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UFF Biweekly
United Faculty of Florida -- USF System Chapter
18 May 2023
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Getting Organized

Now that the legislative session is over - and the litigation begins [USF login required] - building the union is a priority. Union membership and active union membership is always a priority - we can do more for our members if we have more members (for members bring clout) and if our members are more active (more hands get the job done). But now, the union is under the gun, and in order to keep the our staff and lawyers, we need our members to shift to dues payment by eDues. And in order to keep our certification to bargain and enforce the contract, we need 60% of the employees we represent to join.

This means union-building. We start with the bottom line.

  • We Are Stronger Together. A lone employee is at a disadvantage when dealing with Management. That's part of what unions are for. For details, see below or click here.
Meanwhile, unions now seem to be on the political griddle, and that may be a reflection on how built unions currently are.
  • Public and Political Opinion Unions are affected by both public opinion and the political process, so they have to address them both. For details, see below or click here.
A union works best if most of the employees it represents are members, for that keeps it in touch with the grass roots. And recent events make it clear that a union needs to have most of the employees it represents as members in order to function. So if you are a UFF member and would like to help build the union, contact the Chapter Secretary; and if you are not a UFF member, join today.

Chapter Meeting Tomorrow Friday at 12 noon on USF Tampa in EDU 161 - and on Zoom

The USF Chapter of the United Faculty of Florida will meet tomorrow Friday at 12 pm on USF Tampa in EDU 161 - and on Zoom. On the agenda: eDues, legislation and litigation, the organizing campaign, 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.


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.

We are Stronger Together

Strictly speaking, a union bargains and enforces a contract. There may be many other things that it does - depending on what its members want - but the contract is what it is about.

One advantage of having a union that bargains a contract is that once it is ratified, Management can't simply change it unilaterally. For example, when the Covid pandemic hit and many institutions turned to furloughs and layoffs, Article 8 of our contract made furloughs out of the question while Article 13 of our contract made layoffs difficult and unattractive. And the contract could not be changed unilaterally, so UFF USF employees were protected against furloughs and layoffs.

And union support makes a difference when an employee's contractual rights have been violated. The contract is enforced by a grievance process, which handles complaints that the contract was violated. There are three steps in the grievance procedure, which is fixed Article 20 of our contract:

  • Step 1 includes an informal resolution status when both sides try to resolve the matter quietly. If that doesn't work…
  • Step 2 entails a "meeting" of the grievant and/or grievant's representative with the Administration's representative. If that doesn't work…
  • Arbitration before a neutral arbitrator. By bringing in a neutral party, the system is kept honest.
Right now, there are three outstanding grievances in Step 1, two more at Step 2, and three facing Arbitration. And the Grievance Committee addresses other issues as well. Never a slow day in the Grievance Committee. (And if you would like to help out by joining the Grievance Committee, contact the Chapter Secretary.)

There are two caveats to keep in mind about grievances.

  • All UFF USF employees have access to the UFF USF grievance process, but only UFF members have the right to union representation. Non-members must either go it alone or hire a lawyer.
  • An employee has thirty days from the time of the violation - or the time that the employee knew or should have known of the violation - to file the grievance.
This spring, the Legislature passed a bill (see lines 274-284) barring arbitration for many grievances. This is probably unconstitutional, which means we can expect litigation on this point. But it also shows that the union has to be involved in the political process.

Public and Political Opinion

In 2021, Pew Research reported that Majorities of Americans say unions have a positive effect on U.S. and that decline in union membership is bad. This may be the result of growing inequality in the United States - as well as harsh, hostile, and hectic job conditions.

Americans recognize unions as a check and balance on management.

Unions are now such a polarizing issue that a time long ago and a place far away when unions were … normal … seems almost unimaginable. But Once Upon a Time, back in the 1950s, a third of all American employees were union members, and Conventional Wisdom held that there was Big Business, Big Labor, and, holding the scales, Big Government. Unions were so mainstream that that Doris Day could star in a musical about a union grievance officer and a personnel director who fall in love...

The Pajama Game
But something happened. Some sociologists point to the general decline in church attendance, sports club memberships, professional society activities, and citizen engagement in general. What caused this is unclear. While the conspiracy theorists point to The Powell Memo, some sociologists blame television (Americans increasingly watched Monday Night Football rather than go to the PTA). For whatever reason, two decades later, when only a fifth of all American employees were union members and unions were not quite as mainstream, Sally Field starred in an edgier film about forming a union in the face of ferocious management opposition…
And now about a tenth of all American employees are union members while a majority of Americans say (perhaps wistfully) that unions are good, that the decline of unions are bad, and perhaps, wouldn't it be nice to be a member of one…

Winston Churchill said of the Soviets, "… I am convinced that there is nothing they admire so much as strength, and there is nothing for which they have less respect than for weakness…" The Soviets are not alone in this; politicians in general tend to be more responsive to powerful interests. And for a volunteer organization like a union, clout comes from its membership.

Long ago, UFF stalwart Roy Weatherford encountered Governor Bob Graham on an airplane, and Weatherford took the opportunity to talk up the union's agenda. The first question Graham asked was, how many members do you have?

As for party politics, like many other unions, the United Faculty of Florida deals with politicians of whatever party who will deal with us, for unions are not necessarily partisan. There is no American Labor Party, and union relations with the two major political parties is...complicated. While unions were once part of the old New Deal coalition that dominated the Democratic Party long before our current students were born, Democratic support for union priorities have declined as union membership declined [USF access required]. Meanwhile, despite their business connections, the Republican Party has a history of concern for workers (e.g., after a Republican Congress passed an 8-hour-day law for government employees, Republican President Grant ordered that there would be no commensurate pay cuts), but during the Twentieth century, Republican Party platforms have tracked union membership.

Rebuilding the unions will also rebuild union clout. And translating public sympathy into public support will require rebuilding. So the recruiting campaigns - for eDues, for members, for activists - is more than a response to a legislative mandate. It's about making the union a more effective advocate for the employees it represents.


The next chapter meeting will be tomorrow Friday, May 19, at 12 noon on USF Tampa campus in EDU 161 and on Zoom; for the Zoom link, contact the Chapter Secretary. All UFF USF employees are welcome.

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.

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