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UFF Biweekly
United Faculty of Florida -- USF System Chapter
13 July 2023
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IN THIS ISSUE

What the Contract Says About Job Security

One of the most important items in any employment contract is job security. Employees can't be fired simply because their boss had a bad day; there is a process and, in many cases, there has to be a reason.

  • Non-renewals, Layoffs, Dismissals, and Getting Fired. There are lots of ways to lose one's job, and the contract governs all of them. For details, see below or click here.
And now a reminder of what can happen if one doesn't have a contract...
  • Academic Freedom... belongs to the institution, not the individual faculty member, according to some judges (who would claim that judicial independence belongs to individual judges). For a cautionary tale, see below or click here.
The (statewide) United Faculty of Florida is a union local of the Florida Education Association, which is jointly affiliated with both the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association (NEA). With over two million members - about 0.7% of the population of the United States - the NEA is the largest union in the nation.
  • The Assembly in Orlando. Last week, 5,455 representatives from all across the country met in Orlando to hear reports and speeches, set policy, and elect leaders for the next term. For details, see below or click here.

Reminder. Effective Saturday, July 1, UFF members no longer pay dues by dues deduction. But in order to remain in the union, you must pay dues - which are 1% of salary. If you are a union member and have shifted to eDues, thank you. If you are a union member and you have not shifted to eDues, please get the "I'm sticking with my union" eDues email and shift today. For more information, click here. If you are having difficulties, please contact the Chapter Secretary.

If you are not a union member, please join today (the form connects automatically to the eDues form, so you will want to have your banking info or checkbook information handy). We are stronger standing together.

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 and the membership campaign, legal updates, post tenure review, 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 (which links to the eDues form, so you will want your banking info or checkbook information handy). Come and join the movement.

Grievances

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 Grievances Page.

One recurring problem is the surprise disciplinary meeting. An employee may be asked to meet with their supervisor to discuss X, but at the meeting, the subject turns to disciplinary action because of Y. By the Weingarten Rule, if an employee is summoned to a meeting that the employee reasonably supposes could lead to discipline, that employee has the right to ask for a union representative to be present. In fact, if an employee is in a meeting that turns towards disciplinary action, that employee may request that the meeting be suspended so that the employee can seek union representation. The union is required to provide a representative only if the employee is a member, although the union may send a representative if the union's interests may be involved.

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.


Non-renewals, Layoffs, Dismissals, and Getting Fired

Sometimes administrators want to get rid of inconvenient faculty, and sometimes administrators are instructed by external VIPs to get rid of noisy employees. But the contract provides some job security - and not just tenure, which "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." Here is what the contract says applies to most faculty.

  • Reappointment. Every nonvisiting employee not on soft money has the right to at least one semester's notice of non-reappointment, and every such employee with at least two year's continuous service has the right to at least one year's notice.
  • Disciplinary dismissal. An employee can only be dismissed for "just cause" (i.e., misconduct or incompetence) or job abandonment.
  • Layoff. The Administration must designate a "layoff unit" and then within that unit the Administration must choose faculty to lay off in accordance with the restrictions in the contract.
But as usual, if an employee's contractual rights have been violated by an improper non-reappointment, dismissal, or layoff, that employee has only thirty days to file a grievance, so act immediately. And UFF can only represent a grieving employee if that employee was a union member at the time of the violation, so join today.

Academic Freedom ...

The latest news on the academic freedom front is that the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled a that professor can be removed from a degree program - and hence be denied access to graduate students - for grumping at faculty meetings, in emails, and on a blog, about DEI and wokeness. This was a natural outcome of the very strange Garcetti v. Ceballos ruling that a prosecutor can be disciplined for repeatedly grumping about police misconduct - this shortly after said police department coughed up $125 million in damages and saw 106 convictions overturned because of police beatings, shootings, robberies, perjury, evidence planting, and other misconduct.

Fortunately, USF faculty who believe in academic freedom (and due diligence) have the additional protection of a contract, the Collective Bargaining Agreement, which explicitly protects faculty rights to to speak freely on all matters of university governance, and to speak, write, or act as an individual, all without institutional discipline or restraint. And this language applies to ALL employees of the UFF USF Bargaining Unit, tenured and non-tenured alike.

But remember, without the contract, we wouldn't have that protection. And we can use all the help we can get, so join today.

The Assembly in Orlando

Former UFF USF Chapter President Roy Weatherford used to say that the National Education Association Representative Assembly was the best example of democracy at work. The Agenda describes the Assembly as "The world's largest democratic, deliberative body, by educators, for educators." Thousands of delegates from across the country (and territories) come to a convention center to determine the policy of the national union for the coming year.

Of course, anyone familiar with academic conferences knows that there is a lot of prepartion - which begins (at least) eight months in advance when various committees meet and hear activists pitch various agenda items. Then as July 4 looms - the Assembly always meets over July 4 - the delegations from the state affiliates (like the Florida Education Association) and the locals (like the United Faculty of Florida) meet to plan for the meeting. There are also many "special interest" caucuses, which run the gamut from the Digital Learning Caucus and the Arts Education Caucus to the Democratic Caucus and the Republican Caucus to the Chocolate Caucus and the Beer Caucus (see EducationWeek's list of the NEA Caucuses: The Serious, The Fun, the Odd). Much of the business of these caucuses consists of looking over business items heading for the floor.


Some UFF representatives at the Assembly. Front row, L to R: Teresa Hodge, NEA Director for Florida - Higher Ed; Jennifer Proffitt, Chair of the SUS Bargaining Committee; Andrew Gothard, UFF (statewide) President.

And THE business item is the budget.

Joe Biden's father once said, "Don’t tell me what you value. Show me your budget, and I’ll tell you what you value." The National Education Association has 2.3 million members - its two million nonretired members making up 1.2% of all employees in the United States - and projects a (national) budget of about $380 million during the coming academic year. About a third of that is allocated to national projects (including clusters of projects associated with public education and democracy, professionalism, member engagement, racial and social justice, community relations, etc.), a third to help state and local affiliates (including affiliates, like Florida's, that have problems with state governments), and a third for the staff (who have their own union!) who doing the everyday work of the union in addition to all these projects affiliate assistance.

(Yes, staff were working on the Fourth of July. Three cheers for our hardworking staff!)

Alas, the budget isn't just about values; Peanuts fans may recall Snoopy's complaint...

Delegates brought 94 New Business Items to the floor, most of them good suggestions. Some of them passed, some of them not (price often being an object), and some of them ... were referred to committee. Perhaps most notable of the latter being three on artificial intelligence, which the leadership asked to be folded into a current artificial intelligence project. For that, stay tuned, as AI is a leadership priority.

LOGISTICS

The next chapter meeting will be tomorrow Friday, July 14, 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.

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.