Florida Higher Ed is under attack

The new year has brought an unprecedented wave of attacks on Higher Ed from the resident in Tallahassee. From the governor’s attempt to whitewash history, to demonizing diversity, equity and inclusion, to the hostile takeover of New College of Florida, it seems as if a scorched earth campaign is being waged in Florida against higher education, academic freedom, and educators at all levels.

While United Faculty of Florida and Florida Education Association are organizing to combat these attacks, the governor’s exploits have not gone unnoticed by other advocates for faculty and higher education:

  • American Association of University Professors (AAUP) has launched an investigation into this “pattern of politically and racially motivated attacks on higher education in Florida.”
  • The Chronicle of Higher Education has been following every twist and turn of this saga. (HCC Libraries access to the Chronicle)
  • In fact, the Chronicle is “interested in the experiences of Florida faculty and staff members who have been affected by Gov. Ron DeSantis’ attention to diversity and critical race theory programs at the public colleges and universities. Or, if you haven’t seen any effects yet, but have some concerns about the future of your program, that’s helpful to know about, too.” If interested email: francie.diep@chronicle.com

Buckle up and stay tuned for more information and ways to join the fight.

Read this now! Updates from UFF & FEA

There is a lot going on in Higher Ed in Florida right now. Politicians are attacking our unions, academic freedom, intellectual freedom, tenure, DEI (diversity, equity, & inclusion), CRT (critical race theory), New College of Florida, all the while ignoring the real problems facing this state and its citizens and educators. Your unions are providing a bulwark against this unprovoked and unprecedented onslaught on public education and academic freedom.

United Faculty of Florida and Florida Education Association are staying on top of these issues and providing guidance to chapters and members. You should be receiving messages from our parent unions in your personal email (if you are not, please contact FUSA and let us know). There have been a lot of updates lately so we are compiling some of the recent important updates here in one place.

Get involved, get active, get motivated!

Recent FEA & UFF Responses

Our collective voice matters. It is powerful and it makes a difference. It isn’t always easy and it takes sustained effort but our solidarity produces results.

For a recent example, take UFF’s planned showing for public comment at the State Board of Governors meeting at FIU Jan 24-25 to protest changes to tenure. The planned public pressure campaign seems to have led the BOG to strike the tenure discussion from the agenda. To quote UFF President Andrew Gothard, “This is an incredible victory for our collective action campaign, and it shows that we have left our opposition reeling with the amount of public pressure we were able to exert in such a short window of time!”

Don’t hesitate to contact FUSA with any questions. You can also contact your campus reps or FUSA Leadership.

Happy New Year and new semester (and MOUs)

Another year and semester are here. FUSA looks forward to continued work for better pay and working conditions for faculty.

We hope to see you at Inservice on Jan. 5 at the Brandon Campus. Those in attendance will be able vote on ratifying two MOUs (memorandum of understanding) to our contract, respectively focusing on Post Tenure Review clarifications and our 2022-23 Step and increase in Overload. Details are in a message to your college email sent from FUSA President Sherry Sippel.

If you will not be at Inservice but would like to vote on the MOUs please send your request to Dave Flanigan, dflanigan@hccfl.edu no later than Thurs, January 5, 1:00 p.m.   

FUSA Flash — Impasse Update

Dear Colleagues,

On behalf of the FUSA bargaining team and Council, I am writing to give you an update regarding impasse. 

Our strategic, persistent, and well-executed approach to bargaining with the Administration has paid off.  Dr. Atwater has heard us and has agreed to start the salary study, pay the step for 2022-2023 retroactive to August 2022, and increase overload to $76/point effective in January 2023.  These items will be implemented while the impasse hearing is still pending.

It is important to note that his decision follows months of activism by FUSA leadership and concerned faculty members who gathered to address the Board of Trustees for the past three months.  In addition, on November 29, FUSA initiated the process for a new class action grievance against the College for failure to pay the 2022-2023 step.  On November 30, FUSA Council met with Dr. Atwater and told him, among other things, that faculty morale was continuing to decline, and many faculty were reassessing their voluntary contributions to the College above their contractual requirements.  The next day, the Administration contacted us to say, “Dr. Atwater heard you.”

The step and overload increases will be paid after being ratified by the faculty at the January 5, 2023 in-service and approved by the Board of Trustees.  A draft of the memorandum of understanding with the details will be sent to all faculty before the vote.

While this is an intermediate “win” for faculty, FUSA will continue to focus its efforts on getting the 2021-2022 step reinstated and getting the pay ranges and lab points addressed at the impasse hearing. 

I would like to express my appreciation to the members of the bargaining team and Council who collectively have spent thousands of hours to date working on negotiations and grievances.  In addition, I would like to thank the faculty.  Without your support, without our high percentage of members, FUSA wouldn’t have the leverage with Administration that we have now.

In Solidarity,

Sheryl Sippel
Faculty United Service Association (FUSA) President

Help Protect Tenure & Academic Freedom

The United Faculty of Florida (UFF) are asking you—our local, statewide, national, and international allies—to help defend tenure and academic freedom from attacks on the working, teaching, and learning conditions of Florida’s higher education community. Right now, the Florida Board of Governors is considering a regulation that will virtually eliminate tenure in the state’s university system. One of the ways you can support our fight is by signing this petition and sharing it widely among your family, friends, colleagues, and community allies. UFF will present this petition and the full list of signatures directly to the Board of Governors as part of our ongoing collective actions to stop this regulation in its tracks.

 Please sign the petition and stand in solidarity with us today!

Bargaining update

Read the FUSA President’s update on the recent Nov. 4 bargaining session:

Dear Colleagues,

On November 4, the FUSA bargaining team met with the Administration to hear their counter-proposal to economics.  

Recall that at the July 15, 2022 bargaining session:

  1. The Administration rejected all of FUSA’s previous proposals for Article 14.2, and offered only a step for 2022-2023 (with a permanent loss of the 2021-2022 step), no pay range increases, $0 increase to overload, and reopeners for 2023 and 2024.
  2. FUSA offered the attached counter proposal for Article 14.2.A/B that would return the lost 2021-2022 step and increase the pay ranges over a 3 year contract, which the Administration rejected. 

After FUSA filed for impasse, the Administration said they wanted to conduct a salary study before considering any pay range increases.   FUSA responded that they welcomed a salary study but the Administration would need to present another economics proposal.  

On Friday, the Administration presented their counter proposal.  It was the same offer they made previously of a single step increase and a salary study, with the only change being the addition of a $1 per point increase to overload.

It is apparent that Dr. Atwater does not intend to move from his June 2022 budget of only a 1-step increase to faculty and no pay range increases.  The FUSA bargaining team rejected the Administration’s offer and we remain at impasse.   The impasse hearing is set for January 11, 2023.

Again, FUSA did urge the Administration to begin the salary study while the impasse hearing is pending.  The Administration stated they would not move forward with the salary study unless FUSA dropped the impasse.   

Thanks to all the faculty who came Friday to show their support.  The FUSA bargaining team will keep everyone posted with any updates.

Sincerely,

Sheryl Sippel
Professor of Math
FUSA President

Bargaining is set for Friday Nov 4 at 9am!

FUSA will meet with Administration for contract negotiations on Friday, November 4, 2022, 9:00AM – 4:00PM. The session will take place in the Ybor City Learning Resource Center, YLRC, room 305.

Come out and show your support for FUSA as we negotiate on YOUR behalf for better pay and working conditions. All faculty are welcome! A good show of support speaks volumes and is a clear demonstration of our collective voice, a voice they can’t ignore.

Read the latest issue of the FUSA Informant newsletter!