FUSA Council meeting April 22, 9am

FUSA Council will hold the April monthly meeting, on Friday, April 22nd, via Zoom at 9:00 a.m.  Guests are invited to attend. Please refer to the FUSA President’s email (sent on 4/18) for the Zoom link.

In addition, please see the results of the 2022-2024 FUSA Elections. Congratulations to all who were elected. We also encourage all who are FUSA members to be involved with your union. Contact your campus Council reps for more information. And if you aren’t a member, we’d love to have you! Join FUSA now.

United Faculty of Florida Calls for Ignoring State-mandated “Ideological Viewpoint” Survey

UFF/FUSA members, please read the following statement from UFF President Andrew Gothard:

As you may have heard, your institutions will be distributing an ideological viewpoint survey on Monday April 4th, which requests that all faculty, staff, and students respond and share not only their own political viewpoints but what they perceive to be the viewpoints of their friends, colleagues, and classmates.

The United Faculty of Florida encourages all higher education faculty, staff, and students to ignore the voluntary “Viewpoint Discrimination” survey for the following reasons:

  1. Florida’s government has no right to know the thoughts, feelings, or political or religious beliefs of anyone, including the higher education community. Privacy is the bedrock of democracy and a safeguard against autocratic control.
  2. Ignoring this survey is an act that protects individuals of all political persuasions, now and into the future. This survey would not pass ‘validity tests’ in any institutional review process, as there is no way to ensure that responses will reflect the demographics of the institution. It is not worthy of time away from our teaching and research.
  1. The specificity of the survey’s demographic questions allows for targeting of faculty, particularly minority faculty, and can be used to attack tenure.
  1. Many of the survey’s questions are leading in nature and imply that there is a problem of viewpoint fairness on our campuses already–this is a conclusion searching for evidence, rather than the other way around.
  1. Many of the survey’s questions ask respondents to report on what they believe their colleagues and students think and how they are behaving on campus. Surveillance has no place in Florida’s higher education system.
  2. The survey will cause a chilling effect on freedom of speech and freedom of association on campus because faculty, staff, and students will be wondering whether their words and deeds will be reported to those in power.
  3. Governor DeSantis and other legislators have threatened to defund or otherwise punish campuses whose responses do not match the appropriate ideology. This is not a standard of leadership or behavior that any member of Florida’s higher education community should support.

For these reasons and more, UFF discourages participation in the survey, and we encourage you and all members of the Florida higher education system to join our fight to protect the freedoms of the faculty, staff, and students who make our campuses such wonderful places to live, learn, and grow.

UFF, your faculty union, has been fighting this law since it was first proposed. Now our fight is in federal court, and one of our main concerns has been that by its very nature this survey is an infringement upon the basic rights of all Floridians to freedom of speech, freedom of association, and the basic right to privacy, regardless of a person’s background or political persuasion and without intimidation from the political party currently in power.

Join us in this fight, and encourage your colleagues to join us as well! We are stronger together.

In Solidarity,

Andrew Gothard, Ph.D.
United Faculty of Florida

Quotes from UFF Leaders

At UFF, we fight for the rights of all Floridians, not merely those who agree with the political party in power. We believe that every American has the right to think, feel, and believe as they see fit. Living in Florida, under the influence of Governor DeSantis, does not abridge that right. This survey is an attack on the fundamental rights of all Floridians, and it has no place in a state or society that claims to be free. The protections of the US Constitution are too important to cast aside for political expediency. We urge all Floridians to join us in our fight against authoritarianism in all its forms: Boycott this survey. It has no place in our democracy.

UFF President Andrew Gothard

This viewpoint survey endangers our students’ freedom to critically think and express themselves; it also endangers the University’s long-term sustainability and makes it virtually impossible to be a college professor today.

UFF-FAMU Chapter President Roscoe Hightower

The state will frame any data collected from this survey, regardless of what it shows, as evidence that our profession indoctrinates students. I see no reason, then, for our faculty to willingly provide information for that purpose when the entire instrument was designed to hurt higher education in the first place. 

UFF-FGCU President Patrick Niner

This survey was designed by legislators keen to politicize and demagog for personal political gain.

UFF-UCF President Robert Cassanello  

As a third-generation US military veteran, I am disturbed at this latest example of creeping authoritarianism.

UFF-UF President Paul Ortiz

We don’t need or want a return to the dark days of McCarthyism and the Johns Committee in Florida. Academic freedom, freedom of speech, and exposure to diverse perspectives in the classroom are core values for our campus community. Faculty do not welcome the interference of an explicitly partisan survey that infringes on our privacy and civil liberties.

UFF-UNF President Nicholas de Villiers

FUSA Flash — Grievance update from the FUSA President

Dear Colleagues,

On behalf of the FUSA Council, I would like to update you on the status of the class action grievance FUSA has filed regarding your 2021‐2022 step increase. (Re: Email, 11/29/2021, FUSA Grievance – Article 14). 

The Administration’s response to the grievance now contains a new tactic in saying the filing of the grievance is “not timely,” implying FUSA is outside the allowed 45-day window to file.  Per the contract, the 45-day window starts from the date the union had, with reasonable diligence, knowledge of the facts leading to the grievance.  It is on this “start date” that FUSA and the Administration disagree.

The Administration has established the common practice of withholding raises and/or lump sums until after the term has started, waiting for enrollment numbers or other finances to be updated before making final budgeting decisions.  In the spirit of cooperation, FUSA has patiently and in good faith given the Administration time to make such decisions.  With that in mind, it is FUSA’s position that the window to file the grievance began in October 2021, when the final fall enrollment was in, and Dr. Atwater provided FUSA with a budget update that indicated the step increase would still not be funded. 

It is the Administration’s position that the window to file began in May 2021, when Cabinet first began discussing not paying the 2021-2022 step, which would imply we would have had to file the grievance for not being awarded the 2021 -2022 step before the academic contract year had even begun.  In addition, the Administration’s argument that the grievance was not timely was also unexpected since they had been following the steps of the grievance process up until that point.   

The Administration did not respond to FUSA’s argument that the grievance was timely, so we proceeded to Step 4, Written Appeal to the President.  The resulting meeting with HR and FUSA led to no resolution on the matter, with the Administration still stating the grievance is not timely and no funding is available to pay the step. 

We are now at Step 5, the final step of the grievance process, which is arbitration. We submitted our case to the UFF – Contract Enforcement Committee, which voted unanimously that our case has merit and, as such, UFF will assist and represent us in taking the case to arbitration.  The tentative arbitration date has been set for mid-June.  

We will continue to keep you informed during arbitration.  As always, we look forward to working with the Administration towards a satisfactory resolution.

Feel free to contact your campus representative should you have questions.

In solidarity,

Elizabeth R. Key-Raimer, EdS
Professor of Counseling
UFF-FUSA President

SAVE OUR UNION NOW: 1 Million Floridians are Under Attack

HB 1197: “Employee Organizations” – This bill will remove the right to organize, form, and keep unions for many workers in Florida by requiring membership percentage minimums (50%), removing payroll deductions for union dues, and allowing for unreasonable challenges to union membership lists. This bill attacks all public employees except for public employee unions that represent police, fire and correctional officers.

In the middle of an economic and health crisis, 1 million Floridians could lose their voice and legal rights on the job, rights Floridians have had since 1974, written into the Florida constitution. Wages, benefits, and protections for educators, nurses, line workers, electricians, bus drivers, city, county, and state employees are under attack.

Andrew Gothard, President of the United Faculty of Florida stated, “In a democracy, laws must be heard in the open, and the people should have a say in their government. This last-minute attempt to ram through policy that will harm over a million unionized Floridians is a stain on the Sunshine State. From bus drivers to bricklayers, nurses to teachers, these people have sacrificed time and again to make Florida what it is today, and they deserve to be rewarded by our legislators, not punished.”

We are calling on all Floridians to protect our economy, our democracy, and the communities we rely on every day. Call your Senator and tell them to VOTE NO on HB 1197!

Taking action is easy! But please do not delay!


Open the Flyer with QR Code

A bad bill just got worse — take action!

The legislature is trying to make a bad bill worse. Please read the message from UFF president Andrew Gothard below. It involves post-tenure review which was already instituted for FCS but is now aimed at universities. If this bill passes it is seen as another step toward elimination of tenure in Florida. Please take a moment to call your Senator today to ask them to Vote No on this amendment which is being heard today!

Dear UFF Members,

This is an URGENT ACTION ALERT. We need all UFF members to call your local senators NOW!

Yesterday afternoon, Senator Diaz filed an amendment to SB 7044, the higher ed accreditation bill, that will allow the Board of Governors to implement a statewide post-tenure review policy requiring all tenured faculty in the state university system to undergo a thorough post-tenure review process every five years. You can read the details of the amendment here.

Even if you are not a tenured university faculty member, this bill affects you, as it represents the next step in our legislature’s attempt to dismantle the Florida higher education system.

Take Action

The amendment and the bill will be heard in the Senate today [March 4]. Please call your local Senator right NOW and tell them to vote NO on the post-tenure review amendment (#958072) for SB 7044.

Find your legislator by using the UFF Legislative Toolkit. Phone numbers for all Senators can be found here.

Sample Script: “Protect Florida’s students and our future. Vote NO on the post-tenure review amendment (#881582) for SB 7044!”

Additional Talking Points

  1. Statewide post-tenure review is the first step toward eliminating tenure in Florida.
  2. Without a healthy and protected tenure culture, Florida’s higher education system will no longer be competitive with the rest of the country and the rest of the world, meaning highly qualified faculty and millions of dollars in research grants will no longer come to Florida. 
  3. Post-tenure review is a backdoor attempt to assert political control over classroom curriculum. It can be used to target faculty whose teaching and research does not align with the political orthodoxy in Tallahassee at any given moment. 
  4. Post-tenure review policies should be negotiated at the local level, with the input of faculty and responding to local teaching, research, and working conditions.
  5. University classrooms and research should be guided by facts, data, and the pursuit of scientific advancement and a more just and democratic society. Political influence and coercion will only harm Florida’s students, damage the hard-won international reputation of our colleges and universities, and reduce our ability to attract the best faculty from across the country to join our campuses.

The integrity of higher education in Florida hangs in the balance, so do not delay. Take action now!

In Solidarity,

Andrew Gothard, Ph.D.
United Faculty of Florida 

Two weeks to go for the Legislative Session

The 2022 Florida legislative session is drawing to a close with the fate of many consequential bills yet to be decided. Two such bills in play right would have significant impact on higher education and higher education institutions if the pass into law.

You can lend your voice to help stop two bills still threatening higher education. Here are some tools for you to contact your legislators and let your voice be heard.

First, if you don’t don’t know your legislators, use FEA’s Find your Legislator tool.

Action item 1: Email or call your House Representative about HB 703 – Pub. Rec. and Meetings/Postsecondary Education Executive Search

Action item 2: Email or call your House Representative & your State Senator (separately) about HB 7051 & SB 7044 – Postsecondary Education (Accreditation)