Once upon a time, state and local party leaders would meet in a caucus - or in a smoke-filled room off of a convention hall - and select their party's candidates for national, state, or local elections (depending on what level the caucus or convention was for). A century ago, reformers badgered parties and governments to hold direct primary elections, in which ordinary members of the two leading political parties could vote for the candidates they wanted to nominate. Nowadays, not only nominations but also non-partisan races (e.g. board of education members, judges, tax boards, etc.) and occasionally referenda appear on the primary ballots.
Florida's primary election is on August 28 (Tuesday on the second week of classes), and the deadline to be registered to vote in the primary election is Monday, July 30. We strongly encourage everyone to register and to vote in the primary election: to register, go to the Florida Division of Elections website. In this issue:
UFF members and families are invited to a Rowdies Group Night with the Rowdies on July 28, starting with a Tailgate at 6 pm and then a game at 7:30 pm. It will be at Al Lang Stadium, and kids will be able to participate in the pre-game rally tunnel. For more information, see the flyer. RSVP is necessary (contact Steve Lang), and this is for UFF members and their families - but feel free to join today!
The USF Chapter of the United Faculty of Florida will meet tomorrow Friday at noon on USF Tampa in the Marshall Student Center. We will meet in the Sabal Room, on the third floor, to the right and around the corner from Top of the Palms. We will have lunch at Top of the Palms, and all USF employees are invited.
This is the last meeting of the chapter this summer; we will resume meetings in the fall. Come and check us out.
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; see also the main article (left).
Visit the United Faculty of Florida at USF Facebook page. This page is a place where UFF members can exchange thoughts and ideas. The page is "public", but only dues-paying UFF members are eligible to post items on the page. If you are a UFF member, ask to join on the page, or contact the Communications Committee. The Committee will invite every UFF member that asks to join. So check us out. UFF members are welcome to join, and non-members are welcome to look.
It's almost a cliché that come November, voters grump about the choice the parties gave them. Of course, the candidates were nominated in late summer in the primaries. Most voters don't bother to vote in the primaries, which magnifies the power of those who do vote. Eighty percent of politics, like eighty percent of life, is showing up.
According to the Florida Division of Elections, midterm primary turnout in Florida has declined dramatically during the last half century:
This should be a surprise, since the nominees for governor are chosen in the primary, and the governor's office has been accumulating considerable power over the last two decades. In addition, not only are many nominees for important local races chosen in the primaries, but also many nonpartisan officers and representatives are elected in the primary. Local officials handle zoning decisions, schools, traffic laws, law enforcement, infrastructure, things that have immediate impact on our lives.
But voters who get their news from the national media may not be paying attention. Once upon a time, a former Speaker of the House advised that all politics is local. People tended to vote on issues that affected them. But that was when much of the media was local. As 538 recently observed, as the media (both mainstream and internet) has become national, so politics has become national. Local news has become scarce as newspapers disappeared (Tampa Bay used to have two major metropolitan dailies, but the Tribune folded in 2016, and as for the Times, over the last two decades its staff has shrunk from 400 to 140). So local issues (and local officials) became less prominent. Nowadays, many of us only see elected officials and candidates when their election year flyers arrive in our mailboxes.
But remembering that power flows to those who show up, perhaps we should pay attention. And local news still exists. For example:
And returning to the gubernatorial election, both parties have quite distinct candidates to choose from, and considering the importance of the governor in education issues, we strongly encourage everyone to vote - and to take their vote seriously - in the primary. Legislators in both houses - and of course, school board members - are also important to education.
All counties will have early primary voting available from August 18 to August 25; some counties may have some additional early voting days. To check dates, times, and locations for early voting, go to the website of your friendly neighborhood Supervisor of Elections:
The nominated candidates will run in the General Election on November 6, and the deadline for registering to vote in the General Election is October 9.
In the previous issue, the Biweekly reported that the U.S. Supreme Court had ruled in Janus v. AFSCME that unions and public agencies could not sign contracts requiring employees represented by the union but not members of the union to pay "agency fees" to cover the costs (in collective bargaining, contract enforcement, etc.) of representation. This was not a surprise, and during the past few decades, as the U.S. Supreme Court grew gradually more hostile towards employee rights, some unions began to anticipate and prepare for a Janus-like decision.
While some union sympathizers suggest finessing the ruling, AFSCME's response was that unions will simply have to persuade the employees they represent to be members. "The only way to preserve a vibrant union is for workers themselves to want it, work for it, and pay for it," wrote the president of AFSCME. This arises from the view of a union as a mutual aid organization rather than a remote agency providing services in return for dues.
In line with this hardnosed response, some states are moving to replicate Florida's arrangement. The Florida state constitution guarantees our right to unionize, but it also doesn't require represented employees to join. The courts consequently ruled that Florida unions don't have to represent non-members in grievances, and in fact, our state affiliate (the Florida Education Association) does not permit UFF to represent any employee in a grievance who was not a member when the contractual violation occurred. Now that the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that no public employees can be required to join or pay agency fees, states are moving to allow unions to deny representation in grievances to non-members - and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has just signed a bill doing just that.
While some anti-union organizations have launched campaigns to persuade employees to quit their unions, some conservatives see this decision as an opportunity for both conservatives and unions to rethink their positions and find common ground on issues where their interests are aligned.
This (relatively) moderate reaction may reflect part of a growing concern that in this hyper-partisan era, the center isn't holding and things are flying apart. The Janus decision - a 5-4 decision overturning a longstanding unanimous precedent - seems more a product of hyper-partisanship than legal reasoning. If Washington has gone to pieces, it may be up to the grass roots to pull things back together. And unions should be grass roots.
Chapter Meeting tomorrow Friday, July 27, at noon, on USF Tampa, in MSC 3700 (the Sabal Room).
NOTE: We regret that the Chapter's off-campus website is down. We apologize for the inconvenience. For the time being, we will be using http://www.ourusf.org, vut our e-mail address is still firstname.lastname@example.org.
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