Labor Organizations Denounce “Union-busting” Bill Demanding Workers Pay for Representation

from Public News Service

December 5, 2017

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – A bill opponents describe as “union-busting” legislation meant to target Florida’s public school teachers is back again after facing defeat in the Florida Legislature.

Bills such as House Bill 25, by Republican Rep. Scott Plakon of Longwood, are being introduced in legislatures across the country. While Plakon claims it will add greater transparency to labor unions, opponents say it’s part of a coordinated effort to undermine the voices of public workers.

Joanne McCall, president of the Florida Education Association, says the bill even further marginalizes women.

“I am the largest labor union in the state of Florida,” she says. “As a matter of fact, we are the largest labor union in the Southeast, and we represent 75 percent women. This bill is directed at us.”

Under the bill, any public-sector union – except those representing firefighters and law-enforcement or corrections officers – would be automatically decertified if more than 50 percent of the workers they represent don’t pay dues to the organization. Last year, the bill passed the full House but died in a Senate committee.

Retired teacher and Pinellas County School Board member Joanne Lentino says House Bill 25 is just another way for some lawmakers in Tallahassee to divide and conquer, not realizing their actions will impact families living paycheck to paycheck.

“They obviously don’t understand that you can’t create a law to make everybody join a union, and in the same regard, you can’t make a law for people to have less than 50 percent to decertify a union,” she explains. “So there is some oxymoron there, I think.”

Florida is a “right to work” state, and employment is not dependent on joining a union. Statewide, about 10 percent of state workers belong to an organized labor group. House Bill 25 is favored to gain strong support from the Republican-controlled Legislature as the bill already is fast tracked with just one committee stop before it gets voted on by the full House.

Why Higher Ed Needs to Get Rid of the Gender Gap for ‘Academic Housekeeping’

from Higher Ed Jobs

by Cassandra Guarino
Monday, November 27, 2017

With the academic year entering full swing, I find myself concerned about the quality of my female colleagues’ lives as they face a mountain of what is known as “service work” in addition to their teaching and research responsibilities.

As a professor of education and public policy, I’ve witnessed firsthand how women in academia do more of this institutional housekeeping, such as serving on job search committees or monitoring degree programs, than their male counterparts, mirroring the way many working women do more to take care of their families at home than their employed husbands.

Devoting too much time to these activities can influence a scholar’s career. Because tenure and raises tend to reflect factors like research and teaching more than service, a gender discrepancy can mean that female professors could earn less and receive fewer promotions overall.

That is why I wanted to research the extent to which this tendency pervades college campuses.

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Annual UFF-FAU Holiday Dinner Party

UFF-FAU, your friendly faculty union, invites you to our annual holiday dinner party on December 8, 7:00 PM at Villagios, 344 E. Park Plaza Real, Boca Raton: http://www.villagiorestaurants.com/location-boca-raton.php

Meet new people. Drink libations. Enjoy a full meal. Celebrate the end of the semester.

Meredith Mountford, your union president, will provide a special update regarding collective bargaining in the spring as well as wants to hear your feedback.

Seats fill up quickly, so please RSVP by Monday, Dec. 3rd 2017 by clicking:

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1N8ROH8fgDS5nWwkS6A4KY8c5ApiuVa0ohqDcq4NUcG0/viewform?edit_requested=true

This event is only for UFF-FAU members.

Meredith Mountford
President, UFF-FAU…

Adjunct profs push for respect

Tampa Bay Times

November 19, 2017

BY CLAIRE MCNEILL

Their jobs are sometimes low-paying, fleeting and draining. At USF, they want to unionize.

Times Staff Writer

TAMPA – Robert Ryan cleaned out his office in May. He knew he was dying.

He had kept driving to the University of South Florida even as he lost the use of his left arm. He had kept teaching English, even as tumors ravaged his mouth so that he could hardly speak.

He was a military kid, after all, accustomed to duty. But he was also an adjunct professor, making a meager living by patchworking parttime classes, and he needed the money.

He left a note in the windowless concrete block room he shared with two other adjuncts: ‘Both bookshelves are yours.’ As he walked to the parking lot with his best friend, Ryan had to lean on some- thing every few steps, tears rolling down his face.

Since his death in June at age 62, Robert Ryan has become something like a martyr to a group of USF adjuncts battling the administration for the chance to unionize.

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American Federation of Teachers Support Relief in Puerto Rico

I just returned from several days in Puerto Rico, where I saw firsthand the devastation and the tremendous need there. On most of the island, it looks like the storm happened just days ago. 

When I met with San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz and asked what we could do, she requested help getting safe water to more people.

So, today, we launch Operation Agua, a new initiative of the AFT and our partners—including our local affiliate, the Asociación de Maestros de Puerto Rico; Operation Blessing; the Hispanic Federation; and AFSCME—to bring water filters and purification systems to Puerto Rican families, classrooms and communities who need help.

When you contribute just $30, you give an in-home filter that purifies 10 gallons of water per day to a family in need. These units require no electricity, and a single filter can clean 5,000 liters of water.

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Protect the University of Wisconsin

From the American Association of University Professors

A series of recent actions taken by Governor Scott Walker, the Wisconsin state legislature, and the University of Wisconsin system board of regents represents a concerted attack on the university as a public good and on the university’s role in fostering democratic participation. The stewards of the university system appear determined to destroy it.

We the undersigned call on the Wisconsin system board of regents to cease its attacks on the institutions it stewards; to recognize tenure, faculty governance, due process, and academic freedom as foundational to higher education; to support and encourage free speech for faculty and students; and to govern the system’s institutions for the common good of the people of Wisconsin.

Click link to sign: https://actionnetwork.org/forms/protect-the-university-of-wisconsin-system-from-attack?source=direct_link&

(To read a statement by the AAUP and the Wisconsin AFT, click here.)

Professors Are the New Therapists

From Slate, October 5, 2017

By Lindsay Bernhagen

Jason was an untenured professor at a large public university when two students who had been dating each other began fighting regularly in his class. When he sought advice from university administrators about what to do, they merely passed him around the bureaucracy until, one day, he found himself assisting police, phoning one of the students and pleading with him to come to campus to surrender himself to the authorities after a violent fight with his girlfriend. Jason, who, like most untenured faculty today, prefers not to use his last name when critiquing university administrators, recalled the emotional toll the incident took on him: “I was upset for days. I had no idea what to do.”

Approximately 3 out of 4 workers who teach college students are contingent, also known as adjunct professors, meaning that they do not get the same benefits or protections as their tenure-track colleagues. Contingent instructors teach more courses with higher enrollments than those on the tenure track, and many make ends meet by teaching at multiple institutions, turning them into what one adjunct acquaintance called “self-contained mobile teaching units” who grade papers in their cars or meet with students wherever they can find open space on campus. Increasingly, these same overworked faculty are being asked to comfort and support students in ways that go far beyond the classroom.

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Statement from UFF-UF Chapter President, Steve Kim

Dear colleagues,

Please join me in thanking President Fuchs for deciding today to deny Richard Spencer’s request to speak on campus.  Spencer is a white supremacist who was involved in the violent demonstrations last weekend in Charlottesville, VA. I know that many of you contacted us, and the president, to express your concerns about the potential for such an event to lead to violence in Gainesville.  UFF-UF and the UF Chapter of Graduate Assistants United strongly urged the president to cancel the event.  The text of our letter to President Fuchs can be found here.

We recognize that the president was forced to weigh important considerations of free speech with concerns for the safety of the university community.  UFF is committed to protecting both. Our Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) contains very strong language protecting academic freedom. It also enjoins the university to protect faculty against discrimination and to ensure at all times a safe working environment.  We commend the president for upholding our CBA and protecting our campus from this incitement to violence.

Sincerely,
Steve Kirn, Chapter President