UFF News & Views July 2016

 


What If They Gave a Higher Ed Summit and the Faculty Weren’t Invited? | 

UFF Statement Regarding the Degrees to Jobs Summit | 

UFF Members Represent at the 2016 NEA Representative Assembly | Elections Are Coming Soon!

Seminole State NegotiationsFaculty Retention at the University of South Florida 

FSU Bargaining Union Election Scheduled for Tallahassee Community College Faculty

 

  

Note to UFF Members: The UFF website can be reached with the more user-friendly domain name – www.myuff.org. The current domain www.unitedfacultyofflorida.org will continue to work as well.


***********


What If They Gave a Higher Ed Summit and the Faculty Weren’t Invited?

By Jennifer Proffitt, UFF President

 

 

On May 5, 2016, Governor Scott announced that he was convening an invitation-only summit regarding higher education in Florida titled, Degrees to Jobs Summit, held at the swank Loews Portofino Bay Resort at Universal Studios May 25-26. The purpose of the event, according to the Governor, was to discuss “how we can better prepare students to get a great education for a high-skill, high-wage job and graduate with a great career in the Sunshine State.” Most of us would agree that higher education is about much more than getting a job in Florida, but even if we were to accept this job training model of our colleges and universities, it is important to note that not one faculty member was invited to speak. At least as far as we can tell from media reports and the Governor’s office’s response to our statement below, no faculty were even invited to attend. We called the Governor’s office several times to see if we could score an invitation, but our calls were not returned. Despite the fact that Scott said that the panel with three football coaches and the attendance of a few administrators demonstrated that there were “plenty of faculty” at the summit, I think it is safe to say that the lack of faculty representation at a summit about higher education is extremely problematic and incredibly shortsighted.

 

But it became crystal clear why faculty were not invited when we heard State College of Florida Board of Trustee member Eric Robinson (who is running for Sarasota County School Board) encourage other colleges to get rid of continuing contracts for new faculty as the Trustees did at State College of Florida, saying, “I think it's the right thing to do…We're the first ones to do this and people are still applying to come to our college. Our college has not closed down. The doom and gloom hasn't happened.” (Important safety note: the decision to eliminate contracts for new faculty was only rammed through in January of this year). To make matters worse, another excellent speaker featured on this panel was Allen Norton & Blue shareholder Mike Mattimore, chief negotiator for management at several of our institutions, who advocated for advancing management priorities through the use of the impasse process (see http://thefloridachannel.org/videos/52516-governors-degrees-jobs-summit-part-2/ around 1:14; Eric Robinson was on the same panel around 1:05). It’s not clear how anti-union and anti-faculty policies help students get jobs; instead, this panel demonstrates how disingenuous the summit really was.

 

What is clear from this summit and recent press accounts is that higher education is in the crosshairs of the Governor’s office and the Florida Legislature.  This new focus brings with it many challenges and perhaps many opportunities, and with your help, the United Faculty of Florida will be able to navigate these potentially treacherous political waters for the betterment of our institutions.


↑ Back to top

 

 ***********

 

 

UFF Statement Regarding the Degrees to Jobs Summit

The United Faculty of Florida represents more than 22,000 faculty members at 21 of Florida’s universities and colleges. 

 

The very premise of Rick Scott’s summit is problematic in that the mission of higher education is much more than just jobs. While obtaining a job after graduation is important, higher education is about developing educated, well-rounded citizens and future leaders who are able to communicate and write effectively, think critically, and solve problems – skills that are also important criteria for those who do the hiring.

 

If Governor Scott is serious about improving higher education, then he needs to make sure that our university and college systems are funded properly, not relying on gimmicks such as one-size-fits-all performance funding.

 

If Governor Scott is serious about improving higher education, then he would work to protect the institutions that nurture rigorous inquiry and strong research that will attract and retain the best faculty, such as tenure and continuing contracts.

 

Perhaps most importantly, if Governor Scott is serious about improving higher education, then he would have a real summit that includes our faculty members, who are critical stakeholders in any discussion of higher education and higher education curriculum.  Unfortunately, no faculty members are listed in the agenda for the summit, which is incredibly problematic as we are in the classrooms and in the labs teaching these future leaders the skills necessary to succeed, and we serve as mentors and as references for our students when they apply for jobs or continue on for graduate school.

 

The United Faculty of Florida, which represents more than 22,000 faculty members, was not invited to the summit, even though we have the knowledge, the research, the experience, and the networks to serve as meaningful partners in the summit. 

 

Without meaningful faculty participation, this summit does little to move Florida’s higher education system to the next level of excellence.


↑ Back to top

 

*********** 

 

UFF Members Represent at the 2016 NEA Representative Assembly


By Jennifer Proffitt, UFF President


The 154th National Education Association Representative Assembly (NEA RA) kicked off on Monday, July 4 and ended Thursday, July 7, 2016. The RA was also a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the historic merger between NEA and the American Teachers Association (ATA), the union that represented Black teachers in segregated schools. The Assembly provides a forum for NEA members to shape the policies, activities, legislative agenda, and future of our union and is characterized by long hours of debates and decision-making punctuated by periods of inspiration and solidarity!  Some highlights from the NEA RA include:


  • Elizabeth Davenport, UFF Vice President and President of the UFF-FAMU Chapter, was elected NEA Director At-Large Higher Education! Congratulations!
  • The Assembly kicked off with an emotional tribute to those affected by the tragedy at Pulse nightclub in Orlando. The entire Florida Education Association Delegation wore #OrlandoUnited shirts in solidarity with our friends and family in Orlando. The Assembly voted to support a new business item that directs NEA to “implement an action plan to prevent acts of discrimination and violence targeted at people who are perceived or identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning (LGBTQ).”
  • The Assembly voted to support a new policy statement that challenges the school-to-prison pipeline and school discipline.
  • Secretary Hillary Clinton spoke to the Assembly on July 5, and the delegates voted overwhelmingly to recommend her for President.
  • Sen. Patty Murray (D., Washington) and Sen. Lamar Alexander (R., Tennessee) addressed the Assembly after receiving the NEA Friend of Education award for their “bipartisan collaboration” to replace the highly problematic No Child Left Behind with the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).
  • Michael Buchler (UFF-FSU) and Jennifer Proffitt worked with higher education leaders across the nation to pass a new business item asking NEA to work through NEA’s member benefits to sever ties with Western Governors University, because, as Michael wrote in the justification for his new business item, “private, non-union Western Governors University lobbies state governors and legislatures to redirect public higher education (including financial aid funds) to WGU, replacing NEA members’ jobs with faculty-free ‘self-directed’ courses. WGU also outsources course creation to for-profit companies, circumventing faculty governance.” We had the unanimous support of the National Council for Higher Education (NCHE), an independent membership organization within NEA that advocates for higher education.

This year's RA was long, intense, and worth every minute as Florida's NEA members participated in the deliberations and represented the needs and aspirations of Florida educators.  I would like to encourage UFF members to think about running for the position of NEA Delegate. The RA is an amazing experience as more than 7000 delegates work together to make key decisions, but it is also a critical exercise to ensure that NEA hears higher education voices.


For more information, please visit the 2016 RA site at http://ra.nea.org/



↑ Back to top

 

*********** 


 

Elections Are Coming Soon!

By Marshall Ogletree, UFF Executive Director

 

The Primary Election is just a month away on August 30, 2016, with the General Election on November 8, 2016. While all elections are critical to the future of all Floridians, this year is especially important to the future of public education in Florida. Check with your local Supervisor of Elections for vote-by-mail guidelines and schedule of early voting dates and sites in your county.


I will only focus on the Florida Senate races in this article. The candidates listed below have been endorsed by UFF through our FEA and AFL-CIO state affiliates. These races were screened by local central labor councils and then voted upon at a statewide convention in Orlando, Florida. Representatives from UFF and other FEA locals were in attendance and made the endorsements. These races are important as the Florida Senate has been the only sensible voice over the past ten years in the Tallahassee political decision-making process.

 

Senate District #

Endorsed Candidate

Counties Represented

3

Bill Montford (General Only)

Calhoun, Franklin, Gadsden, Gulf, Hamilton, Jefferson, Leon, Liberty, Madison, Taylor, Wakulla

6

Audrey Gibson (Unopposed)

Duval

8

Rod Smith (General Only)

Alachua, Marion, Putnam

11

Randolph Bracy (Primary)

Orange

15

Victor Torres (Primary & General)

Orange, Osceola

16

Jack Latvala

Pasco, Pinellas

18

Bob Buesing (General)

Hillsborough

19

Ed Narain (Primary & General)

Hillsborough, Pinellas

22

Debra S. Wright (General)

Lake, Polk

30

Bobby Powell (Primary & General)

Palm Beach,

31

Jeff Clemens (Primary)

Palm Beach

32

Lauren Book (Unopposed)

Broward

33

Perry E. Thurston Jr. (Unopposed)

Broward

34

Gwendolyn Clarke-Reed, Gary Farmer, Jim Waldman (Primary)

Broward

35

Oscar Braynon II (Unopposed)

Broward, Miami-Dade

40

Dwight Bullard (Primary & General)

Miami-Dade

 

 ↑ Back to top

 ***********

 

UCF Responds to Pulse

By Scott Launier

 

As president of the United Faculty of Florida at UCF, I wish to express my condolences to all UCF faculty, staff and students, all of our union friends, affiliates and partners, and everyone in the Central Florida community and beyond who have been affected by the tragedy at The Pulse nightclub.  As a regular frequenter of downtown Orlando venues, I am awed and in shock.  As a compassionate teacher and union member, I am devastated and at the same time firmly resolved to move forward and continue our work to be a positive influence in this world.


Our position as the UCF faculty union has always been to value equality, democracy and peace and to fight against social injustice, discrimination and intolerance. 


Our mission is to protect and support our academic professions.  But our vision is to be an organization with significant influence in our community, increasing our ability to improve faculty working conditions and the quality of education we provide our students.


Now more than ever, it is clear that our initiative to build connections with the broader UCF and Central Florida communities is meaningful work.  My heart and thoughts are with our many partner and affiliate organizations who are aggressively working to promote peace, understanding and social justice.  Among them are Jobs with Justice, Organize Now, the Latino Leadership Institute, CAIR, and Equality Florida. 


We will continue to work to be influential on our campus and in our Central Florida community to promote peace, denounce violence, challenge hate, and celebrate love, respect, individuality, and equality.


Now is a time for mourning and providing comfort.  Soon will be the time to get back to work to fight ignorance, intolerance and injustice.

With love, and in solidarity,
Scott Launier

↑ Back to top 

***********

 

Seminole State Negotiations

By Dee Boyette


On July 11th, the Seminole State Board of Trustees, in a unanimous vote, ratified the first collective bargaining agreement between the BOT and UFF-Seminole.  The bargaining unit faculty ratification vote was held on June 8, 2016.  Faculty voted to ratify by an overwhelming majority of 121 (yes) to 3 (no) votes.  There were 209 full time faculty eligible to vote, meaning almost 60% of the faculty voted during the middle of the summer term!  The bargaining teams for the college and UFF-Seminole had reached tentative agreement on all articles on April 29, 2016, after five years of collective bargaining!   

The highlights of the agreement for bargaining-unit members include:

*    A one-time ratification bonus of $1,000 to full-time faculty employed in a bargaining-unit position at Seminole State prior to January 1, 2016, and at the time of disbursement.

*    An increase in base salary compensation for FY 2016-17 of up to 4.5% effective July 1, 2016.

*    Substantial increases in minimums and maximums of faculty salary ranges.

*    Full-time bargaining-unit faculty overload compensation rates equal to the current adjunct rate.

*    A well-defined Continuing Contract award process.

*    Clearly-defined workload expectations.

*    Increased opportunities for achieving advanced degrees, including a substantial increase in faculty tuition reimbursement of up to $2,700 per term (currently $2,500 per year.) More than doubling the amount currently available.

 

*********** 

 

Faculty Retention at the University of South Florida

By Gregory McColm, UFF USF Secretary & Publicity Chair

 

Numbers can underline the case in bargaining.  Harvey Slentz of Florida State Community College made this point about salaries in the July 2015 News and Views.  Numbers can also make a point about the effects of salary and job conditions.

 

According to the University of South Florida (USF)  Administration, faculty retention is a top priority.  Since retention would seem to be a function of job conditions and the market, retention would give a good picture of how rewarding a job at USF is - and where problem areas might be.  Using information accumulated over the years, we were able to produce and publicize a suggestive snapshot.

 

In the 23 June 2016 issue of the USF chapter’s electronic newsletter, the UFF USF Biweekly, we took the bargaining unit as of early 2009, and looked at the percentages of employees in the unit who were still at USF at five later dates, the last being in late 2015.  The unit was divided into five groups: four classes of teaching faculty, and everyone else (non-teaching professionals ranging from research associates to librarians to counselors and so on).  This was the result:

 

While the attrition rate among associate and full professors seems a little high - a naive calculation from this graph would suggest that tenured faculty stay at USF only two decades or so - what is striking is the attrition rate among (non-tenured) instructors and professionals.

 

USF currently does not conduct exit interviews, so we do not know the causes of attrition.  Furthermore, folklore on the subject can be unreliable.  For example, USF faculty and administrators tended to agree that the primary hurdle for assistant professors was the sixth year, when they went up for tenure.  But when the UFF USF Biweekly took closer look at six snapshots of two cohorts of assistant professors who had survived their first year, we found that assistant professors who do not get tenure often do not make it to their sixth year.  In addition, it seems that many if not most assistant professors who get tenure get tenure early.

 

Unfortunately, there are numerous problems with the data, many apples and oranges problems, and a variety of anomalies, so a more accurate picture would require a more extensive study.  Still, statistical snapshots like these can provide useful information that anecdotes and rumors cannot.  In addition, they can correct some misconceptions - and reveal problems that were overlooked.  And whatever the Administration’s responses to reports of problems of individual employees, there is not denying the scale of a problem that seriously impacts the numbers.

 ↑ Back to top

*********** 

 

FSU Bargaining

By Matthew Lata


In early May, we concluded bargaining with our Administration.  This was a full-book negotiation, and, overall, we have to be pleased with the outcome. Administration clearly wanted to settle, and simply dropped some contentious issues including revising AORs for summer contracts and problematic language specifying Title IX implementation.

 

Regarding salary, the UFF-FSU faculty team won improvements in several areas. The agreement specifies .5% in performance-based increases for faculty with an overall annual evaluation of at least “meets FSU’s high expectations” on their latest annual performance evaluation.  Administration's initial offer was zero. Departmental merit raises will be 1.25% based on the most recent (2016) merit evaluation, and 0.25% for deans to distribute according to merit. The teams agreed to a total of $1,000,000 in Market Equity Increases, which for the first time will include Specialized Faculty. $800,000 will go to address market equity for Tenure-and-tenure-earning Faculty (with a cap of $4,500 per person) and $200,000 will go to address market equity for Specialized Faculty in the Librarian, Teaching Faculty, and Research Faculty categories (with a cap of $3,500 per person). Specialized Faculty in other categories (which are difficult to compare to national data) will receive a performance-based raise of 0.25%. Administration claimed to have only received about 60% of last year's funding for salaries from the Legislature.  Our agreement represents 70% of last year's gains. Faculty overwhelmingly approved the contract.

 

The teams also agreed to increase the number of full-pay, half-year sabbaticals from one per every 40 eligible faculty members to one per every 30 eligible faculty members, representing a 33% increase in the number of such sabbaticals.

The Academic Freedom article has new language specifying that the role of the University is not to shield individuals from expressions of ideas and opinions that may differ from their own and that it is committed to encouraging debate and deliberation of diverse ideas.

 

Not a bad end to the academic year.

 ↑ Back to top

***********

 

Union Election Scheduled for Tallahassee Community College Faculty

By Marshall Ogletree, Executive Director

 

The Public Employees Relations Commission (PERC) has scheduled a secret mail ballot election to begin July 14 and ending with a vote count at 2:00 P.M. on August 4 at the PERC office in Tallahassee. About 70% of eligible faculty signed cards for an election.

The TCC Chapter has been a non-bargaining UFF Chapter for several years but is expected to be a full-fledged UFF chapter this fall. Jen Robinson, chapter president, and organizing committee members have met weekly to plan their election campaign and have withstood a very aggressive anti-union campaign by the TCC President.

↑ Back to top


 

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