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!

UFF Legislative update & Action items

Pardon duplication from email but we are in the last week and we need to keep the pressure on our legislators! Read the UFF update from this weekend & join UFF on social media for updates.
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What Can We Do Right Now?

  1. Help Stop SB 220: Sunshine Law Exemption for University/College Presidential Searches

Contact your Senator ASAP. Ask a friends and colleagues to do so as well.

This bill would exempt the hiring process for new college and university presidents from Florida Sunshine Laws. These transparent processes allow for public and stakeholder overview of our public institutions; this change would be catastrophic for the independence of our 40 public institutions of higher education in Florida, and the vote count is close. This has passed the House, and may be up for a vote in the Senate as early as Tuesday. To learn more, read the Florida AFL-CIO’s talking points on the companion bill from the House.

  1. Continue to contact Legislators on SB 1014/HB 835

Call both your local Legislators on these bills. Our collective bargaining rights and basic freedoms are at stake.

  • CALL legislative offices, SEND emails, WRITE letters to the editor or Editorials, keeping in line with our strategic talking points for this legislative session. You can review our talking points and positions in our Legislative Toolkit: http://bit.ly/UFFLegislativeToolkit
  • Take to social media! RECORD a video of yourself and tag Senators and Reps, or TWEET at them to let them know how strongly you want them to vote NO on these bills! Please see the attached handout that was shared with testifiers this week, which includes the Twitter handles of all the Senators on the Rules Committee, some sample Twitter Scripts, and  additional info you may find useful as you continue to activate and spread the message – we do NOT want these bills to pass!
  1. Join FEA’s Daily Action Hour:

Every day FEA will be hosting an Action Hour from 5 PM to 6 PM EDT and from 11 AM to 12 PM EDT on Saturday and Sunday.  During the Action Hour, people who join on the Zoom meeting are asked to contact certain legislators on the issue of the day.  Not all of these are Higher Ed related, but we want to act in solidarity with our K-12 colleagues, just as they do for us. Here is the Zoom Link for this statewide meeting: https://feaweb.org/dailyaction

Higher Education Budget:

  • Less details are available on this budget, but we do know the worst of the cuts were avoided.  Lawmakers originally planned cuts upwards of a half a billion dollars and that did not happen in the end.
  • Lawmakers did cut the Bright Futures textbook grants, meaning students who receive the Bright Future Scholarships will now have to foot the bill for all their textbooks.

Once the final numbers and accompanying language are released, we [FEA/UFF] will provide more details.

Stay informed: Sign up for the FUSA Informant

Urgent action needed! Fight for your Union!!

Dear colleagues,

We are approaching the final moments we have to try to defeat HB 835 and SB 1014, the bills that would deal the roughest blow to our union and to our labor brothers and sisters across the state. Earlier this week, HB835 passed its final committee, despite having a packed room and a very robust public comment where our members and other labor allies turned up to speak in opposition to the bill.

NOW IS THE TIME: IT WILL TAKE ALL OF US TO STOP THIS!

On Tuesday, 4/20, the Senate Rules Committee will hear the anti-freedom, anti-union bill SB 1014, in its final committee stop, and it has already been put on the special order calendar for 4/21 “if received” – this means they are anticipating passing the bill Tuesday and bringing it for a floor vote ASAP. Your Presence is needed NOW, more than ever!!

Here’s how you can get involved:

COME TO TALLAHASSEE

If you can bring your work with you and camp out in the legislature with us, we can get you a hotel room for Monday and Tuesday evening (4/19-4/20) and cover your mileage and expenses. You may not get to testify, but we NEED to pack the room and ensure our legislators know that educators and public employees across the state stand against this bill! If you are able to travel to Tallahassee Mon-Wed, please fill out this form so we can organize your hotel: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/FX9JJ5M

CALL THIS TARGETED LIST OF LEGISLATORS

This is the primary list of legislative targets to contact to voice our opposition to this bill and urge them to vote NO – please call, email, and try to set up a meeting with them – they need to keep a record of every contact received, so it is time to ensure our voices are heard loud and clear:

Albritton- SD 26850-487-5026 
Bean- SD 4850-487-5004 
Bradley – SD 5850-487-5005 
Brandes- SD 24850-487-5024 
Brodeur- SD 9850-487-5009 
Burgess – SD20850-487-5020 
Gainer- SD 2850-487-5002 
Garcia -SD 37850-487-5037 
Grueters -SD 23850-487-5023 
Hooper- SD 16850-487-5016 
Hutson- SD 7850-487-5007 
Mayfield- SD 17850-487-5017 
Passidomo -SD 28850-487-5028 
Rodriguez- SD 39850-487-5039 

More ways to take action!

1.       Submit a testimony – http://bit.ly/UFFMediaRelease

2.       Call your legislator – http://bit.ly/UFFLegislativeToolkit

3.       Share our flyer on social media (don’t forget to add links to your post!)

We need Tallahassee to hear our voices. The time to organize is now. The time to speak is now. Don’t delay any longer. Stand together and speak your truth today!

Additional Legislative Update Regarding two more bills important to UFF:

SB 220 – re: President Searches was not heard in Senate Rules. About a dozen UFF members waited for five hours to speak on it and against SB 1014, Sen. Baxley’s anti-freedom/anti-union bill, along with about 100 other union members, but it the clock ran out. It is on the agenda for Tuesday, so tune in at 9:00.

HB 7017 — the bill related to foreign influence naming “countries of concern” was heard at second reading today, April 13. The bill requires the Board of Governors and State Board of Education to provide guidelines for research and hiring of foreign-born researchers and restricts activity with any “countries of concern”. An amendment related to whistleblower rights was added and the bill was rolled onward to third reading and possible final passage.

HB 997-  by Rep. Garrison (R-Orange Park) is the bill exempting executive searches for college and university presidents from public records and public meetings until finalists are selected. The bill was heard on Second reading. Good Questions came from Democrat Representatives Guillermo-Smith, Diamond, Geller, Thompson, Hardy, and Eskamani. There was an amendment by Garrison which aligned it with the Senate bill (SB 220) and set a deadline when secrecy ends but does not even define how many finalists are allowed. Unfortunately, Representative Alexander (D-Tallahassee) supported the amendment and announced support for the Bill when it came to Third Reading, on April 14. Thanks to Reps. Geller and Guillermo-Smith for their debate against the bill.

Special thanks to UFF-FAU leaders for putting together this Op Ed!

In Solidarity,Karen Morian, UFF President
Jaffar Ali S Hameed. PhD, UFF First Vice President
Candi Churchill, UFF Executive Director

Urgent Action needed on HB 835 & SB 84

Action item #1
We have less than 24 hours to take action. HB 835 will be heard in the House State Administration and Technology Appropriations Subcommittee on Thursday at 12:30 p.m. EDT. We must join together and stand up to those who would try to divide us. Tell members of the State Administration and Technology Appropriations Subcommittee to reject big government overreach and to vote no on HB 835.

Action item #2
Whether you are in your first year of teaching, in DROP, or somewhere in between, your long-term future depends on a healthy Florida Retirement System. Senate Bill 84 would close the pension system to new education hires as of July 1, 2022, effectively destabilizing and threatening the health of the system. This isn’t a new concept. Lawmakers have been chipping away at your retirement for years. This bill could be heard as soon as Wednesday, so make sure you send your message as soon as possible. Don’t let lawmakers take away your hard-earned retirement. Tell them to VOTE NO on SB 84!

Please make your voices heard and pass this on to your colleagues and friends.

UFF call to action: legislative session week of 3/22

Help fight for your rights as educators by contacting your state senator and representative regarding the latest bills being pushed through the Florida Legislature. These harmful bills contain numerous provisions that take away educators’ freedom.

Urgent action is needed on the companion bills SB 1014 / HB 835 and the UFF Legislative Toolkit makes it easy to learn more and take action (included are bill overviews, talking points, letter templates and more).

UFF Legislative Toolkit:
https://feaweb.org/issues-action/2021-legislative-session/uff-legislative-toolkit/

Learn more about SB 1014 / HB 835:
https://feaweb.org/news/bills/senate-bill-1014

Please take action and pass this info on to others!

Call to action – Please take note of these legislative updates!

This year is a very busy year for anti-union bills in the FL Legislature. Next year is an election year so they are cramming a lot in this year. Some of them are “zombie” bills that show up each legislative session. Some are outright blatant in their attempt to undermine union power, collective bargaining, and the pension system in the state. We need all members to get involved. 

Note: our parent union, United Faculty of Florida (UFF), is an issue-based, not party-affiliated union. They will work with both sides of the aisle to protect education interests and union interests in FL. Likewise, our legislators need to hear from union members regardless of their party affiliation (or no affiliation).

UFF has provided a 5 page PDF on the various anti-union legislation going through committees and coming to the floor. It is looking very bad for a number of them. Please review the PDF for details:

Here is a step-by-step PDF on how you can get involved by tracking bills and contacting your legislators:

More helpful information from UFF