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United Faculty of Florida -- USF System Chapter
7 August 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.

This will be the last Chapter Meeting this summer. Chapter meetings will resume after classes start, times TBA.

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. 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.

Grievances

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

We have a contract! It's been ratified! Break out the champagne and thank your Chief Negotiator and his Bargaining Team.

  • The New Contract. The 2014 2017 Collective Bargaining Agreement will govern the terms and conditions of our employment for the next three years. That does not mean that there will be no bargaining for three years: each year, there will be a "reopener" to determine things like raises. For details, see below or click here.
  • The Primaries. The deadline has passed for registering to vote in the August 26 primaries, which are sort of up in the air. However, the primary elections determine who will be the candidates in the fall election, so if you want your party to run good candidates, be sure to vote!
  • Building Funds. And as an example of an election issue, consider the fund for academic construction. For a variety of reasons, funds are low. For details, see below or click here.

The New Contract

It took a while, but we have a contract. The two chief negotiators tentatively agreed to a new contract, but in order for it to come into force, it had to be ratified by the 1,563 faculty and professionals in the UFF USF Bargaining Unit, and by the USF Board of Trustees. UFF conducted a ratification election, and of the 446 ballots received, 443 were in favor of ratification, 2 were against, and 1 was disqualified. Meanwhile, the Board voted unanimously in favor of ratification.

Thanks to all employees who took the time to go through the ratification materials and cast a vote.

The USF Administration has promised to process the merit raises expeditiously, so they should appear in your paychecks shortly. Meanwhile, a few important points about the contract:

  • Know the contract! The contract has priority over university rules and regulations, over the Faculty Handbook, and over instructions from supervisors. It is a legally binding document, enforceable in court. And we have posted it online.
  • There will be two rounds of mini-bargaining during the life of the contract. The raises of 2015 and 2016 will be bargained during two rounds of "reopener" bargaining. What the raises should be - and how they should be distributed - are critical issues for faculty morale and retention. The Bargaining Team will be seeking guidance on these issues.
  • The contract protects your rights - if you use it. The contract is just a piece of paper. If your supervisor violates your contractual rights, you have to act to make things right. If you are a UFF member at the time of the violation, UFF will represent you: just contact the Grievance Committee. And do it fast: the contract permits thirty days from the time of the violation to file a grievance. (If you are not a UFF member, UFF cannot represent you in a grievance: union dues pay the staff and legal expenses for grievances.)
One last thing. There seem to be some urban legends about what the union permits or requires. Two points about these urban legends. First of all, the only things that the union can require of the Administration is what state and federal law requires and what both sides agree to in bargaining. And secondly, what both sides have agreed to is the contract. So if someone claims that the union won't let faculty wear shorts on Fridays, check the contract: if there is nothing about shorts or Fridays in the contract, it's a myth.

Building Funds

One of the most visible indicators of a political establishment's concern for education is the state of the academy's physical plant. In Florida, that physical plant is deteriorating - something for friends of education to think about this coming election season.

Academic construction sometimes seems to live in an alternate economy. In the past, while academics were being cut back, funds poured into building and remodeling. We were told that the money came from different pots, but that was only part of the story.

Although academic spending is an effective way to tide underemployed youngsters through recessions while reinvigorating the economy, it is easier to get politicians to fund building projects - which also tide underemployed youngsters and invigorate the economy. In the past, when times were hard, construction barreled ahead because that was something positive the politicians could do.

But Florida is in a new abnormal.

In Florida, academic construction, remodeling, and maintenance is supported by the Public Education Capital Outlay (PECO), which takes various utility taxes and uses them to pay for school, college, and university buildings. This does not happen automatically: PECO floats bonds (Moody's rates PECO as Aa1 - "high quality and very low credit risk" according to Wikipedia) and distributes money as the legislature directs. PECO has two problems.

The first problem is an old one: tax receipts are declining. As we consumers grow more efficient, we spend less on utilities and thus less in taxes, so PECO gets less money. In 2011, the Florida Current claimed that between increasing energy efficiency and the post-2008 recession, Capital outlay estimates take a dive; outlook grim for higher education. Yes, Florida colleges and universities have gotten a lot of PECO money, and as that revenue stream dried up, there was less money for our buildings.

The Florida Office of Economic and Demographic Research estimates that total K-20 PECO revenue fell from nearly two billion dollars annually during 2006 - 2008 down to $ 74 million during 2012 - 2013 (the ECDR estimated that PECO revenue during the coming year would be about half a billion). The ECDR does not foresee a major ballpark change during the rest of this decade.

This has not encouraged the legislature to either seek new revenue or to conserve the revenue PECO currently receives. In fact, the legislature is treating PECO as a pork barrel for political friends.

This brings us to PECO's second problem. In 2011 and 2012, charter schools received all PECO funding allocated to K-12 education, and in 2013, charter schools received over 80 % of PECO funding allocated to K-12 education. This last session, the Legislature allocated 60 % of all K-12 PECO funding to charter schools even though only 9 % of Florida students are in charter schools.

These diversions have consequences, besides the spectacle of public money paying for private buildings. In Alachua County, parents, teachers, and other volunteers are painting schools. In Marion County, school administrators don't have funding for air conditioners and other infrastructure required for computer labs.

We should not pretend that this could not happen to higher education. After all, not only are there private institutions, there are for-profit institutions that make campaign contributions. And at the moment, higher education does receive a substantial portion of the PECO pot, a portion that could attract jealous attention.

LOGISTICS

Chapter Meeting tomorrow Friday, August 8, 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.

If you do not want to receive the UFF Biweekly, you can unsubscribe below. If you do not receive the Biweekly, but want to, e-mail a message to gmccolm@tampabay.rr.com.