the USF log-on, and there will be announcements at the left from "Faculty Org": those are the survey and evaluations.
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. 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.
IN THIS ISSUE
Ratification, Graduate Students, and Vouchers
The ballot packets for voting on ratifying the contract went into the mail last Saturday, so if you are an employee in the Bargaining Unit (union member or non-member) and you have NOT received a ballot packet delivered to your home address, contact the Chapter Secretary. Ballots must be received by August 4 to be counted; ballots will be counted on Tuesday, August 5, at 10:30 am, and all employees of the Bargaining Unit (union members and non-members alike) are invited to attend.
And don't forget, the deadline for registering to vote in the primary is Monday, July 28.
- About the Proposed Contract. The United Faculty of Florida strongly recommends voting in favor of ratification of the proposed contract, which (if ratified) will provide an average 4 % merit raise, bar discrimination based on gender identity and expression, strengthen employee's first right to supplemental summer assignments, discourage teaching assignments that leave less than twelve hours between the end of the last class of the day and the beginning of the first class of the next, and preserve the existing layoff language, which has protected jobs across the state.
For details about the ratification, see the Biweekly Extra broadcast Monday.
- Note. There is an typo in the Bulletin in the ballot packet regarding the location where ballots will be counted. Ballots will be counted on Tuesday, August 5, at 10:30 am, in the Union Office in NEC 223.
- The Graduate Students. USF's graduate students are represented by a chapter of UFF, the Graduate Assistants United. The GAU is now bargaining a contract, and for their latest bargaining news, see below or click here.
- Meanwhile, for K-12 Teachers, More Voucher News. Most Florida Education Association members are teachers, and the Florida Education Association has just filed suit to stop a voucher expansion bill. Considering that not only are these our fellow educators but that similar innovations are penetrating higher education, this is of more than academic interest. For details, see below or click here.
The Graduate Students
Research universities, especially public research universities, depend heavily on their graduate students. With the budget stretched tight, and with the expensive infrastructure and personnel costs that research and scholarships entail, universities make do by shifting a lot of the teaching, research, and service load onto graduate students.
Academia has a long history of not wanting to think about sordid accounting issues, and that can reinforce a prejudice that students should be idealistic and willing to endure an apprenticeship in poverty in order to become a scholar. Geoffrey Chaucer's student at Oxford rode a hollow-cheeked horse and wore a threadbare cloak, and "would rather have had at his bed's head twenty volumes of Aristotle and his philosophy ... than rich robes or a fiddle or gay psaltery." And of course, "Gladly would he learn and gladly teach." Sidestepping the awkward question of how much of the Canterbury Tales consist of Fourteenth century stereotypes, graduate students nowadays are in their twenties (or older) and have families and other responsibilities. Other institutions have realized this and offer greater stipends and support to graduate students, putting USF at a competitive disadvantage.
Over the last few years, graduate students at FAMU, FSU, UF, and USF organized chapters of Graduate Assistants United (GAU), one of the four Bargaining Councils of the United Faculty of Florida (the other three being the faculty unions at the public universities, the public colleges, and the private institutions). One of the USF GAU's major accomplishments was winning health insurance, something that the USF UFF Biweekly Editor remembers was provided to graduate students once upon a time long, long ago, at a university far, far away (USF can be a little behind the curve).
The current 2011 - 2014 Collective Bargaining Agreement between the USF Board of Trustees and the USF graduate assistants is due to be succeeded by a new contract this year, and bargaining started this summer. The GAU has persuaded the USF Administration to more medical leave, inclusion of reasons for non-reappointment in letters of non-reappointment, and several largely non-monetary items. However, they are still bargaining two monetary items:
For more information, see the USF GAU website.
- Reducing fees levied on graduate students (they now are nearly 12 % of a typical GA's salary), which may startle those faculty who, like the UFF USF Biweekly editor, remember such fees being routinely waived when we were in graduate school: these fees are not routinely waived at USF.
- A raise (a typical graduate student's salary is just about the poverty line for single adult). Low graduate student salaries affect recruitment, performance, and retention.
Meanwhile, for K-12 Teachers, More Voucher News
The Florida Education Association (FEA) is going to court to fight a warm-and-fuzzy expansion of chartered schools. This expansion provides for public support to charter schools providing special education for developmentally disabled students. But this is Florida, where people go door to door soliciting funds for imaginary charities that print flyers featuring heart-tugging photos of puppy dogs and small children.
The Twenty-first century may well do for education what the Nineteenth did for medicine: distinguish what works from what doesn't and revolutionize people's lives. And in theory, chartering private schools would create an engine for innovation. In practice, charter schools have become akin to the Nineteenth century patent medicine industry, bottling morphine and cocaine and smacking on labels of rosy-cheeked babies (while handing campaign contributions to compliant legislators).
Returning to charter schools, the bill in question is Senate Bill 850, a legislative "Christmas Tree" decorated with school-related items from providing digital tools to stopping hazing to monitoring at-risk students to ... providing Personal Learning Scholarship Accounts for developmentally disabled students whose parents have been persuaded that their children would do better at charter schools. What disturbed the FEA was that tax dollars would be diverted from the public schools to a fund-disbursement program (admittedly one with warm-and-fuzzy packaging), and Florida's track record so far is not too good. FEA Vice President JoAnne McCall said, "The members of FEA are chagrined by the continued march to expand voucher schools that are largely unregulated, don't have to follow the state's academic standards, don't have to hire qualified teachers and don't have to prove to the state that they are using public money wisely."
FEA lawyer Ron Meyer said that the bill raised legal questions about the education the legislature was providing, but said that the FEA would focus (in this lawsuit) on the bill itself. Article III, Section 6 of the Florida State Constitution states that "Every law shall embrace but one subject and matter properly connected therewith, and the subject shall be briefly expressed in the title." SB 850's title takes twelve pages to enumerate all the ornaments on the 140-page Christmas tree. FEA's lawsuit suggested that the items of the Christmas tree had been assembled into a single bill "... because the Legislature had been unable to enact them in separate bills." McCall was more direct, saying that "[t]his was a sneaky way for the legislative leaders to enact measures that had already failed."
For educators, this will be an exciting century. Progress in cognitive science and educational psychology could effect a transformation in education as dramatic as the transformation of medicine during the Nineteenth. But that transformation was accompanied by a lot of huckster hype, and we should be careful before committing public funds and children's welfare to potential snake oil.
Chapter Meeting tomorrow Friday, June 25, 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.
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