United Faculty of Florida -- USF System Chapter
15 June 2017
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Chapter Meeting Tomorrow in Tampa
The Chapter will meet tomorrow Friday at 12 noon in Perkins Restaurant in Tampa, on 5002 E. Fowler Ave. (at the intersection of E. Fowler Ave. and N. 50th Street, on the southeastern corner of USF Tampa). Lunch is on us, and all USF employees are invited, especially UFF members and employees thinking of becoming UFF members. Here is Friday's agenda.
The Chapter will meet this summer on June 16, June 30, July 14, July 28, and August 11, at 12 noon. All meetings - except the July 28 meeting - will be at Perkins Restaurant in Tampa on 5002 E. Fowler Ave.; the July 29 chapter meeting will be on USF St. Petersburg at a location TBD. Come and check us out.
$ 500 Travel Grants for UFF Members
The USF Chapter of the UFF will award six $ 500 Travel Scholarships for fall and spring. This will be for travel for participation in a professional activity. All applications are due by August 9, and only UFF members are eligible. In addition, no recipient of the Fall 2016 or Spring 2017 cycles of travel grants, and no member of the UFF USF Executive Committee, is eligible to apply. The six recipients shall be selected by lot at the August 11 chapter meeting. For more information, see the Travel Scholarship Flyer. There are two new conditions:
This initiative is part of our membership campaign. If you would like to become active in the UFF USF Membership Drive, contact the Membership Chair, Adrienne Berarducci (click here).
- When presented or published, any research or presentation facilitated by this grant must acknowledge that the work was partially supported by the United Faculty of Florida.
- After the work is presented or published, the recipient will compose a short (200 words or so) description of the research, scholarship, or creative work, for publication in the Biweekly.
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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; see also the main article (left).
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IN THIS ISSUE
Adjuncts, The Legislature, and the Constitution
On Tuesday, the SEIU - the union seeking to organize adjuncts at USF - asked the state labor agency for an election so that USF adjuncts could decide whether the SEIU would represent them in bargaining and grievances. The agency said we'll see. Meanwhile, last week the Legislature donned its armor, girded its loins and ... passed a budget - but the governor has just taken out his veto pen, so who knows what happens next. And the Florida Constitution Revision Commission has agreed to rules of conduct and is collecting proposals for amendments to appear on the ballot in 2018.
Meanwhile, tomorrow is National Ice Cream Soda Day. According to highly reliable internet sources, 140 years ago, at the World Fair in Philadelphia, a drug store clerk started serving ice cream in soda water to his customers - and kept running out of ice cream. Have a Happy Ice Cream Soda Day.
- Representing Adjuncts. The SEIU argued that there was sufficient interest among USF adjuncts (and that adjuncts were sufficiently employed) to justify an election to decide whether SEIU would represent them. For more, see below or click here.
- The Legislature's Special Session. The Legislature met last week to wrestle with the budget. But that may not be a wrap. For more, see below or click here.
- The Florida Constitution. The Florida state constitution governs critical issues from collective bargaining rights to the independence of the State University System. The vicennial Constitutional Revision Commission will propose amendments for the fall 2018 election. For an update, see below or click here.
A union seeking to represent USF adjuncts in bargaining and grievances presented its case before Florida's labor agency on Tuesday. The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) has been collecting cards - a petition - from adjuncts to present to the Florida Public Employees Relations Commission (PERC) in order to have an election, an election in which USF adjuncts would decide whether or not the SEIU would be their union.
In order to get an election, at least 30 % of the employees in a prospective bargaining unit have to sign cards. (Signing a card does not mean that the employee wants to have a union - only that the employee wants an election.) The election is by secret ballot and conducted by a third party designated by PERC. There are many complications (e.g., what kinds of jobs are appropriate for any kind of union representation, what positions should be in this bargaining unit if there is to be a union, did the union collect cards from 30 % of the employees in question, etc.), and that's what the hearing was for.
At the hearing, the SEIU was represented by Marcus Braswell of Sugarman & Susskind, a firm of eight lawyers founded in 1985 to "provide quality legal services for the benefit of working people and their pension and health insurance funds." The USF Board of Trustees was represented by John Dickinson and Dan Murphy of Costangy, Brooks,Smith & Prophete, LLP, a firm of over 190 lawyers which has "represented management exclusively since 1946."
The hearing took much of the day and featured adjuncts describing their jobs and administrators describing theirs. (For a sense of what adjuncts want, see the USF St. Petersburg's Crows' Nest article on Adjuncts: Joy of teaching dampened by poor pay, benefits.) Then the hearing was adjourned, for now, so stay tuned.
The Legislature's Special Session
The one thing that the Legislature is supposed to do is the one thing that the Legislature recently cannot bring itself to do - at least, not on time. That's to pass a budget. There was a sort of mess when the Legislature went home in May, and last week's special session was called to clean up the mess. Governor Rick Scott, House Speaker Richard Corcoran, and Senate President Joe Negron met and hatched a deal on what the special session would do, but that deal did not last a single news cycle. The special session lasted three days (and costed about $ 200,000), and ended with a collection of compromises which still left Florida's schools relatively unfunded.
Of course, part of any bargain includes Scott signing off on important items, and it is not clear what will happen if he vetoes some of them. For example, the governor has not signed House Bill 7069, which would divert resources to charter schools and is Corcoran's education priority. Scott is expected to sign HB 7069, but yesterday Scott surprised observers by vetoing Senate Bill 374, which had been Negron's higher education priority (this is where the pre-eminent university stuff was - see the Tampa Bay Times article on how USF's path to 'preeminence' is restored after Rick Scott vetoes higher education bill), and this veto came shortly after Negron wrote an open letter to Scott stressing the importance of higher education (and the environment). A bill ain't law until the governor signs it, and before then, all bets are off.
Meanwhile, the print version of the 14 June 2017 Oracle reports that USF responds to budget vetoes by Gov. Rick Scott: the Oracle reported that Scott vetoed money for cannibis research at and facilitated by the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center, and he cut funding for the Florida Institute of Oceanography, which is housed at USF. However, it appears that the state is still planning to provide most of the funding for most of USF's planned medical complex downtown.
The Florida Constitution
The Constitution of the State of Florida is nearly sixty thousand words words (as opposed to the U.S. Constitution, which is 7,591 words), and governs many critical issues, such as:
Every two decades, a Constitution Revision Commission proposes constitutional amendments to be presented to the voters. Anything goes: this commission's proposals are not vetted by the Legislature or the Supreme Court. As noted in the 12 January 2017 Biweekly, this year the governor and the legislative leadership appointed 33 members to this commission, and the Florida State Supreme Court chief justice appointed three. Meanwhile, there was all sorts of speculation about what this commission might propose - including doing away with collective bargaining rights.
- The State University System is governed by a Board of Governors, with each university governed by a Board of Trustees, all serving for staggered terms in order to protect their independence (at least in theory).
- Collective Bargaining is protected in a section that also allows employees to benefit from a contract bargained by a union they do not materially support (this is called "right to work"), thus shifting the burden onto their more responsible colleagues.
With the Legislature's antics dominating the state political news, the Commission's antics have gone largely under the radar. The Commission started meeting around the state and lots of people showed up - especially at Boca Raton and Orlando - with complaints about how the Commission was being run. This included complaints about transparency, and the media joined in. These complaints may have led to the decision to use the rules of the previous commission (with a few modifications).
As of this morning, there was no calendar of upcoming meetings.
Chapter Meeting tomorrow Friday, June 16, at Perkins Restaurant, on 5002 E. Fowler Ave., in Tampa.
We will have lunch at the meeting. 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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