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Higher Education

Funding for Florida’s public higher education institutions lost more to inflation from 2008 to 2017 than all other states except Texas, according to a report from the American Federation of Teachers. The report shows Florida lost almost $1.1 billion, when accounting for inflation.

According to Dave Denslow, retired University of Florida economics professor, Florida is No. 1 in one economic metric: It spends half the national average on funding per full-time university student.

Increasing our state’s commitment to higher education funding is essential for maintaining the quality of our colleges and universities.

The United Faculty of Florida (UFF), FEA’s higher education affiliate, is meeting these challenges head on through member organizing and collective bargaining. Faculty at seven colleges and universities have successfully unionized with UFF since 2016.

In addition to seeking increased investment in our institutions, UFF continues to advocate on behalf of its members on a full slate of issues:

  • Guns on campus: UFF opposes legislation to allow carrying of concealed weapons on college and university campuses. UFF concurs with the clear majority of faculty, students and law enforcement professionals that prohibiting firearms on college and university campuses, except when those firearms are in the hands of law enforcement or security personnel who are trained in de-escalation techniques, is crucial to an overall campus safety plan.
  • Performance funding: UFF supports an authentic recognition of quality at our institutions. Performance funds should be available on an equitable basis to all colleges and universities, the funding should  be recurring, and institutions should have  flexibility in how they use those funds. For years, Florida’s faculty have made the state’s higher education system one of the best in country while operating with less and less funding. It is time now to fully fund the higher education system to provide faculty, students and staff the best possible working and learning opportunities.
  • Accessibility of higher education: Higher education must be more affordable for our students, who too often end up saddled with crushing debt. Increasing the number of need-based scholarships is an essential first step in confronting the issue.
  • Fee waivers for graduate assistants: Graduate assistants perform meaningful teaching and research functions at most of our state universities. UFF supports legislation that provides graduate assistants with fee waivers or exemptions from financial aid fees, technology fees and other fees tantamount to paying for the right of employment.
  • Access to public records: UFF opposes legislation that would provide exemptions to Florida’s Sunshine Law as it pertains to president, provost and/or dean searches. We support full access to public records and full compliance with the Sunshine Law in any situation in which a private donor to a college or university insists upon setting preconditions related to faculty appointments or curriculum.
  • Academic freedom and respect: UFF supports the American tradition of academic freedom — one of the fundamental tenets of American higher education — and the responsibilities that go along with that freedom. We support promotion and tenure procedures as outlined in our collective bargaining agreements. We oppose any discriminatory actions based on race, gender identity, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, age, disability or marital status.
  • Honesty in education: UFF supports education that is based in fact, supported by data, and unencumbered by the needs of politics and politicians. State institutions funded by state tax dollars exist to support the public good, and there is no greater public good than teaching truth, even when that truth is uncomfortable. Future generations must build upon what we have learned as a culture and a society. We strongly resist any and all attempts to influence or alter historical fact for political expediency.
  • Right to collective bargaining: UFF strongly supports the rights of all Floridians to organize unions in their workplaces — a right that is guaranteed in the Florida Constitution. Any employee, in any industry, has the right and the duty to advocate for better working and living conditions. Unions strengthen the economy, improve our society and protect the democratic process. We are strongly opposed to any and all efforts that would limit the right to collective bargaining in Florida, including membership percentage requirements, membership list challenges, losses of payroll deduction for union dues and other acts that would attempt to undermine the constitutional rights of Florida’s workers.

Additional Resources

Visit the FEA Voter Toolkit

The November 8 General Election is just around the corner and education will be a central issue during this critical election season. The FEA Voter Toolkit has election resources and endorsed candidates for local school Boards, the Florida House and Florida Senate, and Governor.

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