UFF News & Views April 2016

 

 

State Union President Vows to Press On to Keep Firearms Off College Campuses | From the Interim Executive Director | 

Unionizing Pays Big Dividend for Professors at Regional Public Universities | Invigorating the Membership at UCF

UFF-St. Leo University | UF-GAU-UFF 


Contact: Marshall Ogletree, Interim Executive Director
              (850)556-5239

 

Dr. Jennifer Proffitt, President of United Faculty of Florida, Honored by National Gun Safety Organization

 

State Union President Vows to Press On to Keep Firearms Off College Campuses

Tallahassee – Earlier this week, the Campaign to Keep Guns Off Campus held an awards ceremony in New York City to commend the work of key leaders in different states to defeat proposed laws to allow individuals to carry dangerous firearms on college campuses.  The organization, founded in large part by individuals directly impacted by campus gun violence, has worked in states across the nation to keep university and college campuses gun-free. 

 

Proffitt, a communications professor at Florida State University, has been a leader in the opposition to bills in the Florida Legislature over the past two years that would lift Florida’s current ban on firearms on university and college campuses.  Dr. Proffitt is no stranger to the debate and has studied the impacts of mass shootings on school campuses and the resulting media coverage since the Columbine tragedy in 1999 while a classroom teacher in nearby Colorado Springs.  She served as the President of UFF-FSU Chapter in 2015 when a mass shooting at FSU served as the impetus for filing the bills to lift the current gun ban and helped organize the coalition to beat the bill back.  Last year, she was elected by the members of UFF to serve as the state president of the faculty union and helped lead the fight this year under her new role. She has served as the voice of the faculty across Florida who, like the rest of the higher education community, are overwhelmingly in opposition to lifting the current gun ban. 

 

The national recognition of her effective advocacy to keep guns off campus in Florida is a testament to the strong coalition that exists between Florida-specific organizations and the national movement to bring some semblance of sanity to the contentious debate over gun policy that continues to grip the country.  In a statement issued shortly after the ceremony, Proffitt said, “The notion that dramatically increasing the number of deadly weapons on our campuses is good public policy has been and continues to be pure folly driven by the gun industry lobby. It represents a fundamental threat to our students, faculty, staff and members of the general public who use these public facilities. It is also a threat to the spirit of higher education, for the guarantee of a safe space for exploring and challenging intellectual inquiry is paramount.”  She also said, “I am honored by this recognition by the Campaign to Keep Guns Off Campus, but it is important to note that these recent victories are the result of the tireless efforts of faculty, students, parents and families across Florida.  This award is also for all of them.  UFF will continue our state and national partnerships and mobilize every time this bad public policy rears its ugly head.” 

 

    

**********************************

 

From the Interim Executive Director
By Marshall Ogletree

 

New Website

If you have not seen our newly reconstructed website, click on www.unitedfacultyofflorida.gov. We even have pictures and a link to a video, only one for now, but that is progress. Please give us your suggestions for improvement and things you might want to see added over the next few months. Summer is coming and sometimes we have a little more creative time here in Tallahassee.

 

UFF Secretaries – Sasha and Pam

Welcome Sasha Tucker, the newest addition to the UFF staff. Sasha is a graduate of FAMU and is working on many important functions for you, such as membership, voucher processing, PAC reporting, website updating and the very important “other jobs as assigned”. She joins Pam Williams, formerly Butler, who keeps us running on a day-to-day basis. When you get the chance, call and get acquainted with our invaluable team, Pam and Sasha!

Pam Williams Sasha Tucker


 

External Organizing

UFF has pending union elections at the State College of Florida, Sarasota-Manatee and at Florida Polytechnic University in Lakeland. We are hopeful PERC will rule on an election day for SCF before summer but if not both Polytechnic and SCF will have PERC-run elections in the fall. UFF is also in the midst of a card collection drive at St. Petersburg College to represent faculty on their six campuses. The SPC campaign hopes to collect 60 percent of the necessary cards before the end of this term leading to an election before the 2016 winter break.

 

The organizing video may be found here.

 

**********************************

 

Unionizing Pays Big Dividend for Professors at Regional Public Universities
By Peter Schmidt

 

Full-time instructors at regional public universities earn an average of about $21,000, or nearly 25 percent, more in pay and benefits annually if they belong to a union, concludes a groundbreaking new study of compensation at such institutions.


The location and size of the employer also makes a big difference. Those in larger suburban public universities, the highest-paying category of institutions studied, earned an average of nearly $17,000, or 20 percent, more in pay and benefits annually than those at midsize rural institutions, the lowest-paying category.


Such pay gaps become even larger when all three factors — location, size, and union status — are considered together. Unionized instructors at larger suburban institutions earn an average of about $40,000, or 50 percent, more than their nonunionized peers at midsize rural institutions, the study found.


Click here to continue reading.

 

********************************** 

 

Invigorating the Membership at UCF
By Yan Fernandez, UFF-UCF Membership Committee Chair, Associate Professor of Astronomy and Physics
.

 

Thanks to the work of many faculty leaders, we have seen a renaissance of activity and a surge in growth in our chapter of the United Faculty of Florida here at the University of Central Florida. Since the summer of 2014, chapter leadership has made a concerted effort to improve our union’s culture, identity and visibility. In particular, in addition to the usual union work of contract bargaining and enforcement, we decided to begin a series of initiatives that would build a sense of community among faculty. The overarching goal was to move away from a purely transactional model for our chapter – where a faceless union simply “gives” something to a faculty member in return for their dues – to one where a faculty member feels part of a movement of fellow humans who support their professional practice and who look out for their personal well-being.

 

We have worked to achieve this goal with a variety of events, from holding workshops about retirement, to giving advice on how to win internal UCF awards, to sponsoring nights at the UCF Theatre, to name a few. We have also greatly improved our communication strategy, in particular by providing a weekly email tip (titled “Did You Know?”) containing an interesting tidbit about our contract, about UCF policy or about another issue of current concern to faculty. All this shows faculty that their union is active, is paying attention and is looking out for their interests.

 

Our chapter has also begun to build community beyond UCF as well by actively engaging with the many labor-oriented organizations in Central Florida. Our union seeks to find common cause and to work together on issues of mutual interest.

 

We believe that our community-building strategy has begun to pay off for our chapter in that we have seen strong improvements in membership density and in finding leaders.  For example, membership has increased by 25 percent since summer 2014. As always, making one-on-one office visits with faculty is still the best method to gain new members and activate existing members, but such office visits become easier when the faculty member already has a sense from our initiatives just how much the union is doing.

 

Our union chapter will continue to work to build community so that we may become a truly powerful organization that protects and supports the practice of UCF faculty’s academic professions. 

 

**********************************

 

UFF-St. Leo University
Doris Van Kampen-Breit, Chapter President, UFF-St. Leo University

 

What happens when faculty get together for a bargaining planning meeting? We talk. We talk, and we talk some more. We share our burdens. We lighten our load by supporting each other, finding common ground and forming stronger bonds. That is why it is critical to have regular times of fellowship; times where we can stop grading, stop doing committee work and focus on supporting each other.  On March 10, we did just that; Michael Moats came to UFF-St. Leo University’s negotiations planning meeting and faculty social, where he met with members, listened to our concerns, reviewed survey results and encouraged us. It was one of the best meetings we have had this year.

 

We all get so busy that sometimes it’s hard to stop and listen – think- reflect. Reflect on how to work on stronger  - and better -  shared governance; improving working conditions, and work life balance, pay, benefits, as well as how we can support each other.

 

Sometime, taking that time out of our schedules can feel like a burden, until we get there and get into the moment; that is when we realize how much we really needed that time together. Many of us are very good at working, at grading, at teaching, at keeping all the balls in the air and our noses to the grindstone. But sometime we forget to take care of ourselves. Our need to be heard, and supported by our administration, and each other. Our need to be part of more than the minutiae and the master syllabus. That is why taking the time to come together in fellowship and mutual support is essential.

 

The future of the university, of the mission and values of the institution does not and should not rest solely with the administration.  We, the faculty, are usually more invested in our students and the future direction of the university than the administration. We look beyond the enrollment numbers and their fluctuations; we don’t chase the latest evaluation fad, or bow to the pressure of job justification caused by administrative bloat and availability of big data.

 

We look at our students as students, not as numbers, not as statistics, not as bits and bytes to be mined and reported on. We look each student individually; we look at their needs, their fears and their dreams. We help them find their way in this world even after graduation, because our students don’t stop being our students simply because they’ve stopped paying tuition. 

 

We also need to look at our own needs, and our own professional and personal dreams. We need to help each other find our voice, to make a difference to not give in to the latest craze in evaluation or the pressure to homogenize and dumb down the curriculum. UFF supports our dreams, our needs, our ability to make a difference – for ourselves and our students. As we stand together, we are upheld and made stronger by fellowship and shared purpose. That is why we believe in shared governance, shared purpose and our union.

 

**********************************

 

UF-GAU-UFF

 

In February, UF Graduate Assistants United (GAU) promoted our “Month of Love” membership campaign. After a month of outreach to graduate assistants (GAs) in February, GAU focused on undergraduates during March. We raised awareness about graduate assistants’ struggle with fees through a flyering campaign from March 21 to 25.

 

The “Month of Love” was GAU’s way of reaching out and listening to the concerns of its bargaining unit. During the membership campaign, we hosted town hall meetings to answer questions from graduate assistants, which helped us to get to know GAs’ needs, especially regarding bargaining and health insurance. Throughout that month, we also tabled at Plaza of Americas, performed office visits to spread awareness about GAU and the membership campaign and participated in other organizations’ meetings. Through the “Month of Love” events, 22 new members joined.

 

By March 11, all graduate assistants working for the University of Florida had to pay back more than $700 of their wages in student fees. GAU maintains that these fees are not only an unfair employment tax, but also a heavy financial burden on graduate assistants. Approximately 33 percent of GAs at UF are paid at or below the poverty line after paying fees. To raise awareness, GAU launched a fees campaign during the third week of March. GAU officers and volunteers handed out flyers to invite undergraduates to support their TAs by emailing President Fuchs and tweeting “#ISupportMyTA” or “#IStandWithGAs.” With the fees campaign, we hope to gain momentum and public support for next semester’s contract negotiations.

 

With Love,

GAU


GAU Month of Love: UF GAU volunteers
tabled for our "Month of Love" campaign.
UF GAU Flyering Campaign: To protest student fees,
UF GAU volunteers handed out flyers
to raise awareness among undergraduates.



 

**********************************

 

 

 

University of Florida Foundation Inc.
P.O. Box 14425
Gainesville, FL  32604-9949

 

Dear Sirs:

 

I am extremely proud of my personal association with, and family history of support for, the University of Florida.  Since the days when my ancestor sat in the Florida Legislature and voted to establish our great university, my family has supported UF.  When the university opened its doors to women following World War II, my grandfather kept his seven children busy on the farm so my grandmother could attend classes each summer to complete her education.  My father taught at UF in the 1960s and was a lifelong Gator fan.  UF is part of my DNA.  The first two songs I recall learning to sing as a child were Jesus Loves Me and We are the Boys from Old Florida.  There was really no other place I seriously considered attending college.  I am proud to be a Gator.  However, I am deeply concerned by the recent action of the UF Board of Trustees and have seriously questioned my continued financial support.

 

I applaud our institutional efforts to set increasingly higher academic and research goals.  I applaud our efforts to be recognized for the tremendous contributions of our faculty and students to the world of academia.  I applaud our efforts to become one of the elite institutions of higher education.  With such lofty and honorable goals at the forefront of our planning, I am dumbfounded by the Board of Trustees’ decision to deny our faculty salary increases commensurate to their positions at our amazing university—especially when an impartial magistrate concluded the necessary funds were readily available and increases would not be detrimental to university resources.   What incentives do these great professional educators have to encourage them to remain at UF?  What incentives exist to recruit the brightest minds to join our faculty?  Who does the Board of Trustees believe built the University of Florida to the level of preeminence we currently enjoy?  Research shows the single most important factor influencing a student’s academic success is the quality of the instructor. 

 

As a result of the Board of Trustees’ decision, I have chosen to withhold any financial support of the University of Florida until corrective steps are made and our faculty members are honored, appreciated and compensated for the contributions they have made to build this great institution.  It’s for the GatorGood.

 

Respectfully,
Rebecca Rhoden Ogletree
BSJ ‘82


 

 2 user(s) rated this page
Login to leave a comment
No Comments yet