In addition to a variety of meetings with members, non-members and administrators, UFF-FAU members get together in informal social events. FAU is a large and bureaucratic university that sprawls across several campuses. If faculty members just do our jobs and go home, most of us will not meet other faculty outside our own departments. And if administrators are the only ones who know what is going on across the whole university, faculty become simply cogs in a big machine run by more and more distant managers, mere employees with no knowledge of the larger institutional picture.
Since faculty began organizing a union at FAU and other Florida universities and colleges more than forty years ago, the union has become one of the few places where faculty can get to know faculty from other departments, colleges and campuses (and universities). We exchange information and compare our own experiences with those of our colleagues in other disciplines and begin to understand our collective place in the university. From these informal social relations we gradually articulate a coherent and independent voice of the faculty. The process is hardly a perfect one, but social events have become a crucial part of the mission of the union. While getting to know one another, we also analyze the changing power dynamics of the whole university (a local application of what many of us do in our teaching and research) and develop a voice for the faculty as the heart of the institution.
Every year UFF-FAU has a holiday party, monthly happy hours, a fall luncheon for new faculty and a spring membership luncheon and meeting. We try to keep the expense of these social events to a minimum, and they constitute a relatively small proportion of our chapter’s yearly budget.
The union leadership encourages union members to develop meetings and social events within your own college, campus or affinity group. For example, union families can sponsor picnics or other events that include children. These events can include non-members and help to recruit new union members. Please contact the chapter president at firstname.lastname@example.org to inquire about developing a new event.