UFF News & Views October 2015

 

 

In this issue:

 

UFF Gets to Work! | UFF Represents at the Florida AFL-CIO Biennial Convention | Let’s Keep Our Campuses Gun Free | 

 

FAMU BEGINS CHAPTER NEGOTIATIONS | A Short Note from Seminole State College | Higher Ed and K-12 Unite! | 

 

UNF Activities | UF Chapter Gets on the Bus!UF-GAU News and Views | Market Equity and Much More at FSU | 


News Around FIU | USF-GAU News and ViewsPRESS RELEASE




 

UFF Gets to Work! (no relation to Rick Scott)

By Jennifer Proffitt, UFF President

Each spring, the many chapters of the UFF elect members to serve as senators. Every February and September, these leaders attend a statewide UFF meeting to determine the direction of our union and its finances as well as meet together in Bargaining Councils—university, college, graduate assistants and independent colleges—to discuss bargaining and other issues our constituencies face. We also provide training workshops at our September meeting. This year, the workshop topics included grievances, legislative and political action, chapter officer leadership, and membership.  We also had two special guest speakers—State Sen. Jack Latvala (R) and FEA Vice President (now President) Joanne McCall.

Other actions of the Senate include:

  • A resolution opposing guns on campus.
  • A proposal to create a budget workshop for Senators before our February Senate meeting.
  • Requests to ask the Department of Justice to revisit its position regarding FERPA as it applies to graduate assistants and to investigate the Fair Labor Standards Act’s exemption of graduate students for overtime.
  • The 2015-2016 budget.
  • New Committee appointments for our standing committees—Membership, Government Relations, and Contract Enforcement—and the creation of a new committee—Diversity & Leadership.

We also had a special award recognition for Tom Auxter for his 14 years of service as UFF’s president and for Daniel Rieger for his eight years of service as UFF’s first vice president. Their dedication to our union has moved us forward and increased our strength across the state in terms of membership and higher education policy.

                   

           
Tom Auxter receiving the AFL-CIO, A. Phillip RandolphLabor Hall of Fame Award at Florida AFL-CIO Convention. Pictured with Mike Williams, FL AFL-CIO President and UFF President Jennifer Proffitt UFF Ad for Tom Auxter, credit goes to David Fernandez, AFL-CIO 

 

The State University System (SUS) and Graduate Assistants United (GAU) Bargaining Councils also elected new vice presidents. Congratulations to Rob Nichols (FGCU), who will serve as the SUS VP, and to Martin Bremer (FSU-GAU), who will serve as the GAU VP. A huge thank you to Alan Gummerson (FIU) and to Kerr Ballenger (FSU-GAU) for their years of steadfast service. Peter Germroth (HCC) remains the College Bargaining Council VP and Jack McTague (St. Leo) remains the Independent College Bargaining Council VP. A big thank you to you all for your service.

This September had, I was told, a record-setting number of senators in attendance. Let’s beat that record in February!

 

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UFF Represents at the Florida AFL-CIO Biennial Convention

By Jennifer Proffitt, UFF President

In September, I was joined by six United Faculty of Florida members as delegates to the Florida AFL-CIO’s 2015 Biennial Convention.  The Florida AFL-CIO is the federation of more than 650 local unions across Florida that represent a wide range of trades and professions, including UFF and the locals of the Florida Education Association. 

When I ran to serve as your president, I promised that I would work to more fully engage our union with Florida’s broader labor movement to help build our strength as advocates for higher education, and our participation in the governing of the Florida AFL-CIO helps us advance that goal.  The more than 300 delegates to the convention elected the Executive Board, participated in workshops on critical issues facing our state, and adopted resolutions to help guide the state federation’s legislative program for the coming year.  Resolutions adopted included a reaffirmation of labor’s support for the “Fight for 15” campaign to raise the minimum wage, support for a ban on the controversial drilling process known as “fracking,” opposition to the privatizing of transit systems in Central Florida, support for the Labor Commission for Racial and Economic Justice, and many more. 

Perhaps the best part of the convention—in addition to presenting Immediate Past President Tom Auxter with the A. Randolph Award–was the opportunity to dialogue with union members from all walks of life about the issues we are facing in higher education.  I spoke with law enforcement officers, construction workers, transit employees, film crew professionals, state employees, postal workers and others and received overwhelming support for UFF and the fights we have on the horizon. 

I am so proud of our members who attended, but we had a number of slots for which we did not seat delegates. I will work with our chapter leadership to grow our delegation for next year’s COPE Endorsing Convention and beyond so that we can build real solidarity between the members of UFF and the rest of organized labor in Florida.  A big “Thank You” to the UFF delegates who attended:  Elizabeth Davenport, Tom Auxter, Teresa Lucas, Scott Launier, John White and Damon Davis.

 UFF President Jennifer Proffitt and Sen. Jack Latvala

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Let’s Keep Our Campuses Gun Free

By Jennifer Proffitt, UFF President

The United Faculty of Florida has once again adopted an official position in opposition to the lifting of the longstanding ban on guns on Florida’s college and university campuses. These bills (SB 68 and HB 4001) are also opposed once again by university and college presidents, campus law enforcement, the Board of Governors, student and faculty groups, and parents. On September 16th, the Senate Criminal Justice Committee passed the bill with a partisan 3-2 vote. Later that day, the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee passed the bill with an 8-5 vote, but the bill had bipartisan opposition. On October 20, the Senate Higher Education Committee passed the bill with a partisan 5-3 vote. As of this writing, the next step for the House is the Higher Education and Workforce Subcommittee, and the next step for the Senate is the Judiciary Committee. Our best chance to defeat this terrible idea is in the Senate. Call or visit your senator and encourage him/her to vote no on SB 68.

Members across the state have been writing letters, speaking out to local media and educating their colleagues and neighbors about this legislation. For example, UFF-UNF President John White took part in a debate about guns on campus on NPR’s First Coast Connect. You can listen to the segment here: http://news.wjct.org/post/100515-guns-college-campuses-disability-employment-month-act-dog-cole-pepper 

President White also wrote a letter to the editor that explains the “multitude of corollary problems associated with armed students on campus,” including:

  • “legally armed but poorly trained individuals in university hospitals, campus health and counseling centers;
  • armed fans at sporting events where alcohol is sold;
  • increased numbers of successful suicides (the second leading cause of death for college-aged students);
  • the deleterious effect on academic discussion and free speech in college classes;
  • the tens of millions of dollars in costs to the state’s universities and colleges for additional personnel and equipment;
  • the increased instances of lost or stolen weapons;
  • accidental discharges of weapons on campus (at least one instance of which has already occurred).”

Make your voices heard.

 

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FAMU BEGINS CHAPTER NEGOTIATIONS

By Elizabeth Davenport
UFF-FAMU President
UFF Vice President

The chapter’s bargaining teams will begin mandatory contract reopeners this month with the administration.  This year, FAMU faculty will be bargaining over Article 23: Salary; Article: 10 Evaluations and two additional articles.  In addition, FAMU graduate assistants and the DRS faculty with also begin contract negotiations. 

 

DRS Teacher Named One of Nine Outstanding Educators

 

One of these teachers was Anthony Thompson, who works at Florida A&M University Developmental Research School and is a member of UFF.   In the news release, the Governor’s Office states:

Anthony Thompson is passionate about teaching students how to analyze history, respect diversity and understand what it means to be an American citizen. Anthony challenges all his students to be lifelong learners and ultimately be able to compete in the global community. Anthony serves as the social studies chairman, after school program coordinator and Response to Intervention (RTI) coordinator in addition to teaching economics, government, world history and United States history. Anthony serves as lead teacher for the Lincoln Community Center after-school program.

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A Short Note from Seminole State College

By Diana Boyette

President, UFF-Seminole

UFF-Seminole is nearing the end of bargaining our first contract.  We have been bargaining this first contract since spring 2011!  Only seven articles remain on the table, high hopes to be done this fall.  We have started monthly faculty mixers, attendance has been sparse but growing.  Many have committed to coming to our November mixer as it is the first one close to our main campus.  Also we are hoping a visit from the NEA emerging leaders group in November will help us learn to how to boost our membership numbers! 

 

Editor’s Note: UFF-Seminole is a great example of union perseverance!

 

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Higher Ed and K-12 Unite!

By Jennifer Proffitt, UFF President

This year’s Florida Education Association Delegate Assembly was held October 15-17 in Orlando, and there was certainly excitement in the air as the delegates heard from the candidates for the positions of FEA president, vice president, secretary treasurer, and NEA director seat 1. The delegates elected Joanne McCall as president, Fedrick Ingram as vice president, Luke Flynt as secretary treasurer, and Brian Kerekes as NEA director. Congratulations to the new leadership team!

The Delegate Assembly is also the place where the organization sets its goals and priorities for the coming year. UFF is an affiliate of the FEA, and as such, helps direct the organization’s legislative and policy agenda. UFF proposed two pieces of this platform. The first was a motion to maintain the prohibition of firearms on college and university campuses. As you know, there are proposals in the Legislature to lift this ban and allow those with conceal carry permits to bring guns on campus. The second directed the FEA to encourage the National Education Association (a national affiliate of FEA) to sever ties with Western Governors University and to stop accepting advertising from this entity. As explained by Michael Buchler (FSU), “Western Governors University is a non-profit university that has been lobbying state governors and legislatures to outsource public higher education to WGU. WGU effectively diverts state education funds away from state universities and they circumvent faculty governance by working with state legislatures and governors to force public universities to accept their courses.” Both items passed overwhelmingly. Other motions that passed included supporting the “Fight for 15,” return to an elected commissioner of education, support for children living in poverty, oppose universal vouchers, support parent and student right to refuse standardized testing, halt the use of the Florida Standards Assessment for accountability purposes, and several others.

A number of UFF chapters earned FEA MEMBERSHIP AWARDS. Gold Awards for membership growth. That award went to Broward College, Eastern Florida State College, FAMU, FAU, FGCU, Florida SouthWestern State College, FSU-GAU, Florida State College of Jacksonville, St. Leo and Hillsborough Community College. Platinum awards for maintaining 70% or higher membership went to Palm Beach State College, Broward, HCC, St. Leo, and Florida SouthWestern State College. Congratulations to these chapters!

A big thank you to all of the delegates who attended, for this is an important place for us to advocate for higher education. I hope to see more delegates at the 2016 Assembly!

     

        
Elizabeth Davenport (UFF Vice President) receiving FAMU’s Gold Membership Award

From L to R, UFF President Jennifer Proffitt, Teresa Lucas (UFF-FIU) and Michael Buchler (UFF-FSU) at the FEA DA Teresa Hodge receiving Broward College Gold Membership Award
UFF-UCF President Scott Launier waiting to speak at the FEA DA

Martin Bremer (FSU-GAU) receiving chapter’s Gold Membership Award From L to R, Newly elected FEA officers: Fedrick Ingram (VP), Joanne McCall (President) and Luke Flynt (Secretary-Treasurer)

 

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UNF Activities

By John White
UFF-UNF President

1) On October 5, I was a guest on WJCT's "First Coast Connect" (NPR) to debate the guns on campus (campus carry) bill opposite the lead attorney for Campus Carry, Inc. Link to the audio HERE  (URL:  http://news.wjct.org/post/100515-guns-college-campuses-disability-employment-month-act-dog-cole-pepper). 

Chapter officers are also handing out t-shirts (below) opposing guns on campus at a university-sponsored event tonight on UNF's campus--a panel forum discussing guns and gun control to which no chapter officers or UNF faculty were invited to participate.

I also created a comprehensive web page for faculty addressing the campus carry issue:  http://unf-uff.org/guns-on-campus/

2) Our bargaining team is currently engaged in negotiations with administration in contract re-openers. We have proposed a comprehensive paid family leave policy. More information is available on our website.

3) We have grown our membership by slightly more than 5% over the past five months.

4) Our chapter unanimously passed a resolution opposing HB 4001 and SB 68.

 

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UF Chapter Gets on the Bus!

By Susan Hegeman
UFF-UF President

The UF chapter is currently busy with an impasse over our 2015 raises and has begun bargaining on the full contract.  But that doesn’t mean we can’t also have a little fun -- and employ some creative strategies to develop our membership.  This fall our terrific Socials Committee set up a bus tour of Gainesville to welcome new colleagues. Chapter VP Steve Kirn gave a wonderfully informative commentary on Gainesville-area sites: even longtime Gainesville residents learned a few things! Other highlights included a close-up encounter with a 12-foot gator on Paynes Prairie, and lunch at Gainesville’s famous Satchel’s Pizza. We took some new membership forms that day and generated a lot of good feeling about UFF.  We’re looking forward to doing it again next year.

 

Martin Bremer (FSU-GAU) and Teresa Hodge (Broward College) at UFF senate meeting

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UF-GAU News and Views

By Mary Roca

This fall, UF-GAU will continue to bargain with the university and is proceeding to arbitration. We’re prioritizing fairness this bargaining session. UF’s fee structure requires us to pay a flat dollar amount per semester (approximately $717 this semester)—subject to unilateral increases—regardless of stipend. We seek to render GA fees fixed and proportional to stipends. Our current proposal caps GA fees at 0.2% of our annual rates per credit hour registered, up to 3.6% for a typical academic year. We anticipate this change will lift up to 20% of our unit out of poverty. In addition to fees, we are bargaining for stipend raises, comprehensive anti-workplace harassment language in our contract, and a minimum 0.33 FTE for GAs who are instructors of record.

 

UF-GAU has decided to take the University to arbitration over unilateral changes to our health insurance. These changes were made without negotiations with GAU and include a significant increase in the cost of dependent premiums (a 22.8% increase from last year) and an increase in deductibles. For GAs who earn the minimum stipend of $13,000 for 0.5 FTE, extending health insurance to their partner and child(ren) will now cost 40% of their annual pay. Although the university agreed not to change the deductibles for the duration of the 2014-2017 contract, it refuses to acknowledge that it does not have the right to implement future unilateral changes and has kept the dependent premium increase. Arbitration will be on October 28, 2015, time and place to be determined.

UF-GAU grievance training

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Market Equity and Much More at FSU

By Matthew Lata

UFF-FSU President

By the middle of October, all components of faculty raises negotiated last summer, were in place.  Questions about the determination of the market equity component are being answered, and faculty morale has improved as a result.  We have been assured by the administration that they intend to continue to address market equity issues when our full-book bargaining starts this winter.  We are crossing our fingers and hoping that the Legislature will pass an appropriate budget in a timely manner this year, and that administration will in fact be willing and able to follow through on their promises. 

 

On the legislative side, we are working with a coalition of citizen and student groups to push back against campus carry (SB68/HB4001).  Again, despite the united opposition of law enforcement, administration, large majorities of students and faculty, and, according to recent polls, a sizable majority of Florida citizens, legislators and their allies still intend to impose their will on our campuses.   The situation is complicated by the introduction of HB163, which would allow open carry statewide.  The impact of HB163 on campus carry is so far unclear.  

 

Our recruiting effort is moving forward on several fronts.  We are combining our regular social events with a reception for new faculty as well as faculty visits.   A new social event next month will be “UFF Goes to the Opera”, as members and a guest will be invited to a performance of La Cenerentola (Cinderella) by the Florida State Opera.   Over a hundred tickets have already been reserved.  Author and filmmaker Laura Kipnis spoke at a UFF luncheon recently about Title IX and other issues, and we look forward to hearing from U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham later this month. 

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News Around FIU

By Ben Baez
UFF-FIU President

The main news for the UFF-FIU chapter is the ongoing contract negotiations (our previous contract expired in 2014). Progress is slow but steady (we are focusing on language for already-agreed upon matters). In addition to salaries for the upcoming year, we are negotiating overload pay and summer compensation for tuition-generating activities.

 

The chapter had a very successful luncheon for new faculty September 17. About 40 new faculty members attended the luncheon (approximately a third of them had already joined UFF, and a third joined at the event—which tripled the number from last year). We are following up with the other attendees and have recruited a few of them so far. Membership is the priority Number 1 for the chapter this year, and we will be conducting office visits with nonmembers (and members too!) throughout the year.

 

The chapter has also co-sponsored a number of events on campus, including a brown-bag on the plight of adjuncts on September 30, a screening of the incredible documentary on temp workers on October 6 (“A Day’s Work” by Executive Producer Dave DeSario - Trailer for film: see http://www.tempfilm.com/), and an upcoming voter registration drive on October 29 in the university’s main library. Adjuncts are profession’s version of temp labor, and the UFF-FIU is committed to supporting adjuncts in any way that it can legally do so.

 

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USF-GAU News and Views

By Lauren Cagle

USF Graduate Assistants United had a banner fall recruitment season. GAU leaders presented at 24 graduate orientations on both the Tampa and St. Petersburg campuses. The response was impressive. More than 70 new members joined, and many came out to our first social of the year. New members have also been active participants at the two general member meetings we’ve already held this semester. With another bargaining session coming up, we’re thrilled to have so much engagement and energy from both returning and new members. Check out the pictures of new members rocking their GAU gear with pride.

Members of USF-GAU

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PRESS RELEASE

September 24, 2015

Contacts: Jennifer Proffitt, President

    Marshall Ogletree, Interim Executive Director

    (850)224-8220

UFF Condemns Action of State College of Florida Board of Trustees

 

      Just this week, the trustees of the State College of Florida (SCF) voted 7-1 to end the longstanding continuing contract system for future SCF faculty. The continuing contract system at our colleges in Florida is their form of tenure as allowed under Rule 6A-14.0411, FAC, Employment Contracts for Full-Time Faculty.  

 

            “This is an outright attack on academic freedom in our higher education system in Florida”, stated Jennifer Proffitt, President of the United Faculty of Florida. “We condemn this action and the impact it will have on the future of full-time faculty at the State College of Florida in Manatee County and their ability to educate and engage students free from the undue influence of the political or ideological views of administrators, donors, and others.”

 

            Proffitt added, “UFF represents more than 20,000 faculty at eleven state universities and nine colleges in Florida. Unfortunately, the faculty at SCF were not organized and have no collective bargaining agreement for support. UFF knows we cannot count on politicians and administrators to protect academic freedom and forms of tenure allowed by Florida law and rule, but we can represent our members in the maintenance of these long cherished principles of academia.” 

 

The action to end continuing contracts passed over the objections of the SCF vice president of academic affairs who believes the action will result in lowering the quality of applicants for faculty positions and place SCF at a competitive disadvantage with other state colleges.

 

 

The Higher Education Affiliate of Florida Education Association, National Education Association, American Federation of Teachers, and AFL-CIO


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