UFF News & Views July 2015

 

 

July 2015

Please note that the UFF Office is moving, effective August 3. 
The new office address is:

United Faculty of Florida
115 N. Calhoun Street Suite 3

Tallahassee, Florida 32301

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gun Lobby Intimidation and the FSU Four: Why Membership Matters

By Jennifer Proffitt, UFF President Elect

On April 2, four FSU professors-- Matthew Lata, Nancy Rogers, Michael Buchler and I--went to a House Committee meeting to testify against HB 4005, the bill that would allow concealed firearms on our university and college campuses. The hearing started at 8am, and each speaker had just one minute. The bill passed the committee, as expected, despite widespread opposition from all corners of the university and college systems, including the Board of Governors, university and college presidents, campus security, faculty, parents and students.  UFF-FSU and the FSU Faculty Senate had passed resolutions opposing the legislation, and at least one or all of the FSU Four spoke or attempted to speak at each of the previous hearings. After the April 2 hearing, I received an email from a member of Florida Carry, Inc. He said he was filing complaints later that day with the Florida Commission on Ethics against the four of us, like Florida Carry did for the University police chiefs who attended a hearing regarding the Senate version of the bill. He included screen shots of us testifying and claimed that we were violating Florida statutes regarding registering as lobbyists. He also demanded electronic versions of our calendars and our teaching schedules.  He posted our pictures on his Facebook site with the same charges against us as well. As I had told a reporter a few weeks earlier when this same person made a series of unreasonable and unanswerable public records requests regarding the university employees who attended the same Senate hearing as the police chiefs, our First Amendment rights as citizens to speak to issues that affect our work and our safety do not stop just because we are public servants. 

Whether you are for or against concealed carry on campus, the attempt to silence faculty voices should be of great concern. While I understand that anyone has a right to file records requests, the fact that it was done only for those who testified against guns on campus demonstrates that the requests and the ethics complaint threat (for as far as I know they were never filed against us) were tactics used to intimidate us from speaking.  Within an hour of receiving the threatening email, I contacted FSU and UFF. FSU counsel said that FSU could not help us because we were not testifying on behalf of FSU. But UFF sprang to action, making sure that our rights were protected in the event that the charges were filed. 

This instance illustrates two important points. First, it should be clear to anyone looking at this, regardless of where they personally fall on this issue, that this is an intimidation tactic pursued by organizations that want no limits on firearms, and I hope that all would acknowledge and denounce these tactics.  All should have a right to speak within the laws established for doing so, and these political games do not contribute to the robust debate and discussion this issue warrants.  Second, the voices from the academic communities impacted are the most powerful, which is why there was this attempt to silence them.  This legislation will be back, and we as faculty must fully engage and speak up.  This is about the safety of our workplaces, for ourselves, our students and staff.  It is also about protecting academic freedom and free inquiry in our classrooms, for we must be confident that we can challenge students intellectually and discuss controversial topics without the fear of violence. As the faculty and leaders of Florida’s higher education community, we must be front and center in this debate, not allowing others to speak for us or allowing anyone to intimidate us from this critical role.  UFF will continue this campaign for our colleges and universities, but we will need everyone’s help.


Editor’s Note:

On Tuesday, July 14, the 1st District Court of Appeal considered a case filed by the group Florida Carry Inc., which says people have a legal right to possess firearms in university housing. An Alachua County circuit judge dismissed the group's lawsuit last year. The lawsuit was filed after the group successfully won an earlier lawsuit that allowed students to store guns in their cars while on campus. We will report on the court’s decision in a future edition of News and Views.


2015 Legislative Sessions and Higher Education

By Marshall Ogletree, UFF Interim Executive Director

After months of meetings and deliberations, the Legislature finally wrapped up its business on June 19, less than two weeks before the end of the fiscal year. A state government shutdown was averted, but the scorecard on health care that caused the special session is certainly incomplete and left many needy Floridians without the health coverage that would have been available through provisions of the Affordable Care Act.

For UFF, the session was meaningful for our ability to prevent legislation harmful to our universities and colleges. You can read about our successful efforts to stop the guns on campus legislation in more detail in Jennifer Proffitt’s article.

UFF, along with the Florida AFL-CIO and its Working Family Lobby Corps, stood against legislation that would have made applications for university and college president and provost positions secret and outside the Florida Sunshine laws. We prevailed, and the bill did not pass!

The textbook affordability bill did not pass, either, but UFF was the only higher education interest invited to key negotiations over language in the bill at the final stage of deliberations. During regular session and special session, we spoke out against changes to the state employee health insurance plan, which would have adversely affected faculty and graduate assistants at our public universities. Again, the bill did not pass!

While we are disappointed about performance funding growing at our universities and beginning at our colleges and community colleges, we will continue to be proactive in our opposition to the punitive provisions of the performance plans.

Stay tuned because the 2016 legislative session begins in January, with interim committee weeks beginning in September 2015.


The Vitality of Connecting with our Broader Communities

by Scott Launier, UFF-UCF President

At the 2014 fall UFF state senate meeting, I attended a breakout session with Bruce Nissen (UFF-FIU chapter) about “Building a Power Organization.”  We were invited to consider whether our chapter engaged only in bargaining and grievances, or whether we worked to build a power organization.  We acknowledged that one problem in not building a power organization is creating an organization of dues-paying members with too few active members.

After the fall meeting, our chapter began to think about this session along with an important question posed to us by UFF staffer Josh Lenes: What is the identity and visibility of our union chapter?  That is, what is it that our chapter does and what do we want it to do?  Our chapter then committed to three new initiatives:  building community among faculty, giving back to faculty and connecting with the broader UCF and Central Florida communities.

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Aaron Bunett facilitating Central Florida Jobs with Justice Leadership Training, May 15-17, 2015 Orlando Rally to support Lake Buena Vista Palace Hotel Workers, May 18, 2015 Orlando

Making The Salary Case With State-Supplied Numbers

By Harvey Slentz, FSCJ

There are many issues that arise in collective bargaining, but only one will predictably get the attention of everyone – salary.   Salary is also an employment issue that can be compared with relative ease between colleges and universities throughout the state and the country.  For these two reasons – universal interest and ease of comparability – salary is the main event in most collective bargaining negotiations. 

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Magistrate’s recommendation sides with FAMU faculty

A special magistrate conducting an impasse hearing between the United Faculty of Florida chapter at Florida A&M University (UFF-FAMU) and the school’s Board of Trustees, has issued a recommendation that is favorable to the faculty position in the contract negotiations.

Frank J. Squillace, a special magistrate for the Public Employee Relations Commission (PERC), issued his recommendations earlier this month after hearing arguments from the faculty and the administration during a hearing April 16. His decision supported UFF-FAMU’s position that the FAMU administration’s salary proposal of 1 percent pay raise to the base of faculty salaries and a 1 percent bonus was unfair given that the median salary at FAMU ranks below most other schools in the State University System (SUS).

Specifically, Squillace recommended that the parties adopt the following salary increases beginning the year 2014-2015:

  • 1 percent salary increase retroactive to August 2014.

  • 1 percent increase to salary based on merit evaluation, which does not have to be contingent upon ratification.

  • 1½ percent salary increase for a Sustained Performance Increase for professors and eminent scholars.

“We are higher education professionals living in Tallahassee, but our salaries aren’t comparable to our colleagues who teach just a few blocks away at Florida State University,” said Dr. Elizabeth Davenport, UFF-FAMU president. “Educators at FAMU and FSU both are a part of the State University System, but our salaries at FAMU are a disappointment compared to those at FSU. Yet we live, work and pay bills in the very same city.”

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UF-GAU News

By Diana Moreno and Mary Roca

As the University of Florida chapter of Graduate Assistants United prepares for contract negotiations, we celebrate our achievements in connecting with Student Government, graduate student organizations and the UF President. While the university’s presidential search lacked transparency, we were happy with Dr. Kent Fuchs’ appointment because he emphasized the importance of graduate students and the need to promote diversity within our institution.

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From left to right:
Daphne Douglas, Geology Steward; C.G. Shields, Chief Steward; Diana Moreno, media relations; Lia Merivaki, Co-President; President Fuchs; Kevin Funk, Co-President; Ioannis Ziogas, Bargaining Chair; Mary Roca, Chief Coordinator

From right to left as you see them:
C.G. Shields, GAU Chief Steward; Mary Roca, Chief Coordinator; Dawn Nekorchuk, Geography Steward; Armand Kapllani, Food and Resource Economics Steward.


Report from UFF-NCF

by Uzi Baram

Our chapter’s attention during 2014-15 focused on the three-year CBA. We met some important goals at the negotiating table. The chapter approved the CBA in May and the Board of Trustees at its June 2015 meeting.

  • For 2014-15, eligible employees received a 1 percent increase to base pay retroactive to August 7, 2014. In addition, each eligible employee received $1,000. For 2015-16, we will negotiate for salary increases but already have a commitment for each employee to receive a $1,000 non-recurring bonus.

  • One of the important advances in the CBA concerned our non-teaching faculty. We clarified language regarding the process to request professional leave for librarians, counselors and other non-teaching faculty. And we made improvements on the promotion process for librarians.

  • We removed vague language regarding teaching on official holidays, to make clear that classes will not be held.

  • For faculty with dependents, last year the administration agreed to join The Tuition Exchange program and this year we approved a policy for the benefit. We also clarified the tuition remission program for the families who send their children to New College of Florida.

  • New College faces considerable difficulties. As a small chapter, I was pleased to have Michael Moats and Marshall Ogletree come to our April chapter meeting to share information and insights. We have experienced chapter members elected for next academic year, ready to face the challenges.

Tenure and Promotion at the University of South Florida

By Greg McColm, UFF-USF Secretary

During the last two years, the USF Tampa administration and Senate developed and instituted new tenure and promotion guidelines to replace old ones established in 1998.  The other two USF campuses are developing their own guidelines, but with more than 90 percent of the faculty and students, Tampa’s changes dominate the conversation.

The USF chapter of the UFF treated the guidelines as a management proposal and was not formally involved in their development.  The chapter resisted management attempts to accelerate implementation of the guidelines.  Bargaining was going on during much of this time, but in the end, there were no changes in the tenure and promotion language in the contract.

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UFF-FIU Summer Update

By Benjamin Baez, UFF-FIU Chapter President

The UFF-FIU chapter had a successful year, holding membership steady despite many key departures and strengthening the chapter via, among other activities, annual events, the most important of which involve workshops on promotion for instructors and lecturers and for tenure-earning faculty. This year the chapter also commissioned its fifth edition of the “How FIU Spends Its Money” Study, which explains how much more of the university’s resources go toward supporting administrative as opposed to instructional functions. The chapter was also focused on bargaining a new three-year contract. The chapter and the administration agreed via an MOU to a salary increase to the base this past spring term (1.5 percent retention, and up to 1.5 percent of the salary budget to be distributed in accordance with departmental policies for merit). This was the first time in many years in which merit raises were to the base. There was also tentative agreement on other matters. We expected to conclude negotiations this past term, but bargaining continues because there was no agreement on the issue of online teaching. Under the contract currently in effect, a faculty member cannot be compelled to teach online. The administration wishes to have this right removed, and in line with this has made good faith proposals. But the chapter is strongly committed to protecting existing rights, as well as a faculty member’s academic freedom to determine in what mode of delivery a course should be taught. Nevertheless, we are still in negotiations and expect to resume bargaining once the 2015 fall term begins.


FSU-GAU News

By Kim Anderson, FSU-GAU President

UFF-FSU-GAU held elections in March for the positions of President, Executive Vice President, Treasurer and Vice President of Membership. Those positions are now filled by Kimberly Tate Anderson (English), Martin Bremer (Education), Tara Baldrick-Morrone (Religion) and Wayne Reed (English), respectively. Two days after the new executive committee took office, FSU-GAU hosted a social event, drawing about 20 GAs from various departments.

On May 22, FSU-GAU met with representatives of the BOT to open bargaining. This year, the chapter is negotiating the entire CBA. Thus far, both parties have signed a number of articles and hope to have all non-economic aspects of the contract signed by the end of July. But that’s when the real battle begins.

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UFF-FAU Negotiations

From Bob Zoeller, UFF-FAU President

The UFF-FAU bargaining unit ratified its 2014-15 contract by a 91 percent favorable vote. The contract will now go to the FAU Board of Trustees for ratification.

While there were no general salary increases, there will be salary increases of 9 percent upon promotion to Associate Professor or Senior Instructor/University Instructor and 12 percent for promotion to Professor or University Instructor/University Lecturer. Caps on other promotion increases were raised from the previous contract.

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United Faculty of Florida
Tom Auxter, President
Daniel Rieger, Vice President
115 N. Calhoun Street Suite 3
Tallahassee, FL 32301
Phone: 850-224-8220 
Fax: 850-222-1767

www.unitedfacultyofflorida.org
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