Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Arbitration award in annual-leave grievance

Friday, July 3rd, 2009

On July 2, USF and UFF received the arbitrator’s decision in the grievances filed over the University’s taking three days of leave last December from all annual-leave-accruing employees. Here is the heart of the decision:

The University, under the terms of the collective bargaining agreement, cannot require bargaining unit employees to use annual leave. The University, under the terms of the collective bargaining agreement, does not have the contractual right or the statutory right to require bargaining unit employees to take accrued annual leave. The required use of annual leave resulted in the employees being required to waive benefits provided by the Agreement, and to suffer a loss or diminution of contractual rights for which they were otherwise eligible. Specifically, the employee’s contractual rights and benefits to accrue the days for their use in accordance with the provisions of the contract…. After full consideration of the circumstances, this arbitrator agrees that the remedy must be for the University to reinstate the three days of accrued annual leave to the members of the bargaining unit who were required to take them.

The arbitrator has ordered the university to return three days of leave to all in the UFF bargaining unit who lost them in December. This is the result of the grievance process at its final step: a binding arbitration, and in this case, the arbitrator ruled that the United Faculty of Florida was correct in its interpretation of the contract, that the university did not have the authority to take three days of leave without bargaining a change at the table. Members’ dues pay for contract enforcement, and it is in the grievance process that UFF can hold the university accountable when it violates the contract.

Chapter grievance chair Mark Klisch processed the grievances at the local level; UFF’s executive director, Ed Mitchell, was the chapter’s representative at the arbitration hearing, and chief negotiator Robert Welker helped with preparation for the arbitration hearing.

Arbitrator Cary Singletary decision text, July 2002



No faculty layoffs expected at USF in 2009-10

Sunday, June 7th, 2009

A letter from Sherman Dorn, chapter president, to members of the USF chapter of UFF:

Dear friends and colleagues,

After news of layoff notices and threats at several other state universities in Florida, I wanted to write all of the chapter members to explain where USF is right now and why I do not expect faculty layoffs here. There are threats of layoffs (or have been layoff notices or layoffs) for those employees whom UFF represents at UF, UCF, FAU, FIU, FAMU, and FSU, but with one exception, there have been no instructional-faculty layoffs at USF, and I do not expect any wave of layoffs for at least the next year.

Two years ago, with the start of the state’s budget collapse, the chapter’s biweekly e-mail newsletter proclaimed that the sky is not falling, and the sky has NOT fallen. It may be a little closer to the ground, but it hasn’t fallen. We’ve come through the past few few years of crisis with a single layoff of an instructional faculty member; we filed (and resolved) a grievance related to that layoff, and the person was recalled into another position this spring. We settled a contract that gave us a 2.4% raise pool, USF has established a parental leave program, there have been no furloughs, and USF continues to give promotion raises.


There are several reasons why I do not expect faculty layoffs. Most importantly, DOZENS OF YOU contacted legislators to help make sure that next year’s budget is not catastrophic. Together with the efforts of other university faculty and other employees around the state, students, BOT and BOG members, administrators, business organizations, and newspapers, we succeeded in staving off what could have been an absolute disaster at USF. This is a victory in hard times, and you should take pride in it.

But there are other reasons, since the better-than-disastrous budget hasn’t stopped the threat of faculty layoffs at other universities. In the past year, the chapter has made clear that layoffs are not in the administration’s interest. Layoffs and other precipitous moves typically lead to contentious grievances, such as one the UFF won at UF or the grievance that we settled with the administration at USF. To its credit, the USF administration has recognized its interest in avoiding faculty layoffs. In addition, the provost declared last August that USF would be drawing on its reserve funds to protect programs — a move that UFF had called for since last spring, and one that is absolutely appropriate. It is in all of our interest that there be competent financial administrators at USF, and right now, USF appears to be in better shape than the other large public universities in Florida. Faculty Senate President Larry Branch sits on the university’s budget council, and I trust him to represent faculty interests on that council.

These facts do not mean that USF is in great financial shape, or that there won’t be the ordinary disagreements that a union will have with management. We will have to fight for higher-education budgets again next spring. We are waiting on arbitrator decisions in two grievances, including last December’s taking of three days of annual leave from 12-month employees. We still do not have a domestic partnership health insurance stipend, the wave of staff layoffs last summer upset many of us with how the university treated valuable staff members, and others of us have had fewer summer teaching opportunities or larger class sizes. But in comparison with the other large public universities in Florida, and in contrast to universities in many other states, we’re holding our own. We continue to grow in membership, we will hold the administration to its promises on establishing an instructor promotion track, and we will bargain a contract that continues to advance our interests and shared values.


There are several steps each of us can take now and in the next year to reduce the chances of faculty layoffs ever at USF:

1) Contact your state legislators twice in the next year. If each of us writes a letter this summer explaining the work we do and the students and communities we help, legislators will be more likely to want to protect USF and higher education in the 2010-11 budget. We also should expect to have to contact legislators during the next legislative session in March and April. You can do this in less than 30 minutes in the next year.

2) Talk to colleagues regularly about UFF and either joining or becoming more active members — including contacting state legislators. The more success that we have in mobilizing faculty to contact legislators, the easier it will be to protect higher education in the 2010-11 budget. And my e-mail today may motivate you, but you’re going to do a better job of motivating the colleague whose office is next to yours. You can do this in less than two minutes each week.

3) Help make UFF more effective in the next year. The chapter has been working with two USF graduate assistants this spring to discover what we need to do to be more effective and more active as a union chapter. A vote of a chapter meeting in the spring asked their help in looking at perceptions of the union in two departments, to hold up a mirror to the chapter’s leadership, and I asked for a frank assessment of what we need to do better. If you are in one of those departments and participated in an interview, THANK YOU. I won’t ever know who was interviewed or who said specific comments, but the chapter’s membership today and in the future needed and appreciates your honesty. I expect the draft report of the graduate students in the next few weeks, I will circulate the final report to all of the chapter’s officers and elected senators, and then each of you will receive a copy by the beginning of the fall. I will probably ask EVERY member of the chapter for help in following up on the report, in ways that will take no more than 5 minutes of your time during the summer or early fall. Where appropriate, I will appoint small committees to tackle the recommendations in the report.

Finally, beyond the written parts of our job and taking some time for union activism, it’s important to help our neighbors and coworkers who are losing their jobs. The fact that there are no layoffs does not mean that everyone at USF is keeping their jobs. Every year at USF, there are staff and faculty who are not reappointed, do not earn tenure, or otherwise leave USF without another job to go to. Every year at USF, either the chapter’s grievance officer or chapter president hears from half or more of faculty who were denied tenure to see if grievances are warranted. This year and last year have been no different in that respect, but the economy is the worst it has been in more than 50 years. If you have received a letter of nonreappointment or have been denied tenure, I know that looking for other jobs is harder than at any other time since the Great Depression. The federal stimulus package is supposed to boost and extend unemployment benefits, and it will cover part of COBRA health-care extensions for several months, but that is cold comfort when you’re looking for a job. If you just need a friendly ear, even if it’s not about union stuff, e-mail me at any time and we can talk. If you know someone who is leaving USF without another job, please do not avoid the person down the hall who is leaving in two, six, or twelve months. Say hello, encourage them to keep looking for a job, and remind them to apply for unemployment benefits and ask the unemployment office about COBRA subsidies.

I hope that in a few years, the economy will be strong, and we can talk about a range of accomplishments through these hard times and into the future. But for now, you should be confident that we are not facing a massive wave of layoffs and I do not expect one in the next year.



Sherman Dorn
USF Chapter President
United Faculty of Florida


Letter about budget from Tom Auxter

Tuesday, May 5th, 2009

A letter to all UFF members from statewide UFF President Tom Auxter:

Dear Colleague:

It worked! The campaign to contact legislators, which started in February and ended today, delivered results in funding for higher education. We know that cuts in higher education are always the first knee-jerk reaction from politicians when there is a recession. But faculty were ready and already contacting legislators about the funding crisis we faced a month before the legislative session began. We sent emails and made phone calls to deliver the message from constituents. We built a coalition, held rallies, and joined forces with students to expand the base for legislative contacts.

At the beginning of the session higher education was threatened with a half-billion dollar budget cut by the House, which would have meant at least a 10% cut in budgets already strained to the limits. At that point we focused on the House members who could be pivotal in creating change, and we got the result we needed: the House matched the Senate budget providing roughly the same funding we have in this year’s budget, when the stimulus dollars are added.

Special thanks to the government relations staff at the Florida Education Association for the coaching that enabled us to do this. Our success in the House was also due in large measure to help from the UFF members we helped elect to the House — Bill Heller, Keith Fitzgerald, and Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda. They used every opportunity to make the case to other legislators that cuts would cause severe and irreversible damage to the economic engine of the state and to the future of students in Florida.

Next year we will face another funding challenge from the Legislature. But we have learned how to win against seemingly overwhelming odds, and we have managed to educate enough legislators about the value of what we do that we will have a head start in the process.

Thanks for your sustained support through the last three months. To nail down our victory for next year, ask a non-union member to join UFF. With the full support of every faculty member, we will prevail in the difficult times ahead.


Tom Auxter
United Faculty of Florida


Sherman Dorn’s response to provost task force preliminary recommendations

Tuesday, May 5th, 2009

In late April, the provost’s task force on faculty roles, responsibilities, and rewards issued preliminary recommendations. Sherman Dorn has written a response to the preliminary recommendations.


Contents of January 8, 2009 UFF Biweekly Extra

Friday, January 9th, 2009

Joining the United Faculty of Florida is as easy as following the link to . Every employee within the UFF bargaining unit should join.

By the end of this week, all members of the bargaining unit (not just union members) should have received the harcopy Spring 2009 issue of Uncommon Sense, which is posted at . If you did not receive your copy, please let us know. The first regular UFF Biweekly of the semester will be broadcast on January 15, and the first Chapter meeting will be at noon on January 16 in SOC 384..

USF’s "unrestricted net assets" became an issue after they were pointed out by Leroy Dubeck, a physics professor who looks at university budgets for the National Education Association. UFF asked that Dubeck look at USF’s statement to the State of Florida. Dubeck will be visiting Florida this month, and will give a presentation on Thursday, January 22, at 2 pm, in Marshall Center 2001 (A). All members of the USF community with a stake in USF’s future are strongly encouraged to attend. For more, see below or at .

It’s election season! All UFF members are eligible to run for president, vice president, treasurer, or secretary. All UFF members are eligible to run for UFF senator and/or FEA delegate. For a description of how this works, see the on-line issue of the Spring 2009 Uncommon Sense posted at . For information on how to nominate or self-nominate, go to the nomination page at ; all nomination materials are due on January 30; submit nominations to the Election Chair at . All UFF members are encouraged to vote!

During the Spring, 2009, Chapter meetings will be on alternate Fridays, starting at noon, on January 16 & 30, February 13 & 27, March 13 & 27, April 10 & 24. We will meet at USF-Tampa in SOC 384, except for February 13 (when we will meet in USF-Sarasota, room TBA), and April 10 (when we will meet in USF-Lakeland/Polytech, room TBA). Come and join the movement.

Everyone eligible for the 2% pay increase should have seen that in your January 2, 2009, salary deposit. Merit increases will come one or two pay periods later, because that has to be calculated within each department and checked. At approximately the same time as the merit increases are put into the university’s payroll database, HR will send out the payment increase notices to everyone in the unit.

Chapter officers and Academic Computing have heard of a few problems with the transition to Blackboard 8 and the new "Grade Center." One problem revolves around the display of cells when font is enlarged (e.g., for faculty and graduate TAs with low vision). If you need technical support for Blackboard, please call the Blackboard Trainers group at 974-3286; if you are having problems related to vision impairments, please also contact Sherman Dorn ( ) so the chapter can track this issue in particular.

A newly-revised policy on course notes and recordings that "sets forth limitations on, and the University of South Florida’s regulation of the use of notes/recordings" is posted at . It gives more control to the instructor on notetaking and recordings and makes clear that students cannot resell notes or recordings (to a commercial note-distribution company) without the express permission of the university and the class instructor. Students may record class presentations for disability-related reasons.

New regulations on academic integrity and disruption of academic processes have been approved. For more, see below or at .


Ratification complete

Thursday, December 11th, 2008

Yesterday, the United Faculty of Florida finished its ratification. The Board of Trustees have just ratified the 2008-09 Collective Bargaining Agreement in its regular board meeting.


Tentatively-agreed CBA details available now

Monday, December 1st, 2008

A summary of changes to and the full text of the tentative agreement are now available on the CBA ratification page. Voting-station days and times will be available by the end of the day.


Ratification process

Saturday, November 29th, 2008

After the two sides reach a tentative agreement in collective bargaining, each side must go through a ratification process. For the union, that means a vote open to all employees in the bargaining unit (whether members or not), with information about changes in the collective bargaining agreement available to all employees.

The exact dates and times for balloting on the one-year tentative agreement reached on Wednesday are not yet set, but on the Tampa and St Pete campuses, they will probably be in front of or in the library, and they will probably be late in the last week of classes. Information on the tentative agreement will be on the ratification information page early next week, as well as elsewhere.


Tentative agreement

Saturday, November 29th, 2008

The USF Board of Trustees and the United Faculty of Florida are pleased to announce they have reached a tentative agreement on a new collective bargaining agreement. Details will be forthcoming early next week


Early voting begins tomorrow!

Sunday, October 19th, 2008

A complete list of West Central Florida Federation of Labor endorsements cover all of the counties in the Tampa Bay region and dozens of races. The top of the ticket is the presidential race, and all of our affiliates have endorsed Barack Obama, the Democratic Party nominee.

Early voting starts Monday, October 20. To find out your nearest early-voting locations, there is a simple form at the Vote for Change website. There is still time to request a mail-in ballot, and you do NOT need to trust the U.S. mails. You can personally deliver your mail-in ballot to your county’s Supervisor of Elections office. (You cannot bring mail-in ballots to voting places.)