It’s Spring Break, but legislators are still in session

We hope you are enjoying your well-deserved break from the demands of classes and college business. Unfortunately, everything else keeps on rolling, including this unprecedented legislative session replete with attacks on higher education, K-12, and public sector unions. There are some dangerous bills moving through committees in Tallahassee that call for urgent action from members. This post will share some tools that will allow you to make your voices heard.

SB 256 — Urgent action needed

SB 256, the bill attacking our constitutional right to be union members is fast-tracked and is set to be heard in its last committee stop in the Fiscal Policy Committee at 8:30 a.m. Thursday, March 16. FEA has created an easy way to make contact legislators with the link below. 

HB 999 — a direct attack on academic freedom and Free speech

According to a recent WFSU Capital Report episode, the American Historical Association strongly condemns this bill. AHA Executive Director, James Grossman says “…it would prevent prevent professors from teaching American History with professional integrity.”

  • Read the American Historical Association statement, cosigned by 72 other organizations
  • The statement expresses “horror . . . at the assumptions that lie at the heart of this bill and its blatant and frontal attack on principles of academic freedom and shared governance central to higher education in the United States.”

Representative Anna V. Eskamani (FL House District 42), a staunch ally of FEA, UFF, and Higher Education, has released a number of helpful resources in the fight against this extreme bill, including a link to contact Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee members.

Vote of Confidence results, HB 999 action item

Confidence Vote

The results of the faculty Vote of Confidence in Dr. Atwater, HCC’s President, are in.  The tally is:

I have CONFIDENCE in Dr. Atwater as HCC President:  10 (5%)

I have NO CONFIDENCE in Dr. Atwater as HCC President:  209 (95%)

From FUSA President, Sherry Sippel: “On behalf of the FUSA Council, I would like to thank everyone who participated in the vote and made their voice heard.  It was a great turnout! Our next step will be to notify the Board of Trustees with the rationale for the vote and the results.  We will keep everyone posted of our next actions.”

Take action on HB 999!

If you haven’t seen a message from UFF President Andrew Gothard in your personal email, there is a call to action regarding HB 999, an ominous attack on Higher Education in Florida. More information can be found in the email but some action items are included here:

We need you to take action to stop this bill! As higher education professionals, we are the experts on how this bill will harm Florida’s students, economy, and communities. The legislature needs to hear from us immediately!

Here are 2 quick steps you can take right now to make sure that our voices are heard in the legislature:

  1. Email the House Committee members using this convenient contact tool:
  2. Let your local legislator know how you feel about this bill:

Here is a Tampa Bay Times article discussing an earlier version of the bill: Florida Bill would end diversity programs, ban majors and shift power at universities

FUSA updates: Impasse hearing, confidence vote, statewide call to action, and e-dues

Faculty should have received separate FUSA Flash emails from FUSA President Sherry Sipple concerning, respectively, the Impasse Hearing held March 2 and an announcement regarding the upcoming confidence vote.


Briefly, the Impasse Hearing was held March 2nd. We appreciate all the faculty who came out to hear FUSA witnesses and our UFF advocate argue our case for a long overdue for raises to the step pay system and lab point equity. What our President failed to mention in her update was that she, too, testified expertly on your behalf. While we don’t have a specific timeline for the magistrate’s decision, we are hopeful it will come in by the end of Spring term, May 8.

Confidence Vote

The FUSA President followed up with an additional announcement regarding the confidence vote planned for March 8-10, using, as we have so before, the secure electronic voting platform, Helios. As discussed in the FUSA Town Hall meeting last week, we didn’t come to this decision lightly, rather only after protracted bargaining and faculty sentiments at the Town Hall, FUSA Council meetings, and Board of Trustees meetings revealed an overwhelming dissatisfaction with Dr. Atwater’s leadership. More information will follow by email and on this website.

More updates

Take action – the 3-7 CHallenge

March 7 is the start of Florida’s 2023 legislative session, and some elected officials have promised to pass legislation that will limit the fundamental freedoms of Florida’s students, teachers, education staff professionals, and higher education faculty.

In response, we are asking all Florida Education Association (FEA) and United Faculty of Florida (UFF) members to participate in a statewide public education day of action that we are calling the 3-7 Challenge to show support for educators and the future of education in our state. Take Action and Participate in the 3-7 Challenge:

  • Make 3 phone calls and 7 emails to Florida’s elected officials
  • 3-7 Challenge page includes details, prompts, and contact info

Another topic discussed at the Town Hall meeting concerned the E-dues campaign prompted by legislation filed in the Florida Senate (SB 256). Simply put this is a union-busting bill and a blatant attack on educators and your right to organize and speak collectively. We need to be ready to act should this legislation become law. For more information, download the flyer below or visit our E-dues Campaign information page.

FUSA Town Hall meeting

FUSA is holding for a virtual Town Hall meeting Wed. March 1, at 3pm. We have urgent updates that have implications for all faculty, FUSA members and non-members alike.

It is vitally important we have wide attendance at the town hall meeting. Please make arrangements to attend the virtual meeting and look for the email invite with meeting link sent by the FUSA President.

town hall meeting chat bubble announcement

What we’ll cover:

  • Impasse & Grievance Update
  • Confidence Vote
  • Legislative updates
  • E-dues program

More updates

FUSA Bargaining update and UFF news

We had another great faculty turnout for our bargaining session with Administration on Monday, February 13. Thank you to all who were able to find time in their busy schedule to make it out in support of FUSA and the bargaining team. For those who were unable to make to the session on a Monday at 1pm (when many faculty are teaching classes), we understand and we appreciate all the well wishes for FUSA going in to bargaining.

Recall that Dr. Atwater reached out with a desire to resume bargaining in the hope of avoiding impasse. FUSA took this as a good faith gesture toward a resolution and accepted, with the caveat that the College needed to bring an economics proposal in order to avoid going to impasse. This is what they pulled out of their bag:

The HCC Nothing Burger

They had no new economics proposal. After the College served up this nothing burger topped with a big squirt of bad faith bargaining–which we paid for with our time–FUSA said “See you at impasse.” See the official FUSA response to membership emailed by FUSA President, Sherry Sippel, and stay tuned for updates and next steps!

UFF news

Your UFF Senators are preparing for the Statewide Senate meeting this coming weekend Feb 18-19. This is where Senators from all state chapters convene to do the business of United Faculty of Florida which includes passing the budget, resolutions, committee assignments, and reporting from the bargaining councils, and committee work, among other things. There are also meetings most evenings this week leading up to Senate which focus respectively on bargaining, contract enforcement, organizing, government relations, membership, leadership, equity, diversity, & inclusion. These meetings are not restricted to senators but are OPEN TO ALL MEMBERS. Check your personal email for messages concerning “UFF 2023 Senate Super Week” for details.

To close, we all know it has been a dizzying, trying start to the year with all of the political attacks on higher education in Florida. I’d like to leave you with two examples of how UFF, and in particular president Andrew Gothard, have been out front, pushing back, and fighting for all faculty in Florida.

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:

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, 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