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UFF Biweekly
United Faculty of Florida -- USF System Chapter
20 May 2021
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Fall is Not That Far Away

Summer school started this week, and Fall may seem like a million years away, but USF is already planning to reopen in Session B, possibly to appease Tallahassee, possibly as a way to stick its toe in the water to see if it gets bitten off.

  • Face-to-Face. The pandemic is not over - and some experts don't expect it to be over for some time now - but across the country governments and institutions are making plans and commitments for reopening in fall. (And even around the world - Monet's garden will soon reopen.) For details, see below or click here.
  • At USF. UFF conducted a survey on faculty concerns about teaching in fall, and the Collective Bargaining Agreement provides a mechanism for dealing with safety issues on the job. For details, see below or click here.
And a reminder...

Chapter Meeting Tomorrow on Zoom

The USF Chapter of the United Faculty of Florida will meet tomorrow Friday at 12 noon on Zoom. On the agenda: reopening the university, the USF Forest Preserve, USF finances, and more. And here are the minutes for the previous meeting.

Any employee in the Bargaining Unit may attend, but you must have an invitation: contact the Chapter Secretary to get one. We are meeting on alternate Fridays at noon over Zoom. Meetings and events are posted on the Events Calendar of the UFF USF Website. Come and check us out.

Tailgate Social in Fall

UFF will sponsor a Tailgate Social for the first home football game, USF Bulls vs. the Florida Gators on 11 September 2021. The game will be at Raymond James stadium in Tampa. The exact time of kickoff is TBA due to television schedules. Regardless, we are planning a tent, chairs, coolers, and food for fifty UFF members and families members before the game. In the past, our Tailgates have been at a prime location to watch the bands and players enter, meet up with Rocky, and enjoy the fans.

RSVP to Steve Lang if you plan to participate and let us know who is coming (like a spouse or children). We will need to order food and maybe extra chairs.

If you already have tickets to the game, that’s great! Otherwise, you can get tickets at the Go USF Bulls (Football Tickets) website. For the last few years there was an employee discount, so call them and ask. If you do not have tickets and would like UFF to ask for a group or tickets together, then let us know ASAP and we will try to arrange it. This game will be sold out! No one actually knows what the mask or vaccination policy will be at Raymond James Stadium at this time.

Please provide an email so that we can update folks with information about the time of the game, location of the Tailgate, parking, food choices, and tickets.

We have had some really great tailgate parties in the past few years at the Rays, Rowdies, and USF Bulls, so hopefully this will be a back-to-normal event.

Join UFF Today!

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. Here is the membership form. Come and join the movement.


If you have been the victim of a violation of the Collective Bargaining Agreement or the recent Memorandum of Understanding, 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 Grievances Page.

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.

We are on Social Media

Yes, we are on social media.

  • We have a Facebook group: see United Faculty of Florida at USF. 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, and the moderator will invite every UFF member that asks to join. Non-members are welcome to look (but you need a Facebook account to do that). So check us out.
  • We have a blog: see The USF Faculty Blog. This has news items as they come up.
  • We are twitter-pated: follow us on Twitter via @UffUsf.
  • We even have a You-Tube channel: check out our videos
If you want to help with media matters, contact the Communications Committee chair.


USF Professor Norma Alcantar of the Department of Chemical, Biological and Materials Engineering, has just been inducted into the Florida Inventors Hall of Fame. Professor Alcantar received the Excellence in Innovation Award from the National Academy of Inventors, where she is now a Senior Member, and she is a member of the board of directors of the USF Research Foundation, and a member of UFF. She is probably best known for her work using cactus mucilage for water filtration. We congratulate her on this award.


We are social primates, and talking at images of people inside rectangular boxes is a pale substitute for talking face to face. For example, after a year and a half online, Florida schoolchildren have fallen behind, particularly in mathematics. Unfortunately, in the midst of a pandemic whose contagion spreads through exhaled aerosols, talking face to face is dangerous. This is why the national teachers' unions - the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association - pushed for reopening schools once it was safe to do so.

In a surprise move, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that, "fully vaccinated people can resume activities without wearing a mask or physically distancing, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance." In response to the CDC announcement, Busch Gardens, Disney, Universal Orlando, and some other theme parks will allow fully vaccinated attendees to go maskless in many locations, but will not require proof of vaccination.

UFF's two national affiliates are the National Education Association (NEA) and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT). The NEA issued a call for vaccinating all students and the AFT issued a call for students and teachers to go back to the classrooms in fall. But there are still concerns.

First of all, notice the qualification: the upbeat advisory is for people who are fully vaccinated, which raises a question: how do we know if someone is fully vaccinated? (Cynics will not be surprised that there is a market in fake vaccination cards.) When PBS Newshour anchor Judy Woodruff interviewed CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky and asked, "But this truly is an honor system, is it not?" Walensky replied, "... more than calling it an honor system, I might say people are responsible for their own health." Of course, unvaccinated unmasked people can pose a problem for other people as well, which led the Washington Post to ask, "Do we trust each other enough to make it work?." The experts have their doubts.

Meanwhile, how effective are the vaccines? Both the official study and a recent (and as yet unrefereed) study suggests that unvaccinated people were about four times as likely to test positive then people who had received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Professor Ana Bento of Indiana-Bloomington told Wired that, "Johnson & Johnson’s was 100 percent effective at preventing hospitalization and death, 85 percent effective against severe cases, and 72 percent effective at preventing moderate illness...," which underlined the recent announcement that eight New York Yankees employees who had received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine tested positive.

Perhaps more alarming is the news from the Seychelles, where over 61 % of the population has been fully vaccinated - admittedly not with the FDA-approved vaccines. Last week, about 2.7 % were infected (and about a third of those infected had been vaccinated). On the one hand, no vaccinated people got "critical" or "severe" cases of COVID-19; on the other hand, 61 % is apparently far from herd immunity.

"...your advisors are frequently divided," warned President Kennedy, and after you have acted, for good or bad, "[t]he advisers may move on to new advice." The public face a similar situation. But on one point the advisors are in agreement: get the shots. The Chronicle of Higher Education has identified 356 colleges and universities that are requiring at least some students and employees to get shots - including 21 of the 27 private members of the American Association of Universities, and 16 of the 36 public members. Even the AAU, it seems, bends to statehouse preferences.


For the past few weeks, UFF USF has been conducting an anonymous online survey of faculty and professionals in the UFF USF Bargaining Unit, and so far we have received 206 responses - over a ninth of the Bargaining Unit. (The survey is still open if you would like to respond.) Here are some results (as of now):

  • Only 48 % of the respondents have been on a USF campus so far this year.
  • In answer to the question, "How satisfied are you with USF's plan to reopen safely in the summer and fall of 2021 with the COVID19 virus?" 10 % were very satisfied, 20 % were satisfied, 27 % were neither satisfied nor dissatisfied, 24 % were dissatisfied, and 18 % were very dissatisfied. The most common comments were that it was not clear what the reopening plan was, that students (and for some respondents, staff and faculty) should be vaccinated, that fall was too soon or that safety was uncertain, and that ventilation and filtration needed to be upgraded.
  • In answer to the question, "How satisfied are you with the information provided by USF about the COVID19 virus?" 18 % were very satisfied, 27 % were satisfied, 23 % were neither satisfied nor dissatisfied, 13 % were dissatisfied, and 8 % were very dissatisfied. The comments consisted largely of complaints about the inadequacy of USF communication compared with other universities and / or public health authorities.
  • In response to the question, "Please check the 5 interventions that you would most like to see USF implement in order to create a safe working environment," the top three were upgraded air conditioning (with filters designed for viruses) 78 %, requiring masks on campus 74 %, requiring vaccinations 67 %, limiting students in a room to social distancing of six feet 58 %, and tracing all positive cases of COVID19 58 %.
  • In response to the question, "How concerned are you for your safety while working on campus at USF?" 32 % are a great deal concerned, 21 % are a lot, 25 % are a moderate amount, 16 % are a little, and 7 % are not at all. One recurring comment was from respondents who reported that they or people that they lived with had compromised immunity.
  • In response to the question, "Has your college or department discussed layoffs or reductions due to the economic consequences of the COVID19 virus?" 53 % said yes.
  • In response to the question, "How much were you involved in planning your college or department response to the economic crisis?" 1 % said a great deal, 8 % said a lot, 17 % said a moderate amount, 17 % said a little, and 58 % said not at all.
  • In response to the question, "What is the mode of teaching that you prefer for fall of 2021?" 26 % said face-to-face, 18 % said hybrid, and 42 % said online. But in response to the question, "What is the mode of teaching that is assigned for you for fall of 2021?" 48 % said face-to-face, 17 % said hybrid, and 17 % said online. A number of faculty requested to teach online but were denied; interestingly, a number of faculty did not know their fall assignments as of the end of April.
  • In response to the question, " How satisfied are you with technical support (CANVAS, TEAMS, classroom computers, etc.) for teaching or research in the COVID19 environment at USF?" 18 % were very satisfied, 39 % were satisfied, 24 % were neither satisfied nor dissatisfied, 12 % were dissatisfied, and 7 % were very dissatisfied. There were a number of complaints about MS Teams, especially in comparison with Zoom.
  • In response to the question, "Are you familiar with FMLA (Family and Medical Leave Act)?" 73 % said yes.
  • In response to the question, "Has the COVID19 virus caused you to consider leaving USF by retiring, resigning, or changing professions?" 31 % said yes. Many commentators said that they considered leaving, but for additional reasons, including actions of the USF Administration, hostile legislation, the local anti-intellectual environment, problems with students, lack of staff support and other resources, consolidation, and a heavy work load.
  • And of course, we asked "Are you familiar with the Collective Bargaining articles on Appointment (Article 8) or Layoff and Recall (Article 13)?" to which 54 % said yes, and "Are you familiar with the Collective Bargaining article on Safe Conditions (21.3)?" to which 34 % said yes, and "Are you familiar with the [Memorandum of Understanding] bargained between USF and UFF that applies to the COVID emergency?" to which 37 % said yes.
So let's conclude with a few words about Article 21.3 of the UFF USF Collective Bargaining Agreement on Safe Conditions on page 64. It says: Whenever an employee reports a condition which the employee feels represents a violation of safety or health rules and regulations or which is an unreasonable hazard to persons or property, such conditions shall be promptly investigated. The appropriate administrator shall reply to the concern, in writing, if the employee's concern is communicated in writing. Notice that this rule applies to rules and regulations in general, including those promulgated by public health agencies. And such a report shall be investigated promptly, and a response made in writing (if the report was in writing). UFF also recommends that a violation of public health guidelines - such as those promulgated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - also be reported. UFF members may seek assistance from the UFF USF Grievance Committee in making such a report.


Chapter Meeting tomorrow Friday, May 21, at 12 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 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.

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