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United Faculty of Florida -- USF Chapter
7 August 2021
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A Letter from the USF Chapter of the UFF

Chairman Will Weatherford
President Rhea Law
Provost & Executive Vice President Ralph Wilcox
Senior Vice Provost Dwayne Smith
Vice Provost Jim Garey
Senior Associate Vice President of USF Health Donna Petersen
General Counsel Gerard Solis


The University of Florida United Faculty of Florida and UF/Graduate Assistants United have recognized the COVID crisis by issuing a joint statement directed to the University of Florida administration, a portion of which Statement the University of South Florida UFF adopts and presents below.

The University of South Florida faces a real emergency. We simply cannot ignore the recent precipitous rise in COVID infections, pretending that plans that may have seemed reasonable even a few weeks ago are still up to today’s challenge.

The case for strategic reconsideration makes itself (using public data available 8/1/21):

  • Nationwide, COVID infection rates are doubling (or more) weekly, driven primarily by the spread of the Delta variant, which is much more easily and rapidly spread.
  • Governments—federal, state, and local—and businesses (Google, Disney, Publix, Ford, McDonalds, among many others) are taking strong measures to adapt to the new threat.
  • Evidence indicates that Delta may be spread by and to both vaccinated and non-vaccinated individuals.
  • On Saturday, July 31, Florida reported 21,683 new COVID cases: the highest one-day total so far.
  • As of Sunday, August 1, Florida reported a new record for COVID hospitalizations (10,207; exceeding the previous record set July 27).
  • Florida leads the nation for COVID hospitalizations per capita, in both overall and pediatric admissions.
The University must act quickly to continually adapt to these changing—and accelerating—dynamics, and seriously reconsider current Fall 2021 re-opening plans and protocols. Despite legal precedents dating back to 1905, when the U.S. government mandated universal vaccination against yellow fever, Governor DeSantis has decided that COVID vaccination and even mandatory mask-wearing is an unacceptable infringement on personal freedom in state institutions. We believe that is a serious, life-threatening error, and are appalled at his decision.

Failing such obvious, health-affirming options, we demand that USF and its Administration:

  • Strongly, publicly, and repeatedly encourage universal vaccination for all USF students, faculty, and staff (with exceptions for medical, religious, and other valid reasons). E-mail reminders are not enough and are often relegated to “junk” files. Instead, campus leaders of all types and levels must personally exhort—and model—such action.
  • Require at least weekly COVID testing for all unvaccinated individuals with continuation of prior quarantine protocols for those testing positive.
  • Similarly, require medically-approved, universal mask protection and material support for faculty, students and staff for all necessary in-person and/or indoor instruction and/or normal “office” functions.
  • Immediately provide remote learning teaching/learning options for all Fall 2021 class sections wherever possible, for all faculty and students, with expedited, clear petition/appeal procedures for faculty and graduate teaching/research assistants requesting and/or being denied off-site accommodation.
  • Reconsider requirements for vendors, visitors, et al. in light of recent escalating infection rates.
  • Publicly disclose USF methodology and decision processes and criteria regarding plans and actions designed to protect the health and safety of all on the USF campus. (Example: Data and sources used to estimate vaccination rates among students).
UFF-USF will continue to use our collective bargaining agreements to keep our members as safe as we can.

This is urgent. Lives, livelihoods and futures depend upon our acting now. USF must take a stand.

Respectfully submitted by
the Executive Committee of
The United Faculty of Florida at USF

Meanwhile, the USF Chapter has moved to initiate impact bargaining on the issue. The issue is on the agenda at the next USF Chapter meeting on Friday, August 13, at 12 noon, via Zoom: for an invitation, contact the Chapter Secretary.


What are unions good for? What do they do? What can they do? What is the faculty union doing? What can the faculty union do - with your help?

The United Faculty of Florida is holding a Town Hall meeting on unions - and in particular, your union, on Thursday, August 12 at 12 noon. The meeting is open to everyone, and in particular, we invite all faculty and professionals in the UFF USF Bargaining Unit to attend. The meeting will be on Zoom; for a Zoom invitation, contact the Chapter Secretary.

Join UFF Today!

Download, fill in, and mail or email 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.

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.


Next Chapter Meeting Friday, August 13, at 12 noon, via Zoom: for an invitation, contact the Chapter Secretary.

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 UFF USF members.

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