The UNF Chapter has been Busy.
The Chapter has been active in training, consultation, and grievance work these last few months.
Issues We Are Watching
Remain!-Protection Offered by the Contract
When Florida legislators-facing large state budget deficits-moved to cut faculty salaries last fall, they carefully exempted those who were covered by the United Faculty of Florida collective bargaining agreement with the State University System in Florida. In cutting over a billion dollars from the state budget, the Legislature proposed reneging on salary increases for state employees which were scheduled to begin November 1.
However, the State exempted those faculty covered by the collective bargaining agreement and thus recognized the primacy of that agreement. In 1992, the last time the Legislature tried to circumvent the agreement, UFF took the Legislature to the State Supreme Court-and won.
Notes UFF President, Tom Auxter, a philosophy professor at the University of Florida, "The next time a faculty member says that 1 percent is too much to pay in union dues, tell them the reason they have a pay raise this year-while everything around them is being cut-is that they have a collective bargaining agreement."
UFF Grows stronger with the unification of FEA and FTP
Our two state-wide teachers' unions have joined forces to provide even more support for Florida educators. The Florida Education Association (AFT affiliate) and the Florida Teaching Profession (NEA affiliate) agreed recently to merge with the result that we will have a stronger voice in the legislature, a greater support system for the local chapters, and the opportunity to champion the needs of educators.
UNF Develops an Employee Education Policy
One of the results of the 2001 Spring Legislative Session was the discontinuation of state-level support for free university courses for employees. Therefore, individual universities were left with the option of developing their own plans. UNF/UFF President Ellie Scheirer worked closely with Janet Owen to craft the UNF Employee Education Policy subsequently approved. We are now into our second term of supporting UNF employees continuing their education. While not widely used by unit members, there is no doubt that such a policy promotes a positive climate on campus!
UFF Lobbies on your Behalf
The United Faculty of Florida speaks for faculty members. Our Executive Director, Llona Geiger, stays in close contact with state officials, lobbies on our behalf, and is carefully following activities of the new Florida Board of Education and activities of the Legislature.
UFF President Tom Auxter contacted Governor Bush to express our concern about reorganization and academic freedom. President Auxter commented:
Stan Swart, the UNF/UFF
Grievance Representative, has worked with several faculty to resolve local
concerns through both the formal grievance process and through informal
approaches. Grievances involving the procedure for merit pay and work
load are still pending. The contract, your one protection against arbitrary
and capricious decisions, offers a process to bring faculty and administration
together to develop mutually acceptable solutions.
The UFF/ BOR Collective Bargaining Agreement offers unit members a process to follow when they feel there may be a violation of the contract. It is important to realize that filing a grievance can open lines of communication. The first step of a grievance is to make every effort to resolve issues informally. Article 20 defines the grievance procedure. There are two items to keep in mind:
After filing a grievance and attempting to resolve it informally, the grievant and the UFF representative will meet with the Provost's representative for a formal hearing. Most (but not all) grievances are resolved at this point. The grievance process is not viewed as an assault on any supervisor or administrator, but as a way to point out discrepancies or unintentional violations of the contract. Many good administrators see the value of a document that helps keep everyone consistent with policies and procedures. And many administrators who later move to non-administrative faculty lines demonstrate their knowledge of the contract when they renew their UFF memberships!
Union membership offers members the chance to speak with knowledgeable professionals about benefits. For example, Stan Swart has planned a benefits workshop on January 22 and 23 to focus on long-term care (LTC) insurance and to discuss several options currently available. He will discuss plans offered by UNUM through UNF and by TIAA, as well as one endorsed by FEA and another endorsed by NEA.
State-Wide Salary Study: UFF Tracks SUS Faculty Salary Data.
UFF continues to track average salaries for SUS faculty. The study from May 2001 salary data indicates that UNF has, in recent years, made some progress in the four salary levels, with more progress yet needed. In this study, all in-unit salaries were converted to full-time academic years and then averaged. (Ellie Scheirer has more data; we would welcome further analysis.)
Our national affiliates, the National Education Association (NEA) and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) are funding a major membership campaign for higher education in Florida. We look forward to speaking with each of you during the spring and summer terms. In these times of ambiguity and stress in higher education, it is critical that all of us support UFF with our membership and our active participation in union activities.
Support UFF with your membership. The contract is your only form of protection on work-related issues. In addition, membership automatically includes substantial professional liability coverage, two free 30-minute legal consultations with a participating attorney each program year, and opportunities for additional savings on benefits packages. Join us!
You Can't Afford Not to Join the UFF!
Out the Membership Form and Send it to: Ellie Scheirer, Division of Curriculum
and Instruction, College of Education and Human Services, UNF, Building
009, Room 2507.
January 23, 2002