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UFF Biweekly
United Faculty of Florida -- USF System Chapter
4 June 2020
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Planning for Fall

Optimism is in the air. Schools and universities will be open in fall. Private institutions are also planning to open in August or September. Assuming the virus cooperates.

One of our national affiliates, the American Federation of Teachers, is less convinced that the virus will be cooperative and has proposed A Plan to Safely Reopen America's Schools and Communities, which features maintaining physical distancing until the number of new cases declines for at least two weeks, testing and tracing (and educating the public about the utility of testing and tracing), involve stakeholders (including teachers) in decision-making, and supporting the community.

Meanwhile, we are presented with the best-laid schemes of politicians and officials...

  • Fall. The state Board of Governors proposes that all universities gingerly reopen in Fall. For details, see below or click here.
But, as Robert Burns observed, the best-laid plans oft go awry. Some things that can go wrong, when administrators and supervisors are stressed, are contract violations.
  • What if... With consolidation and coronavirus at the same time, faculty are more likely to have trouble with their supervisors. For more, see below or click here.
By now, every employee in the UFF USF Bargaining Unit should have received a ballot packet for ratifying the Memorandum of Understanding described in the 20 May 2020 Biweekly Extra. If you have not received the ballot packet, contact the Chapter Secretary.

UFF believes that the Memorandum of Understanding is in the best interest of the university and its faculty and recommends that all faculty vote in favor of ratification.

UFF Statement on George Floyd

The United Faculty of Florida has posted a statement on the tragic death of George Floyd, who was killed by a policeman in Minneapolis - one of three recent deaths that have shocked the nation. In the statement, the UFF "strongly condemns not only the brutal murder of George Floyd, but the systemic racism that tries to excuse this and countless other acts of violence by law enforcement against Black Americans" and calls "upon our members, families, colleges, and communities to stand with us against racism in all its forms."

Here is the full statement.

Chapter Meeting Tomorrow on USF Tampa at noon on Zoom

The USF Chapter of the United Faculty of Florida will meet tomorrow, Friday, at noon on Zoom. On the agenda: reopening in Fall (including teaching online and the Memorandum of Understanding), government relations, and more.

We will meet tomorrow, and on June 19, July & 3 & 17 & 31, and August 14. Any employee in the Bargaining Unit may attend, but you must have an invitation: contact the Chapter Secretary. Meetings and events are posted on the Events Calendar of the UFF USF Website. Come and check us out.

USF United Support Fund for Food Pantries

Many of our students are struggling during this crisis, and the USF Foundation is supporting the USF Food Pantries to help out. They are accepting non-perishable donations, but one can also make monetary donations for the pantries at St. Petersburg, Sarasota / Manatee, and Tampa.

Join UFF Today!

In order to be a member of UFF, one has to join. To join, 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.

We are on Social Media

Yes, we are on social media.

If you want to help with media matters, contact the Communications Committee chair.


Last week, on Thursday, May 28, the Board of Governors of the Florida State University System agreed that universities in Florida will sort-of open classrooms this fall. They approved a Blueprint stating that:

In response, the USF Administration plan announced to the USF community proposed that there will be no change in the fall schedule, which will start on August 24 and end on December 10, as planned; but everyone will be online after Thanksgiving - and final exams will be conducted online. There are logistical difficulties. For example, while some classrooms (like some labs) were designed for up to 40 square feet per student, many were designed for less than 20. Maintaining a distance of at least six feet apart means at least 29 square feet each - 36 if they are lined up in rows. So we need a lot of larger classrooms. Worse, that six feet was not proposed for a large number of people in an enclosed space for an hour.

The fact that major stakeholders were left out of the loop does not inspire confidence. The United Faculty of Florida and our affiliate, the Florida Education Association (which represents K-20 teachers) has posted Higher Education Re-Opening Committee Guidelines : Priorities & Recommendations.

Despite the brave words about students being in classrooms in Fall, safely, many institutions are quietly lobbying the federal government to shield them from lawsuits by students, faculty, and staff who get sick. (And lawyers are preparing for lawsuits.) The risks were great enough to induce California State University to announce that the "virtual instruction" will continue through the end of the year, and there is some skepticism that institutions that announced that they will open in fall will actually have students in classrooms in September; the requirements listed in the blueprint posted by the American Federation of Teachers may be a bit rigorous for many institutions.

One major unknown is how much money the university will have to pay for all that it has to do this fall. Happily, USF leads all state universities in performance-based funding metrics (notice that incoming House Speaker Chris Sprowls - of northern Pinellas - said, "Congratulations to the students, faculty and administration of the University of South Florida..."), which may shelter us a little during the fiscal storms ahead. But the governor is still awaiting events before signing the budget, and until we see what he is willing to fund, we do not know what resources USF will have for protecting people on campus, for running classes, and for maintaining infrastructure.

The University of Kentucky has gone out on a limb and announced that they will not be laying off staff, but many other institutions may not be able to make such a commitment.

NOTE: For more links about the pandemic and reopening, see our webpage.

What if...

All employees in the UFF USF Bargaining Unit are protected by the UFF USF Bargaining Agreement (the contract), which determines the terms and conditions of our employment. It has priority over university policies and procedures and binds administrators and supervisors. But administrators and supervisors are only human, and during stressful situations - like a consolidation or a pandemic - they may ignore or violate the contract. The contract itself fixes a mechanism for enforcing the contract, a grievance process.

A grievance is a formal complaint that the contract has been violated. It specifies what item in the contract was violated and how it was violated, and it specifies the desired remedy. For example, if an employee is informed two weeks before classes start that s/he is being laid off, s/he could file a grievance under Section 13.4 (on page 30) stating that s/he should have received six months or twelve months notice (depending on her seniority); the Administration would then have to justify its precipitate action. (Incidentally, the Grievance Form is on pages 91 - 92 of the contract.) A grievance must be filed within thirty days of the time "the grievant knew or reasonably should have known" of the violation.

Assignments are a special case: they cannot be made "arbitrarily or unreasonably." If, for example, an employee is assigned a course outside of his field, s/he would file an Exclusive Assignment Dispute Resolution Form (on pages 100 - 102 of the contract). Like grievances, an employee has thirty days to file the form.

All 1,600+ employees in the UFF USF Bargaining Unit have access to the grievance process, but only dues-paying members of UFF have the right to union representation in a grievance. Even then, the grieving employee must have been a member at the time of the contract violation; an employee cannot wait until the violation occurs and then join. The reason for this restriction is that the union's grievance system involves consulting with lawyers, and lawyers are expensive (and they are paid with union dues).

If you are a UFF member and your contract rights were violated, contact the Grievance Committee (you may go directly to their online form) or sent us an email. Remember, a grievance must be filed within thirty days of the time that you knew or should have known of the grievance, so don't delay.


Chapter Meeting tomorrow Friday, June 4, at noon, via Zoom. All UFF USF members are welcome: for the Zoom link, contact the Chapter Secretary.

All UFF members are invited to attend. Non-members are also invited to come and check us out. To get the link to Zoom, contact the Chapter Secretary. 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 or contacting the Chapter Secretary. If you do not receive the Biweekly, but want to, contact the Chapter Secretary.