IN THIS ISSUE
In real life, a union is many things, but legally, a union bargains and enforces a contract that applies to all the employees it represents. The contract determines the terms and conditions of employment, superseding management rules, regulations, and policies. And the terms and conditions of employment determined by the contract cannot be changed unilaterally: they must be bargained. By representing all employees in bargaining, the union can get a better deal than individual employees could if they dealt with management individually. And the union enforces the contract by filing formal complaints - grievances - when the contract is violated.
The faculty union - the USF Chapter of the United Faculty of Florida - represents all employees in the UFF USF Bargaining Unit. Roughly speaking, these are the USF faculty and professionals (excluding administrators, A&P and adjuncts) in the colleges of the Arts, Arts & Sciences, Behavioral & Community Sciences, Business, Education, Engineering, Global Sustainability, Honors, the libraries, Marine Science, Nursing, and Public Health, including chairs in Arts & Sciences and Education.
"Representation" is a tricky word. When the union bargains the contract, it represents everyone. But Florida has a "Right-to-Work" law, which means that employees in a bargaining unit are not required to join or contribute to the union that represents them in bargaining. However, the union is not required to represent non-members in grievances - and indeed, our state affiliate (which has the lawyers) will not represent an employee who was not a member at the time of the contract violation being grieved. Nevertheless, the union will soon mail copies of the contract to all employees in the UFF USF Bargaining Unit - so watch your mail, for this is the contract that determines the terms and conditions of your employment at USF.
The faculty and professionals of the UFF USF Bargaining Unit and the USF Board of Trustees have ratified the contract recently bargained by the USF Chapter of the United Faculty of Florida and the USF Administration. This contract is now in force, and should remain in force until succeeded on 7 August 2024. Let's take a look.
And a reminder. The Florida primary is on August 23 and the deadline to register to vote in the primary is July 25. For anyone voting by mail, the supervisors of elections will tend to send mail ballots during the week of July 14 - 21, so we recommend requesting a mail ballot before then. For more information, see the Florida Division of Elections; to check your current status as a voter, see the Voter Information Lookup page.
- About the Contract. Formally, the union is called the Collective Bargaining Agent for the employees in the UFF USF Bargaining Unit, and the contract is called the Collective Bargaining Agreement. For details on the new agreement, see below or click here.
Chapter Meeting Tomorrow at 12 Noon on Zoom
The USF Chapter of the United Faculty of Florida will meet tomorrow Friday at 12 noon on Zoom. On the agenda: the new contract, UFF's lawsuit on House Bill 233 (which mandated the "Viewpoint Diversity" Survey), the chapter's publicity machine, and more. And here are the minutes for the previous meeting.
Any employee in the Bargaining Unit may attend, but to Zoom in you must have an invitation: contact the Chapter Secretary to get one.
Meetings and events are posted on the Events Calendar of the UFF USF Website. Come and check us out.
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.
Yes, we have a contract, and by an interesting coincidence, UFF held a reception for newly-made-permanent President Rhea Law the afternoon after the Board voted in favor of ratification.
President Law among UFF USF officers. Left to right: Secretary Greg McColm, Treasurer Sonia Wohlmuth, Grievance Chair Karin Braunsberger, President Steve Lang, Chief Negotiator Bob Welker, USF President Rhea Law, and Membership Chair Debra Sinclair
But another effort by USF faculty, staff, and administrators has made national news. The Chronicle of Higher Education ran a feature story on The Student-Success Challenge : Engineering a better college experience requires more than tinkering around the edges
(USF library access required) whose lede is on USF's efforts: "USF - along with a growing number of large, diverse public institutions - is trying to engineer a better student experience by improving communication across offices, reorienting jobs, and creating new entities, like the Office of Academic Advocacy. This kind of change isn’t easy, nor does it come without challenges, but it has shown results: USF has boosted its four-year graduation rates by 33 percentage points since 2009." But "... getting the right help to every struggling student is hard," in part because of the bureaucracy facing students who might seek help (even if they thought help might be available), hence the need for guides like those in USF's Office of Academic Advocacy
. The office takes student inquiries and faculty referrals.
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
About the Contract
At 78 pages, the 2021 - 2024 Collective Bargaining Agreement can be a bit daunting, but employees should know the terms and conditions of their employment. We look at some of the high points.
Last week, the USF Chapter of the UFF held a reception for President Rhea Law. One of the speakers was our Chief Negotiator, Accounting Professor Robert Welker, who said that the most important part of the contract concerned academic freedom, and he read from Article 5 on Academic Freedom and Responsibility:
This is very important, for many employees in this country are subject to summary dismissal if they say something on the job - even expert advice concerning their vocation - that their employer does not like. In fact, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a district attorney may discipline a prosecutor for complaining to responsible officials about police misconduct: the First Amendment protects speech by private citizens, but does not protect public employees from administrative sanction. Our contract protects us from such administrative sanction.
Section 5.2 Academic Freedom is the freedom of an employee to discuss all relevant matters in the classroom, to explore all avenues of scholarship, research, and creative expression, to speak freely on all matters of university governance, and to speak, write, or act as an individual, all without institutional discipline or restraint.
On a related note, of the 1,492 employees currently in the UFF USF Bargaining Unit, approximately half are tenured (and another ninth are tenure-track), which provides an additional level of protection as well as the opportunity to take risks, e.g. following a line of research that might or might not pan out - an important matter in an era when metrics drive the production of papers and grants for producing more papers. Unfortunately, even though tenure was originally advanced to protect teachers who taught evolution and social welfare, it is now a perk for researchers. At any rate, the process for acquiring tenure is addressed in Article 15 on Tenure, which concludes with:
For non-tenured and tenure-track employees, Article 13 on Layoff and Recall provides protection to employees with seniority, as does Article 12 on Non-Reappointment, which also specifies the amount of notice permanent employees must have for non-reappointment (at least one semester for employees in their first two years of service, one year for everyone else).
Section 15.9 Termination/Layoff. Tenure guarantees annual reappointment for the academic year until voluntary resignation, retirement, removal for just cause in accordance with the provisions of the Article regarding Disciplinary Action and Job Abandonment, or layoff in accordance with the provisions of the Article regarding Layoff and Recall, but does not extend to administrative appointments.
Turning to the nuts and bolts, we have appointments, we get work assignments, we are annually evaluated on our performance (which can lead to promotion), and we get raises and / or bonuses.
If anything goes wrong, Article 20 on Grievance Procedure and Arbitration describes the process for filing a grievance. Any employee in the UFF USF Bargaining Unit may file a grievance, but only UFF members can get union representation - and the alternatives are to go it alone or pay for a lawyer. A grievance is a complaint that the contract has been violated, and specifying exactly how the contract was violated. (Warning: stupidity, incompetence, and bad judgment are not contract violations.) A grievance must be filed within 30 days of the alleged contract violation, so if you have been the victim of a contract violation, the clock is ticking.
- Article 8 on Appointment includes Section 8.3, which enumerates thirteen items (including employment unit, FTE, and principal place of employment) that must appear in offer letters, and then in Section 8.4, which says that except for raises and promotions, any changes in these items must be agreed to by the employee in writing. (Among other things, this means that employees cannot be involuntarily furloughed.)
- Article 9 on Assignment of Responsibilities says, among other things, in Section 9.3D, that "Each employee shall be given assignments which provide equitable opportunities, in relation to other employees in the same department/unit, to meet the required criteria for promotion, tenure, successive fixed multi-year appointments, and merit salary increases" and, in Section 9.8, that "Scheduled hours for all employees shall not normally exceed forty (40) hours per week. Time shall be allowed within the normal working day for research, teaching, or other activities required of the employee, when a part of the assigned duties."
- Article 10 on Employee Performance Evaluations states that "The annual performance evaluation shall be based upon assigned duties, and shall carefully consider the nature of the assignments, in terms, where applicable, of … Teaching effectiveness … Contribution to the discovery of new knowledge, development of new educational techniques, and other forms of creative activity … Public service … Participation in the governance processes … Other assigned university duties …"
Incidentally, subsection 10.3B provides for Sustained Performance Evaluations for periodically evaluating tenured faculty (a recurrent desideratum of some Florida legislators). This subsection says that only the annual evaluations conducted during the sustained performance evaluation period - and documents in the evaluation file - may be used in the sustained performance evaluations. Further, faculty annually rated at least satisfactory during the sustained performance evaluation period shall be rated at least satisfactory in the sustained performance evaluation.
- Article 14 on Promotion Procedure and Appendix G on Promotions address the procedure for promotion, and includes the requirement that "Promotion criteria shall be available in the department/unit office and/or at the college/unit level." Promotion raises are addressed in Article 8 on Appointment in Subsection 8.4C, which specifies a 9% raise for tenured faculty and librarians (along with $3,000 for promotion to assistant, $5,000 for promotion to associate, and $7,000 for promotion to full) and instructors.
- Article 23 on Salaries mandates a $2,000 bonus asap to all continuously employed satisfactory permanent employees who were here prior to 7 August 2021 and a 3.5% raise for satisfactory permanent employees who are here by 7 August 2022 and a 2% raise next year for satisfactory permanent employees who will be here by 7 August 2023 - "satisfactory" meaning rated at least satisfactory in the most recent annual evaluation and not having an active Performance Improvement Plan (see Section 10.3B(2)b on Performance Improvement Plans).
There are 31 articles and seven appendices, and there are links to all of them on the Contract Page. We urge all employees to become familiar with the contract, for these are the terms and conditions of our employment.
The next chapter meeting will be tomorrow Friday, June 24, at 12:00, on 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 email@example.com.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.