UFF News & Views September 2016

 

 

Goodbye Summer…Hello Politics | UFF Organizing Update |

Graduate assistants at FAMU came together and demanded answers and change!

UNFInterest-based Bargaining at Florida State College at Jacksonville

UFF-FIU 2016 Accomplishments Report

 



Goodbye Summer…Hello Politics

By Jennifer Proffitt, UFF President

 

Guns on campus. Performance funding. Changes to healthcare and retirement benefits for state university employees. Questions regarding the need for tenure and continuing contracts. These are just a few of the issues we will likely face in the coming legislative session, which is why the 2016 election is so very important at the state level. Following a very contentious redistricting process including lawsuits and multiple special legislative sessions, the courts drew new district maps for Florida’s congressional delegation and the Florida Senate, more accurately reflecting the political and demographic makeup of the electorate.  This hard fought victory that began with the Fair Districts constitutional amendment has created new opportunities to elect legislators not bound by the gerrymandered districts of the past, legislators beholden more to the people than the party bosses. 

The United Faculty of Florida is an affiliate of the Florida AFL-CIO, the state federation of the national AFL-CIO.  To facilitate cooperation between labor organizations, the Florida AFL-CIO is charged with making endorsements in the state’s legislative races.  These endorsements are decided by all affiliated unions at the COPE Endorsing Convention. In those races in which an endorsement has not been made, local unions and state associations are able to support the candidate(s) of their choice.  A listing of endorsed candidates can be found here www.flaflcio.org under the “Latest Publications” tab.

These candidates and others supported by the Florida Education Association and UFF need our support, especially those running for the Florida Senate.  The Senate is where we have been able to do the most for our members and represents some of the best chances to change the direction of the Florida Legislature. Getting out the vote is essential for all of our chapters, for policies affecting the future of higher education in Florida is largely in the Legislature’s hands. We need to elect those who are willing to listen to the experts—faculty—regarding what is best for our students and for our institutions. There are many ways to get involved.  Each UFF chapter has delegates to the regional Central Labor Councils, and these councils will be holding area canvasses, phone banks and other electoral mobilization activities.  Over the next few weeks, we will be sending out listings for these activities as well as others sponsored by the Florida Education Association and other groups.  We are also available to help our chapters sponsor their own phone banks, forums, and other activities designed to get out the vote. 

We also need to be looking ahead to the 2018 election, for the new governor will not only set the agenda regarding education in Florida, but also she/he will appoint the members of the Board of Governors, the Department of Education commissioner, and, perhaps most importantly, the Board of Trustee members at each of our institutions. Those making decisions at our colleges and universities are political appointees, not elected like school board members, so there’s little accountability other than to the governor. We need to hold them accountable through electing a pro-higher education governor and by attending our Board of Trustee meetings regularly, speaking for our colleagues and students when necessary.

As we kick off the political season, it is important for UFF to take every opportunity to exercise our political muscle.  As you have seen in the pages of News and Views, we have been making great strides in building our membership across Florida.  Now we need to develop the political programs and capacity to translate those gains into real political strength for the betterment of our institutions.  Please keep an eye out for communications from UFF about how you can get involved and be a part of our efforts.

UFF President Jennifer Proffitt at Women’s Equality Day Rally in Tallahassee

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UFF Organizing Update

By Marshall Ogletree, Executive Director

 

Membership 365

UFF has been awarded an FEA Membership 365 Grant to continue membership organizing in all of our chapters. We also have received support from both NEA and AFT in organizing at FSU, UF, UCF and USF in efforts to achieve majority membership at each university. The national grants also are directed to support new chapter organizing.

Tallahassee Community College (TCC)

The faculty of Tallahassee Community College, by a vote of 139–22, became the newest United Faculty of Florida chapter August 4. The faculty voted by an 86.3% margin for UFF with 87% of the faculty voting. The vote count followed a three-week period of balloting by mail and was certified by the Florida Public Employees Relations Commission (PERC). See the short video following the TCC victory on the UFF website. Click here.

 

State College of Florida, Manatee – Sarasota (SCF)

 

Faculty members voted 75-24 for UFF representation at the State College of Florida. Seventy-six percent of faculty voting supported the newest UFF chapter and 92% of all eligible faculty voted in the referendum for unionization.

 

Florida Polytechnic University (FPU)

 

FPU faculty will be sent union representation election ballots September 19 and votes will be counted three weeks later October 10. FPU unit is just more than 50 faculty members.

 

St. Petersburg College (SPC)

 

St. Petersburg College has more than 350 faculty members. Call for election cards have been submitted to PERC and sufficiency for an election has been granted. Issues such as bargaining unit composition, election timeframes and others are still under discussion. The SPC Organizing Committee is actively at work increasing the size of their team and inoculating faculty against outrageous claims and misstatements by administration and their hired anti-union law firm.

 

Senate District 23 candidate and UFF member Frank Alcock speaking to New College and State College of Florida members on Labor Day.

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Graduate assistants at FAMU came together and demanded answers and change!

 

 

Fall 2015 health insurance was abruptly cancelled without any notice to GAs. Thus leaving them without medical coverage for doctor visits, medicine and other medical needs. FAMU GAs worked hard to ensure that health insurance was immediately reinstated and that medical fees were reimbursed for GAs having issues during the time of no coverage. This was the first triumph for FAMU-GAU leading into the 2016 year. (Picture above is a screenshot from instagram showing 95 likes for speaking at our first event at BOT Meeting)


Beginning the fall semester, graduate students were indirectly informed that they would not have a continued assistantship and that incoming students in STEM would not be awarded assistantships through the school of graduate studies. With these words, a call of action was demanded from the GAs and with a fight we received a few accomplishments. The day after having a demonstration of discontent, the BOT called a meeting with the dean of College of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Pharmacy, dean of graduate studies and research, provost, other university officials and GAs. There they agreed to look into changing their policy for how they handle funding for the McKnight fellows by looking into giving fellows more money in which they deserve for stepping out and earning additional funding awards, some students that did not have assistantships will be awarded. (Picture above is demonstration of discontent at BOT Meeting along with the support of UFF-FSU-GAU)

 

Amidst our fight for our voices and troubles to be heard, we were given additional promises by Dean Thompson that included putting a PhD lounging area in the new pharmacy building and adding an additional graduate student section on the website designed to assist PhD students with their matriculation at FAMU.  The accomplishments that we have received thus far are only a start and there is more to be done. (Picture above of a picnic event in 2015) (Below is original picture from 1st event at BOT)

Nusrat Chowdury, Aurellia Whitmore, Kevin Affram, Samantha Jones

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UNF

By John White

 

UNF's chapter officers led annual faculty award recipients

 

At UNF's Convocation (Friday, August 26), the leaders of the university's UFF chapter leaders were recognized for their many outstanding contributions to the university. Chapter President John W. White and Membership Co-Chair Mark Ari received university's two annual Outstanding Service Awards, Treasurer Caroline Guardino received an award for Outstanding Graduate Teaching, and Grievance Officer Dan Dinsmore received an award for Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching. Chapter members received awards in each category recognized (Distinguished Professor and Distinguished Professor Runner-Up Awards, Outstanding Scholarship Award, Outstanding International Leadership Award, and the Presidential Diversity and Inclusion Award). And last year Susan Perez, the chapter's vice president, received the Outstanding Service Award.

 

Independent Study and Thesis/Dissertation Committee Compensation?

UNF faculty and chapter leaders provided feedback to university administration on the latter's model for a "banking" system by which to compensate faculty for their work on independent studies, masters theses and doctoral dissertations. See unf-uff.org for more on this issue.

 

Disciplinary Action Via Annual Reviews?

Grievance Officer Dan Dinsmore and chapter officers are fighting attempts by some UNF administrators to include disciplinary actions or corrective recommendations in faculty members' annual reviews (actions that do not affect faculty members' contracted duties). We believe that there is an appropriate means for addressing such issues, including direct communication between chairs and faculty and, if necessary, in a faculty member's personnel file. It is a breach of the CBA, however, to include in a chair's evaluation information that does not reflect on a faculty member's teaching, scholarship, or service.


 



Interest-based Bargaining at Florida State College at Jacksonville – 2016

Facing the commencement of negotiation of a new collective bargaining agreement for UFF-FSCJ in 2016, the union leadership representing the faculty at Florida State College at Jacksonville partnered with the college administration to explore the possibility of using a different process – one that looked for ways to achieve bargaining outcomes that would meet the interests of both parties.  A joint administration-union team investigated many different approaches, finally identifying one promising candidate in Los Rios Community College District near Sacramento, Calif. 

The Los Rios model was seasoned – it had been in use for about two decades, and the processes utilized in that model had been revised, refined and evaluated many times to reach the current evolution.  As important, Los Rios conducts training in the use of the model twice each year, and they were willing to accept a cadre of pilgrims from across the country in Florida. There were seven of us – three from the union, three from the administration, and one retired administrator who the parties had agreed would be an acceptable “neutral” facilitator to guide us through the bargaining process using IBB principles. 

Interest-based Bargaining is the product of the Harvard Negotiation Project, Harvard Law School, led by Roger Fisher and William Ury.  It is explained in their paperback “Getting to YES. Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In.”    IBB is based on four main pillars –

  1. Separate the People from the Problem.  (Protect the relationships among parties)
  2. Focus on Interests, Not on Positions. (Why do you want this?)
  3. Invent Options for Mutual Gain.  (More than one answer; the pie is not fixed; help them)
  4. Insist on Using Objective Criteria. (Professional standards, cost, what a court would do)

So what happened?

Both sides started alone with their “issues” – then compared notes…

  1.  Issues – the facts of a situation to be remedied – like low pay compared to other colleges.
  2. Interests -   Both parties recognize the importance of paying a salary that attracts talent, whether it applies to faculty who teach the students, or to any other job in the college.
  3. Constraints – What prevents us from achieving these interests? – budget, efficiency
  4. BATNA – Best alternative to a negotiated agreement – how much can I get without an agreement on my own?

We sat in a “mixed” seating – admin, union, admin, union, etc. Not all on one side or the other. Everything was said out loud.  No whispering. Could call caucus, but agreed to share the result of the caucus on returning to the group. Everyone on first-name basis only, then and now.

Results –

  1.  Noticeably better working relationships, both during negotiation and after.  We now call it “Interest-based Approach” – not ‘bargaining’. 
  2. Many more issues resolved with a phone call or e-mail.  Not nearly as many grievances.
  3. Very “cards on the table” type communication – “It’s better for us to keep each other informed so there’s no surprises.”
  4. We got to see each other perform as professionals – see each other excel in a peer-peer situation. 
  5. Many articles in the CBA that were previously dealt with superficially were now discussed in considerable depth, so that both sides learned much from each other, and both understood dimensions we didn’t know before.  Example – the scope and complexity of the “partial points” problem, where the hours worked by faculty members in labs, adult ed, non-credit courses like truck-driving school and other areas create issues that have to be dealt with, but the language that solves a problem in one area can create a problem in another.
  6. Some problems that were already too complex were solved by simplicity.  Example – office hours.  At one point, we were able to simply say, “Look – you want us to sit in our offices? We can do that and become experts at Candy Crush, but we won’t see students because they don’t come here!  Let us modify our ‘office hours’ to accomplish the goals we BOTH desire, not just meet a time clock fetish!” Result – 50% of the office hours have to be on campus, but not necessarily in the office.  The other 50% can be anything the supervisor and faculty member can agree on!  Much more flexible. Disputes can be resolved by next level of administration and union.
  7. Salary increase – Agreed to 2.44% raise this year, and 2.44% next year plus student retention “payment” of up to another 2.0% depending on how much retention improves, PLUS up to 1% increase for taking developmental courses. 

The only caveat to IBB – some faculty members in the bargaining unit measure the union’s effectiveness not by the results achieved, but by the thunder and lightning.  The fact that we didn’t have coverage in the local daily newspaper like the last contract led some to believe we were not being sufficiently aggressive.  We have to work on that image issue.

Harvey Slentz, J.D., President, UFF- Florida State College at Jacksonville, September 13, 2016.


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UFF-FIU 2016 Accomplishments Report

 

List of accomplishments through this year’s bargaining:

• Salary raise: 1% to the base.

• Merit with $750 minimum to the base.

• Instructor tuition reimbursement, particularly for folks trying to get a PhD.

• Parental leave now split among 2 time periods.

• Grievance period extended from 30 days to 45 days.

• Spousal and family enrollment in courses without needing to join in a degree program.

• Maintaining the right not to teach online.

 

Pictures included here from this year’s strategic planning:

 


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UFF-UCF Hosts New Faculty Reception


UFF senator Jonathan Beever (center) and UCF Provost Dale Whitaker (right) chat with a new faculty member at the reception 

On August 15, UFF-UCF hosted a reception for new faculty hires. Approximately 75 people attended the event, which followed the two-day university-sponsored new faculty orientation. The reception gave UFF the opportunity to welcome our newest faculty, tell them about our union, share free food, drinks, and swag, introduce them to our great members and officers, ask them to join our union, and, if possible, become activists! We gained five new members at this event alone and signed up four new activists.

 

UFF-UCF President Scott Launier gave a speech about the union’s mission: “To protect and support the practice of our academic professions, including teaching, research and service.” His speech referenced the Pulse Nightclub shooting that occurred in Orlando on July 11, killing 49 people and injuring over 50. “The shooting makes clear the urgency of our fight against ignorance and intolerance.”

 

As UCF continues to grow its faculty—our bargaining unit currently stands at 1586—we need to increase our membership just to keep up with the density we already have, which is close to 30%. We are not content to just break even. This year our goal is to grow by 150 members. New faculty receptions are always a great way for us to make our case about the value of the union for them and the communities we serve.


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