Archive for June, 2009

Minutes June 19, 2009

Friday, June 19th, 2009

USF-UFF Chapter Meeting at St. Petersburg

Agenda & Introductions.
Ten members were in attendance, with three visitors.

Minutes approved.

The chapter continues to get new members.

USF St. Petersburg.
The chapter discussed particular concerns of St. Petersburg.

Constitution & Bylaws.
Discussion of the Constitution & Bylaws. This will be on the agenda of the meeting on July 17.

State Funding.
Discussion of the implications of using stimulus funding to support employees.

English Language Institute.
Discussion of USF’s discussions with the INTO company on June 16.

  • Motion that the President of the Chapter request that he present the issue to the Senate Executive Committee. Motion made, seconded, and approved.

The next Senate Executive Committee meeting will be on July 1 at 3 pm in SVC 5012.


  • Bargaining. The Chief Negotiator described the situation.
  • Grievances. Grievances besides those originating from St. Petersburg.

Good of the Order.
We are organizing a reception in fall.

These minutes respectfully submitted by G. McColm on June 19, 2009.


Agenda, June 19, 2009, chapter meeting

Thursday, June 18th, 2009

Draft agenda, June 19 chapter meeting (COQ 220, USFSP), noon

  1. Introductions/agenda
  2. Membership
  3. Minutes from June 5 meeting
  4. USF St. Petersburg concerns (open forum)
  5. USF Constitution and Bylaws
  6. State environment
  7. Reports
  8. For the good of the order

I have an event on the USF-Tampa campus Friday afternoon, so the priority for the time I am on campus will be the regional-campus concerns. Chapter VP Mark Klisch will preside if I have to leave before the ending of the meeting.


Proposals on the table May 29, 2009

Tuesday, June 9th, 2009

At the May 29, 2009, collective bargaining session between UFF and USF, the union put five proposals on the table:

  •  A proposed Memorandum of Understanding that would phase in eligibility for the instructor promotion track. This came from consultation discussions earlier in the spring when the administration asked about a phase-in. Essentially, the university is reluctant to open promotion to 150 instructors in a single year. The UFF’s position is that if the university was going to deny promotion opportunities on the basis of seniority, that was a change in the terms and conditions of employment, and we wanted to make sure that a reasonable number of instructors were eligible in the first year. The proposed Memorandum of Understanding would finish the phase in after 3 years (after which instructors with at least 5 years of service in a specific rank would be eligible to apply for promotion).
  • Expanded sabbatical opportunities at partial pay. Based on bargaining-survey results and other input from the unit, the UFF proposed several short-term (4- or 8-week) professional-development leaves for non-tenure-track employees in the bargaining unit, one-semester partial-pay sabbaticals for tenured faculty, and one-semester partial-pay sabbaticals for tenure-track faculty after mid-tenure reviews. The intent would be to create sabbatical and professional-development opportunities that would not cost the university a cent.
  • Workplace safety. Based on bargaining-survey results and other input from the unit, the UFF proposed specific procedures to allow faculty and other in-unit employees to request moving upon documented impacts on health from environmental office conditions.
  • Shared governance. Based on bargaining-survey results and other input from the unit, the UFF proposed an additional section in the academic-freedom article that would put in place several procedural guarantees for shared governance.
  • Contract waivers. Based on staff and legal information from Tallahassee, the UFF proposed some technical language affecting the timing and expiration of contract waivers.

There was no discussion of other articles in the CBA and no agreement on any article or Memorandum of Understanding. As of today, the next collective-bargaining session is not yet scheduled.


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


Minutes June 5, 2009

Sunday, June 7th, 2009

USF-UFF Chapter Meeting

Agenda & Introductions.
Fifteen people were in attendance.

Item on the Constitution & Bylaws Committee corrected; minutes approved as amended.


  • Motion to provide $ 200 to support sending John Perry to Latin America in a peace effort. Motion made, seconded, and passed.

Discussion of events the Chapter could organize for expanding membership.

  • Motion to pay expenses for UFF members to attend grievance training on the weekend of the UFF Senate meeting. Motion made, seconded, and passed.


  • Bargaining.
    Discussion of upcoming bargaining.

  • Grievances.
    Discussion of outstanding grievances.

  • Politics.
    Discussion of 2010 elections.

  • Communications.
    Discussion of coverage of grievances and grievance process.

  • Senate.
    USF Senate Vice President reported on some issues currently before the Senate Executive Committee.

These minutes respectfully submitted by G. McColm on June 7, 2009.


Charge to ad hoc committee on chapter constitution/bylaws

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009

Because some of the chapter documents (constitution and bylaws) date from the old Board of Regents, including when there was statewide bargaining, I’ve asked an ad hoc committee to look at a few specific substantive issues that might need changing. The following is the charge in an e-mail sent to the members of the ad hoc committee appointed in May 2009:

Thank you all for being willing to serve on the ad hoc committee, and for being patient while I drafted this hopefully short and well-defined scope for the committee:

1. Your committee is to look at the following issues in the constitution and bylaws and recommend changes as appropriate to the chapter membership:

a) Updating terminology as necessary (e.g., from Board of Regents to BOG/BOT).
b) Adding material to reflect the chapter’s obligation to bargain locally. There needs to be a section, probably in the bylaws (where committees are described), on appointment of a bargaining team and chief negotiator — this is *not* the same as the bargaining committee, which was written to funnel information up to the no-longer-existing state bargaining team.
c) Considering whether the chapter should revise the bylaws-mandated committee structure. The bylaws describe a bargaining committee from a statewide-bargaining context as well as a stewards and membership committee, and none of those are currently operating as described in the by-laws. Would it make sense to create a single “department/college reps” committee for those functions, or try to fill out the currently-listed committees?
d) Drafting written elections procedures, which are all conducted by past practice, none written in the bylaws. An issue to consider explicitly, among others: whether offices can be filled by acclamation when the number of nominations equals the number of seats. I felt silly in the last two years sitting on my hands instead of counting ballots when I was unopposed for chapter president. But that may be my guilt speaking instead of common sense.

2. To have anything in place for the next round of chapter elections, it would be necessary to ratify changes by the mid- to late fall, so if proposed language is available to consider by the beginning of the fall, that would be perfect. While you should feel free to draft specific language, you can call on at least me for any scutwork of that sort.

3. If there are other issues that pop up in discussion, feel free to perform triage on it, addressing those you think can be addressed in the summer or recommending that others be considered during the academic year.

If you have any questions or need technical assistance, please let me know.

The first meeting of the ad hoc committee is this Friday, June 5, in CIS 2020, after the regular chapter meeting at CDBs.


Chapter meeting, June 5, CDBs

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009

The next chapter meeting will be noon, June 5, 2009, in CDBs on Fowler Avenue in Tampa. The tentative agenda:

  1. Introductions/agenda
  2. Membership
  3. Minutes
  4. Chapter budget discussion for 2009-10 (this is about the UFF chapter budget, not the USF budget)
  5. Reports
  6. For the good of the order