Archive for the ‘News’ Category

USF faculty votes on ratification from Republic of Moldova

Monday, October 4th, 2010

Slice of life from the logistics of ratification. I just spent some time with a colleague on a Fulbright in the Republic of Moldova to give some technical assistance on voting in the CBA ratification election. She said she was able to vote, and I suspect she’s the furthest from Tampa to vote on ratification.

Voting ends tomorrow evening (Tuesday, October 5).


Problems voting? Check your cookie settings

Wednesday, September 29th, 2010

One colleague had problems earlier today logging into the ratification site and received a “session timed out” error message. The response from the tech support for

[Your colleague's] browser is set to reject all cookies. She can change this by googling ‘enable cookies’, finding the instructions for her type of web browser, and allowing cookies either for all sites or for the domain


Ratification on tentative agreement for 2010-2013 Collective Bargaining Agreement voting now open

Friday, September 24th, 2010

Earlier today, the United Faculty of Florida and the USF Board of Trustees signed off on the last pieces of a tentative agreement for a new Collective Bargaining Agreement to run 2010-2013. Descriptions of changes in the new contract (if ratified) and links to relevant documents are on the ratification page. Most of this round’s bargaining history is on the bargaining page.

Click on this link to vote. You will need the seven-character ratification code sent to in-unit employees in late August. Click on this link to request another copy of your code (please submit the request by the end of Tuesday, September 28). Voting will be open through the end of business Tuesday, October 5.

As chapter president, I strongly recommend voting to approve the contract. The statewide executive director, Ed Mitchell, also recommends voting to approve the contract. This is not a perfect contract. While it puts the domestic partner health insurance stipend program and expanded sabbaticals into the collective bargaining agreement as permanent language, and it has merit raises to base salaries for 2010-11 and 2011-12, it does not have the raises I think are just and appropriate for promoted instructors.

This is a tough bargaining environment, and this contract is the best or close to the best I think we could have gotten. The chapter agreed to a reduction in the release units and other concessions to preserve the existing layoff language and other important rights. The tentative agreement is much better than the likely alternative we faced at the time of the agreement (the end of the impasse process), and it is far better than what would happen if the agreement is rejected and we return to impasse. I urge all faculty and professional employees in the unit to vote for the tentative agreement.


How did higher ed fare in the 2010 legislative session?

Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010

From UFF President Tom Auxter:

UFF United Faculty of Florida
306 East Park Ave.
Tallahassee, FL  32301

June 2, 2010

Dear Colleague:

Now that the budget is signed, how did higher education fare in this year’s Legislature?  The good news is that we saw an increase of 3.5% in recurring revenue, in spite of a three billion dollar shortfall that forced severe cuts for many state agencies. This compares quite favorably with what happened elsewhere. In other states higher education was not spared cuts, and faculty layoffs are now expected in order to balance the budget.

Legislators are responding positively to our “invest in higher education” campaign. This is our second year of running a campaign that spares or minimizes the damage to higher education in a recession — bucking national trends.  Most legislators now accept the premise that investing in higher education is the fastest and strongest way out of a recession.

But we also faced serious threats to our profession in this legislative session, which could easily undermine progress we otherwise can make by investing in higher education. If faculty had not been successfully united in opposition to a series of bad bills this year, progress in the future could be meaningless. 

When the session began, we found ourselves in the middle of intense attacks on public employees in general and on public educators in particular. As one veteran higher education advocate put it, “They are coming at us from all directions.” It is amazing we were finally able to fend off these attacks, but we can fully expect they will continue in next year’s session.

In this year’s session legislators introduced a bill to cut all public employee salaries by 3%. There were 30 bills filed to cut public employee pensions.  (One of them cuts pensions by as much as half.) Another bill would eliminate the health insurance subsidy ($1800 annually) for retired public employees.

In addition, we saw intense attacks on tenure and the retention of experienced K-12 teachers (SB 6) — with reverberations across the nation. The attacks were primarily about changing both the criteria for evaluation of performance and the conditions for retention. Legislators were looking for a way to phase out more highly paid teachers with credentials and replace them with cheaper, inexperienced teachers they thought would be ready to teach with an eye on test scores.

In place of credentials and experience, politicians in the legislative leadership decided that improving student scores on standardized tests would now be the way to reward teachers for merit.  Advanced degrees in specializations like math and science would be discouraged because teachers could no longer pay back heavy education debts with additional salary compensation provided when they finished degrees. In other words, we would dummy down the content of the curriculum with no reward for anything except coaching students on how to improve test scores. Although K-12 teachers were the ones targeted in SB 6, it is clear that faculty would be on the chopping block next.

All of this is the brain-child of Jeb Bush and Senator John Thrasher (now chair of the state Republican Party). They teamed up once before (in 2001) in a failed attempt to abolish the collective bargaining contracts that protect faculty rights to due process, academic freedom, and retention based on credentials and experience.

Against the odds, faculty prevailed — in the midst of sustained attacks by legislators in leadership positions:

1. We defeated the 3% salary cut at the last minute in legislative conference.

2. We defeated all 30 bills limiting pensions and health insurance subsidies. 

3. We even defeated SB 6 — with the help of a veto by Governor Charlie Crist.

How is this possible? It happened because faculty joined forces with public employees and with teachers to make it happen. We contacted legislators in their district offices and made sure they heard our voices. Faculty actively became advocates for higher education — joining efforts by our affiliate, the Florida Education Association, and gaining recognition for our concerns.

We defeated bills that would have seriously damaged our profession. For our entire profession, it has been a life and death struggle.

The struggle is not over. The same politicians that launched a devious plan this year to rob public education of its status as a profession will be back again next year — with more plans and perhaps with a Governor who will back them.

Join us in the fight to defend the values at the heart of our profession. We need the full support of all faculty to stop the attacks. 

Sign the form* to join United Faculty of Florida. The 1% membership already paid for itself three times over when we stopped the 3% salary reduction this year.  Join your colleagues in the struggle for our professional future.

Our strength is in our membership. Every member counts.


Tom Auxter

President, United Faculty of Florida

*The membership form can be found at — Join us today.


Memorial Day and July 4th holidays both falling on Monday

Wednesday, May 26th, 2010

Yesterday, Senior Vice Provost sent an e-mail to all faculty in Academic Affairs-Tampa as follows:

Complaints have been received that some faculty are scheduling make-up classes during the summer term for days missed due to an official holiday. This year’s summer terms have two holidays, Memorial Day and Fourth of July, that occur on week days.

University and Collective Bargaining Agreement regulations specify that faculty members cannot be required to schedule classes to make up for those falling on a holiday; further, faculty members cannot require students to attend make-up classes for those falling on a holiday. The implication for those who are teaching in the summer is that courses must be planned with the knowledge that class days falling on a holiday cannot be rescheduled.

Chairs – please be sure to distribute this information to adjunct and graduate instructors who are teaching this summer.

Dr. Smith is correct in reading the contract language. The following language is from Article 17.5 of the collective bargaining agreement between UFF and the USF Board of Trustees:

An employee shall be entitled to observe all official holidays designated as holidays by the University, which shall at a minimum include those holidays designated in Fla. Stat. Section 110.117. No classes shall be scheduled on designated holidays. Classes not held because of a holiday shall not be rescheduled [emphasis added].

Faculty have a number of options to handle Monday classes in this summer’s term (or for any class cancelled because of holidays), including the following:

  • Holding optional makeup classes.
  • Providing assignments that are instructionally useful but do not require scheduled class time (such as intense work on individual projects, fieldwork scheduled by the student, etc.).
  • Providing material on Blackboard that students can access outside scheduled class time.

The choices of how to adjust to holidays–or any cancellation of classes (think hurricanes and flu)–should remain with the instructor for the class according to her or his best professional judgment.


Urgent FEA Legislative Update: Conference Committee Activity on Retirement Bills

Tuesday, April 20th, 2010

April 20, 2010. Fate of faculty pensions could be decided in a Conference Committee meeting to take place on Wednesday, April 21, Let legislators know you don’t want FRS altered!

Dear Colleague:
It is possible the Legislature could decide on the fate of faculty pensions tomorrow in a meeting of the Conference Committee, which makes the final decisions. Contact your legislators now.
See below for contact information and an update from our affiliate, the Florida Education Association.
Tom Auxter
President, United Faculty of Florida

Conference Committees began meeting yesterday, April 19, 2010 and are scheduled to continue meeting into the coming weekend.  We are still hearing only rumor and innuendo regarding how Conferees will handle FRS retirement issues.  FEA continues to closely monitor retirement issues pending in the remaining two weeks of the 2010 Session of the Florida Legislature.

This morning the Government Operations Conference Committee held a meeting where Conferees indicated that they were informed that the health insurance subsidy bill, H.B.5701 (Rep. Rivera, R-112, Miami), and the FRS bill, SB 2022 (Senator J.D. Alexander, R-17, Lake Wales), will be bumped to the overall Conference Chairs.  The Conference Committee meeting schedule released yesterday shows that outstanding conference issues will be bumped to overall Conference Chairs on Wednesday, April 21, 2010 at 1:00 p.m.  And by the way, the overall Conference Chairs happen to be Sen. Alexander and Rep. Rivera.

You help is still needed throughout these Conference Committee meetings.  Keep the pressure on your legislators about these issues by calling or emailing to let them know that they must defend and protect the public employee participants in the Florida Retirement System.

Contact your Senators and Representatives and urge them to oppose any changes to FRS retirement benefits.  Urge your Legislators to tell Conference Committee members not to balance the budget on the backs of public employees and retirees.

Urge your Legislators to tell Conference Committee members that they are opposed to any changes to FRS retirement benefits.

Senators:   To find your Senators, go to and look for “Find Your Legislators” at the bottom of the menu on the left side of the web site.

Representatives:   To find your Representatives, go to and click on the heading that reads “Find Your Representative” right below the blue bar and the red bar at the top of the page.


Early Retirement Incentive program documents

Monday, March 8th, 2010

March 5: Below are an e-mail circulated by HR Friday and a Word version of the application attached to the e-mail:

February 17: Below are the documents for the Early Retirement Incentive program, downloaded for the USF St. Pete HR website:

Interested employees in the faculty pay plan should contact Donna Pepper for more information (813-974-9357,


Chapter election ballots in the mail

Sunday, February 28th, 2010

The ballots are in the mail to chapter members for the chapter elections. You can read the UFF-USF chapter candidate statements (PDF) here. Note: due to a printer’s error, the ballot itself was not printed on blue paper but on white paper. Please complete both sides and return! (Put in the smaller envelope, seal without marking, and then put the unmarked small envelope into the addressed #10 envelope. Seal, print and sign your name on the front, and mail in.)


USF had $290 million in reserves at the end of June 2009

Tuesday, February 16th, 2010

The state of Florida has just released the audited financial statement of USF for 2008-09, and it has confirmed what the unaudited statements released several months ago indicated: USF is in decent financial shape, and it’s especially decent given the drop in state appropriations.

Audited financial report for USF 2008-09, released February 2010


MOU Ratification news

Saturday, January 16th, 2010

UFF finished its ratification vote this week, and the overwhelming majority of ballots cast were in favor of ratification. The Board of Trustees meets Thursday, January 21, for its ratification vote.