Last year, the Legislature passed and the governor signed a "Stop Woke" bill to censor college course content. Florida educators and students responded by filing a lawsuit that led to a federal injunction against the law.
In the spirit of "if, at first, you don't succeed…," the Legislature passed and the governor signed a Really Stop Woke This Time bill, which came into effect on July 1. It affects USF and USF faculty, and we have to deal with it this fall.
Meanwhile, the Florida Legislature made university presidents into their institutions' HR directors - as if they didn't have enough to do.
The law says that being a union member means being a dues-paying member, so get on eDues today.
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.
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: post tenure review, arbitration, the membership 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.
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.
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.
As of July 1, three grievances were scheduled to go to arbitration, and we have been informed that the USF Administration will not contest the union's right to take those cases to arbitration. However, the Administration contends that under the newly passed Senate Bill 266, no more grievances can be taken to arbitration. UFF contends that that is a violation of the contract. For more, come to the chapter meeting tomorrow (see above).
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.
Yes, we are on social media.
Senate Bill 266 (see 1004.06(2) says that universities may not fund programs that violate a Discrimination statute that bars teaching that "virtues as merit, excellence, hard work, fairness, neutrality, objectivity, and racial colorblindness are racist or sexist," as well as advocating "for diversity, equity, and inclusion, or promote or engage in political or social activism, as defined by … the State Board of Education and … the Board of Governors." Notice that this gives the Board enormous discretion on what "political or social activism" consists of.
The union sent to UFF members a Member Guidance stating that, "Faculty have the right to teach the full range of available viewpoints, with universities and colleges serving as unhindered spaces for inquiry, debate, and knowledge production." UFF intends to fight SB 266 in the courts, but this is a political battle that we all will have to join. Meanwhile, the vague wording of the law can make its implementation arbitrary, capricious, and possibly corrupt. So UFF advises the following defensive measures:
SB 266 attacks the contract's grievance process. A grievance is a formal complaint that the contract has been violated, and this process protects UFF members from mistreatment and protects the contract from erosion. At the end of the process is arbitration, i.e., UFF and the USF Administration present their case before an outside arbitrator. Arbitration keeps the system honest. SB 266 shuts down arbitration for grievances involving dismissals - i.e., the grievances with the highest stakes.
The Guidance interprets the law to mean that university president has the final word on firing employees, contract or no contract.
But there is a bitter lesson here. We would not be in this legal battle if SB 266 hadn't passed and been signed. We need to increase our efforts to educate politicians about the consequences of their actions. And the time to start educating legislators is now, when legislators are just beginning their plans for the 2024 session: the time to influence decisions is before they are made. If you are interested in helping out, come to the chapter meeting tomorrow, Friday, at 12 noon, on USF Tampa, in EDU161 - or online (and contact the chapter secretary for a Zoom invitation).
Effective August 7, eligible UFF USF employees shall receive a 2% merit raise. According to Subsection 23.1C of the contract, to be eligible, an employee must have been hired by 7 August 2022, must have been rated at least satisfactory in the spring evaluation, and not have an active Performance Improvement Plan under Subsection 10.3B of the contract as a result of having a below satisfactory Sustained Performance Evaluation. This raise will appear in paychecks approximately three weeks after August 7, depending on the precise pay cycle.
This merit raise is the second one mandated by this contract: last year, the raise was 3.5%. In addition, the contract permits the USF Administration to provide up to 1% of the total payroll (i.e., up to $1,594,888) in discretionary raises. Typically, the Administration far fewer discretionary raises than the contract permits, with middle management pleading poverty or blaming the union or both - but no matter what your dean says, the authority for discretionary raises is there.
But over the life of the current contract, we have a hole. According to the U.S. Department of Labor CPI Inflation Calculator, inflation from June 2021 to June 2023 was 12.3%, while the cumulative merit raise (for UFF USF employees in good standing) was 5.6%, for a net loss of 6.0% in buying power over the last two years. One major challenge facing us is repairing this problem before it more severely affects morale and retention. But Florida State University System Board of Governors Chair Brian Lamb told SUS faculty senate leaders this summer, the Legislature was generous this year, so the resources are there.
The next chapter meeting will be tomorrow Friday, August 11, 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.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.
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 email@example.com.