FUSA Council meeting Jan 28, 9am

FUSA Council will hold the first meeting of the semester, the January monthly meeting, on Friday, January 28, via Zoom at 9:00 a.m.  Guests are invited to attend.

Please refer to the FUSA President’s email (sent on 1/19) for the Zoom link.

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FEA / UFF 2022 Legislative Toolkit and Action Items for Week 2

The 2022 Legislative Session is underway up in Tallahassee. Florida Education Association (FEA) offers a toolbox with information and tools to help you advocate for education and your union.

FEA 2022 Legislative Toolbox

United Faculty Florida (UFF) is zeroed in on the bills that are harmful as well as helpful to higher education and have organized government relations committee members across chapters to engage with legislators on these issues and specific bills. In addition to email updates from FEA and UFF, FUSA will endeavor to keep you informed on the latest developments. You can do your part, too! The FEA 2022 Legislative Toolbox offers:

From UFF: Action items for Week 2

It is very important that you, UFF’s members, contact the committee members about these bills and ask them to vote NO on SB 520 and HB 703 before their committee hearings next week!

SB 520 will be heard by the Governmental Oversight and Accountability Committee on Wednesday, 1/19, at 8:30 am.

HB 703 will be heard by the Post-Secondary Education & Lifelong Learning Subcommittee on Tuesday, 1/18, at 2:00 pm.

The good news is that the process for contacting your legislator could not be easier:

  1. Follow the links above to see which legislators are on the Governmental Oversight and Post-Secondary Education committees.
  2. Click on a legislator’s name, then “Contact Member” to reach the legislator’s contact page.
  3. Fill out your information and write a message to the legislator asking them to vote NO on the appropriate bill.
    1. If you or members of your local chapter are constituents of the legislator, this action will be especially effective.
  4. As you write your message, remember to make the content personal to your experience by avoiding boilerplate or copy/paste language. We hear consistently from legislators that communications from constituents are most effective when they are personal and specific.
  5. Send your message and pat yourself on the back for a job well done!

You can use these linked talking points to craft your message; however, legislators have repeatedly told UFF that messages are most influential when they are personal and specific. Avoid boilerplate language, speak from the heart, refer to your personal experience and how this bill would affect you as a voter and citizen, and we will see the results we want.

Only by banding together can we make the change we wish to see in Florida. Contacting legislators about key issues regarding higher education is the first step toward enacting that change, so set aside a few minutes and take action today!

UFF supports Intellectual Freedom Bills

Advocacy efforts by United Faculty of Florida and local chapters are working! Through government relations initiatives such as Higher Education Regional Outreach (HERO) teams, members have been contacting legislators to advocate for higher education and faculty issues.

As noted in a recent email to members, UFF has been fighting the “assault taking place on academic freedom and faculty and student rights at Florida’s public institutions of higher education, including the new ‘viewpoint discrimination’ law (HB 233).

UFF also announced, “Rep. Yvonne Hinson and Sen. Tina Polsky filed HB 6077 and SB 810, known as the ‘Intellectual Freedom’ bills. The United Faculty of Florida unequivocally supports this effort to repeal HB 233, Florida’s “Viewpoint Discrimination” law, passed in the 2021 legislative session.”

UFF is asking members and the public to contact their local legislators and urge them to vote in support of these bills.


UFF Statewide Day of Action – Aug 16

Dear UFF Members,

Florida politicians who don’t believe in science are putting politics before public safety. Instead of keeping our most vulnerable communities safe and healthy, Florida’s Governor is trying to prohibit mask mandates and threatening to defund schools implementing protective measures in the classroom. At UFF we believe that the power of collective action is what makes us strong, so on August 16th, we encourage you to express your power by joining with your union siblings around the state to demand action from state leaders. If we adopt common sense measures like masking and encouraging vaccinations, we can and will bring joy back to our campuses.

Join our Higher Ed Day of Action on Monday, August 16th to urge our Governor to follow the CDC guidelines, help keep our campus communities safe this fall, and implement universal masking indoors.

1. CALL THE GOVERNOR (850) 717-9337 

“Hello, My name is  ___________. I am a Florida resident and I’m calling to urge Governor DeSantis to implement CDC recommendations, including masking indoors, at Florida’s College and University campuses. The health and safety of our students, faculty, and campus communities are vital to our states’ future.”

2. Attend UFF Power Hours Monday, Aug. 16th

Take action with UFF members across the state

10:00 – 11:00am: Register here: https://bit.ly/UFFPowerHour1

5:00 – 6:00 pm: Register here: https://bit.ly/UFFPowerHour2

In addition to taking collective action, we have released a statement to the press and sent a letter directly to Governor DeSantis, the Board of Governors, and the Board of Education on this subject. Don’t lose hope! Make your voices heard! By joining in this Day of Action, you, our members, can use your power to sway public policy and ensure that your friends, family, colleagues, and students remain safe as, together, we weather this next wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In Solidarity,

Andrew Gothard, UFF President
Caitlin Gille, UFF First Vice President

HB233 “Viewpoint Diversity” & recording bill updates

Helpful Links:

Preliminary Guidance for UFF Members

Dear UFF Members and Leaders,

As many of you are aware, HB 233, known as the “Viewpoint Diversity” bill, was signed into law by Governor DeSantis on June 22nd. Key provisions in this bill that affect higher education in Florida are—

  • It mandates annual intellectual freedom and viewpoint diversity surveys for higher ed faculty and students. We do not yet know how these surveys will be structured, nor is there any clear indication of how the survey data will be used.
  • It allows students to record classroom lectures without a requirement for prior notice and without the faculty member’s consent, with specific limitations on where and how those recordings can be used.
  • It provides “anti-shielding” measures that forbid institutions from restricting the kinds of views and statements that students can have access to or observe on higher education campuses.

Various legal avenues are being explored by FEA Legal and UFF Staff; as the surveys, rules, and policies are developed in response to these provisions, we will continue to monitor the legal implications. The mandated surveys (see #1 above) are currently under development by the State University and Florida College systems, and UFF’s officers are meeting with both governing bodies to share our concerns and hopefully influence the design of these surveys. More specific guidance will be shared on these fronts later in July. We will also be sharing guidance on how to respond in contract enforcement, collective bargaining, and campus organizing scenarios. That said, UFF recommends the following preliminary measures for our members who are teaching this summer:

  1. Classroom Instructors should consider recording all of their lectures on their own devices and should maintain their records for several semesters. Such recordings can be made as long as students are given proper notice, which can be accomplished by adding language to a course syllabus stating that the faculty member makes recordings of lectures. Having verifiable records could be helpful in defending against false accusations or sound bites taken out of context.
  2. Remember that “a recorded lecture may not be published without the consent of the lecturer,” and it may be employed only—
    a. “for a student’s own personal educational use”
    b. “in connection with a complaint to the public institution of higher education where the recording was made”
    c. “as evidence in, or in preparation for, a criminal or civil proceeding”
    Recorded lectures used for other purposes may allow the faculty member to seek “damages plus court costs and reasonable attorney fees, with the total recovery not to exceed $200,000.”
  3. You may not forbid or discourage students from recording your classes. Additionally, be sure to follow all campus policies regarding recording of classes. Remember that in most instances, it is better to comply now, then grieve later.
  4. During your lectures, remember that this law amends Florida’s interpretation of rights to free speech expressive activities protected under the First Amendment to include “faculty research, lectures, writings, and commentary, whether published or unpublished” and that “A Florida College System institution or state university may not shield students, faculty, or staff from expressive activities.” Defamatory speech is not a protected form of expressive activity.

The text of HB 233 is attached to this message, and we encourage all members to read it before entering the classroom this summer. Members who encounter any scenarios not covered in our above guidance should reach out to their local UFF chapter leadership with all questions and concerns.

We recognize that this bill has made many of us feel uncomfortable, but a number of its parameters remain uncertain and those that are already clear can be managed. As a union, we stand strongest when we stand together; rest assured that the members of UFF will not be left to weather this storm alone.

In Solidarity,

Andrew Gothard, UFF President
Caitlin Gille, UFF First Vice President

Congratulations are in order!!

Please join FUSA in congratulating the following faculty for earning tenure and rank promotion. It is a testament to their hard work and dedication to student success, HCC, and the community.

2020-2021 Tenured Faculty

Diana Dalziel, Dale Mabry               Joseph Luc, Ybor City 

Joan Desamour, Dale Mabry           Laura Mita, Brandon 

Shirley Dobbins, Brandon                Roxanna Palmer, SouthShore 

Karen Dufraine, Plant City               Lisa Simmons, Dale Mabry 

Odette Figueruelo, Dale Mabry      Ronald Smith, Brandon 

Rafael Fuentes, Dale Mabry            Sonia Steinhardt, Dale Mabry 

Diane Grey, Dale Mabry                  Angela Tartaglia, Dale Mabry 

Kenneth Hawkins, Dale Mabry       Todd Wells, Dale Mabry 

Tripat Kaur, Dale Mabry                   Jessica Wilson, Dale Mabry 

2020-2021 Rank and Promotion

Natalie Bisciglia, SouthShore          Mustapha Lahrach, SouthShore

Sarrah Conn, Ybor City                   Lawrence Linder, SouthShore

Christine Curtis, Dale Mabry           Suzanne Lynch, Dale Mabry

James Fatherree, Brandon              Johana Melendez, Plant City

David Flanigan, Brandon                Beth Smith, Brandon

Moheb Isaac, SouthShore              Cameron Spears, Dale Mabry

Craig Kasper, Brandon                    Andrea Vicente, Ybor City

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UFF Update: the End of the 2021 Legislative Session

A message from UFF President Dr. Karen Morian:

“Today was an extraordinary close to an extraordinary session. While UFF normally has 5-7 bills which pertain to us, this year there were over 30. They kept being cut and re-cut, and jumped from Committee to Committee, so it was a very challenging session.

THANK YOU  to our members who emailed and/or called your elected officials, or who shared our messages out on social media. Without your activism, and the activism of our union allies around the state (see attachment), things could’ve gone very badly for us. We narrowly avoided having our institutions’ Presidents hired in secret, and we were able to stop both the end of payroll dues deduction and the 50% membership decertification bills. And the Higher Ed budgets ended up being much better than expected.”

Read the FEA Frontline recap of the 2021 legislative session here.

This is a great example of what collective power can achieve!