Post-Protest Wrap Up

May 14, 2012. The faculty protest in late April was a last resort after the non-responsiveness of FAU administrators. What did we achieve?

First of all, I would thank all faculty and staff who participated in the summer teaching protest held on April 18. As you all know, the protest just didn’t concern itself with summer teaching, but more importantly the way in which faculty have been systematically excluded from most decision-making processes recently implemented by the upper administration. Only after the fact is faculty input solicited. We are hoping as a result of such negative publicity that the administration will start implementing policies where faculty have been an integral part from the inception. I will be meeting with the provost later this month to discuss this problem and see how we can move forward regarding this.

The union doesn’t take protesting lightly. We have attempted to use other more formal channels– consultation, meeting with the upper administration through more informal settings, asking questions during faculty assemblies and the senate, but felt that our concerns were not being taken seriously. As a result, we felt that we had no option other than focusing the public eye on the ways in which faculty, students, and staff feel how that the university has been mismanaged.  In this effort we were successful.  In addition to attracting at least seventy faculty, staff and students to our protest rally on the 18th, and helping students publicize their own earlier protest rally, we received good publicity in a variety of media.   See the links to local media in previous posts on the protests here at

The results were  productive:

1)      We finally received a belated memo from the administration on April  10 regarding the rationale for the implementation of summer policy.

2)      Administrators started to reinstitute courses more promptly.

3)      The administration publicly acknowledged that the implementation of the summer policy was misguided.

4)      After repeated calls by the union since Fall 2011 for a Town Hall Budget meeting, the upper administration finally held one. The result  was far from satisfactory. Although we would much rather have had the President and the Provost directly fielding questions, the meeting at  least provided a public forum where faculty could directly address some of their concerns and judge for themselves the adequacy of the responses.

But of course the proof is in the proverbial pudding. We’ll see how future administrative policies are made and implemented and if faculty governance and knowledge is respected. We understand that FAU has been placed in a difficult economic situation because of the hostility by many in the state legislature in regards toward public education.

This damage has been compounded by misguided policies on the local level that seem distinctly out of touch with faculty concerns and expertise and thus destructive of some core goals of the university, its discipline-specific teaching and research programs. But for now we look to the future by attempting to establish a more  functional and balanced relationship with the upper administration. As you know, the union provides a forum for the only independent collective voice of the faculty. But only faculty can make this voice be adequately heard not only by joining the union, but also by becoming more involved in it.

The union repeatedly and rigorously addresses issues that many faculty members articulate to one another but might be uncomfortable pronouncing on their own to the administration.  But the union gives you an independent, collective  voice across department, college and campus boundaries. Your involvement makes us a more effective, democratic, well-informed, and vigorous university. Please download a membership form by clicking here today. Send to Chris Robe’, FAU, CU 215, Boca Raton, FL 33431.

Have a good summer!


FAU Faculty and Students Rally Against Slashed Summer Course Schedule

April 11, 2012. Chorus grows stronger over MJ Saunders’ high-handed style and forced austerity

Responding to deep cuts in the summer course schedule at Florida Atlantic University, faculty and students are planning protests against what they call unfair and arbitrary reductions which will hurt students, faculty, and academic programs.

In response they are planning protest rallies on the west steps of the administration building on the Boca Raton campus.  The first, organized by students, will be held at 2 p.m. on Thursday, April 12.

The second, organized by the UFF-FAU and supported by students, will be held on Wednesday, April 18 at 12 noon.  In addition, everyone is invited to make protest signs in the lobby of the Culture and Society Building at 5 on Monday, April 16.

Administrators have cut almost a thousand courses from 2011, about a third of the total.

FAU was hit by the Florida Legislature last month with an unprecedented $30 million in budget cuts for the coming year.  In all, the eleven public universities have lost $730 million in state funding since 2008, and will lose another $300 million this year, half from appropriations and half from their own reserves.

This last legislative move prompted Moody’s Investors Service to take the unusual step of publicly criticizing the Legislature for damaging the universities’ credit.  Meanwhile, the Legislature and Governor gave corporations another $80 million in tax breaks in addition to the billions they’ve received in recent years, while cutting hospitals and nursing homes in addition to universities.  State colleges have endured similar cutbacks.

“It’s bad enough that the Legislature and Governor are undermining our state’s future by slashing higher education.  But the university is compounding the problem by using a top-down, one-size-fits-all approach to summer cuts,” said Chris Robe, president of the faculty union, the United Faculty of Florida – FAU.

Robe points out that cuts have been imposed unilaterally from the provost’s office with virtually no regard for students’ needs or faculty advice in particular programs.  The cuts are also insensitive to the needs of FAU students, many of whom are non-traditional students who have jobs and families, and cannot afford to delay graduation for a semester or a year because a required course is not offered in the summer, and who are thus more likely to drop out.

In her message to students and parents on the front page of FAU’s web site, President Mary Jane Saunders says that “the most important thing you need to know is that nothing has changed for you at FAU.  Students are still our first priority, and we remain committed to helping you progress steadily toward your degree.  As in the past, we will continue to offer all courses needed for graduation.”

However, a March 21 memorandum from Provost Brenda Claiborne instructs deans and chairs to cut all courses from the summer 2012 schedule which during summer 2011 did not enroll at least 24 students in undergraduate courses or 11 students in graduate courses.  While the provost leaves room open for exceptions, some programs have been hurt very badly, others not at all.

According to faculty and students in various departments, this edict ignores the need for small classes in lab and studio courses with prerequisites, many of which have simply been cancelled because they did not enroll 24 students last summer.  While some programs have accreditation requirements which protect their course sequences from arbitrary disruptions, some of these programs were cut anyway, while others were not.

Students in Education, Business, Science, the Visual Arts and elsewhere have had their progress toward graduation interrupted and their lives put on hold.  In other departments, students and faculty have had their class sizes arbitrarily increased, with little regard for academic quality, to accommodate the smaller course offerings, and the problems promise to compound themselves in the fall and spring terms because of delays to student graduation.

In a follow-up memorandum dated April 10, the provost appears finally to begin to listen to faculty and students and add some courses, but much unnecessary damage has already been done.  Many students have already opted to enroll elsewhere this summer, and faculty summer plans have been disrupted.  Faculty and student leaders remain determined to keep the pressure on until their voices are heard.

Monique Paramore, a graduate student in Education who is organizing the protest to be held April 12, also created a petition to FAU administrators at  In addition to attracting over 700 signers so far, the petition contains comments from students in numerous programs describing the negative consequences of cancelled courses.  Ms. Paramore describes her protest in these terms:  “I and several other students are concerned with the university’s decision to cut certain courses necessary to our graduation.  On Tuesday the 27th, I created a petition concerning this matter. I currently have 723 signatures and comments. I/we understand the need for certain cuts but I feel that when this decision was made the university failed to take into consideration the differences among departments, the different class schedules, and the specific needs of each program.

I received my undergraduate degree from FAU and have continued to be a dedicated Owl. I am hurt and upset at the way the university has handled this matter. I created this petition to bring attention and awareness to this situation. Even after the petition gained several hundred signatures, the administration refused to answer our questions, listen to our suggestions or simply apologize. So I decided to continue my protest by leading my fellow students in a rally against the course cuts. All I/we want is the opportunity to get some questions answered and to figure out our options as it pertains to future class offerings and graduation. We simply want the chance to suggest other options and to have our voices as well as those of our department leaders heard!”

FAU Chief Financial Officer Dismissive of Call for Accountability

December 26, 2010. Says Payroll “not required” to promptly address mistakes made in faculty salaries

RE: Letter attached
Thursday, December 23, 2010 2:56 PM
From: “Dennis Crudele”
To: “James Tracy”
Cc: “Diane Alperin”

Mr. Tracy,

Thank you very much for the concerns your expressed regarding the payroll calculation error for retroactive pay increases for some faculty. It was extremely important to promptly address this error and to notify those affected employees of the problem and corrective actions being taken before paychecks were received. While not required to do so, the Payroll Office took extraordinary steps to correct the situation that occurred within one payroll period, keeping us within this tax year. [Our emphasis.]

I agree that communication is a key element in the success of any organization. The University did in fact take quick action to correct this payroll error and did notify those affected employees. I appreciate your request that more detail be provided to faculty if similar situations arise in the future.

Dennis Crudele

Dennis Crudele
Sr. Vice President for Financial Affairs
Florida Atlantic University
777 Glades Road
ADM 345 Boca Raton, FL 33431
561.297.2772 (FAX)

From: James Tracy
Sent: Wednesday, December 22, 2010 10:25 AM
To: Dennis Crudele
Cc: Diane Alperin
Subject: Letter attached

Dear Mr. Crudele,

I am also sending the attached via US post. However, I wanted to make sure that this reaches you before the week-long holiday break.


James Tracy
President, United Faculty of Florida, Florida Atlantic University
PO Box 812211
Boca Raton, FL 33481

See related post:

Hey dude, where’s my retroactive raise money?

Red Sky in Morning …

December 6, 2010. The fall semester has been positive for FAU in many ways, but stormy weather lies ahead

This week we conclude a very noteworthy semester that has seen the installation of Florida Atlantic University’s new president, Dr. Mary Jane Saunders, the beginning of a search for a new provost, ratification of the 2009-2012 Collective Bargaining Agreement between the University’ Faculty and Trustees, and the renewal of UFF’s Consultation with the President.

Close to 300 Bargaining Unit members cast ballots for ratification, with 97% voting in favor of the new CBA. The Board of Trustees vote was unanimous. And, in mid-November, President Saunders and Interim Provost Diane Alperin met with UFF representatives to discuss several issues of mutual interest proposed for consideration by UFF’s Executive Committee. Matters that both sides saw eye-to-eye on included having at least one faculty-administrator on the BOT’s Bargaining Team that genuinely understands faculty life, as well as establishing a task force to look at ways in which the status of FAU’s instructors might be addressed.

The Consultation with the President, provided for in Article 2 of the CBA, allows for one visit per semester. However, the practice was stopped abruptly several years ago during Frank Brogan’s administration, and the controversy that ensued during and after Mr. Brogan’s departure made it difficult to renew regular meetings. With this in mind, UFF-FAU sees the November meeting as an important step in renewing and strengthening relations between the University’s Faculty and Administration.

FAU faculty will likely need administrative leadership that recognizes the significance of professional autonomy and academic freedom, particularly over the next few years. Faculty members must also be more engaged than in the past, and their voices must be heard regarding FAU’s imminent plans for reorganization, now well underway. In contrast to our recent past, the administration and Trustees are encouraging active involvement in the process. This degree of involvement has never been more important than now, since the forecast for Florida’s higher education system is hardly as rosy as things have been this fall at FAU.

By a narrow margin Florida voters elected Rick Scott as governor, while strong Republican majorities were returned to the state’s legislative chambers. Many of these new leaders are not the moderate Republicans that recently populated the House and Senate–those who appreciated the arguments made by Florida Education Association, United Faculty of Florida, as well as the Board of Governors, that investing in education was tantamount to investing in Florida’s future economic viability. Rather, these individuals will likely be moving to initiate strict programs of “accountability” and “austerity” (read: undermining state employees’ benefits, job security, and professional autonomy), and there’s little reason to believe that such measures will be restricted to K-12 teachers although, as the passage of Senate Bill 6 last spring suggests, they are especially vulnerable.

The available evidence of the new Republican leadership’s extreme agenda for state employees and Florida’s already beleagured education system is not comforting. As Florida Republican Party Chair and State Senator John Thrasher recently remarked, “There is no way in our state right now that the dadgum unions are going to agree with this kind of stuff. So you either bring them to the table and tell them what you’re going to do, or you run over them.” The Republicans’ plans were also recently on display with governor-elect Scott’s appointment of Michelle Rhee to lead the Education Transition Task Force.

The Trustees of Florida’s colleges and universities will also likely be called on to prove their mettle in the fight to dictate workplace conditions in no uncertain terms or, as Senator Thrasher so eloquently put it, to “run over them.” This is because each Trustee’s individual (re)appointment must be approved by the new Republican governor and senate. Therefore, faculty should be vigilant over the next several months on campus matters, as well as those taking place in seemingly distant Tallahassee. Regular updates from Florida Education Association on how the Republican legislature is proceeding will be made available at this website as quickly as they are received.

Faculty members are also encouraged to become more proactive in affairs of faculty governance and observing how the University is managed. Trustees and administrators who see faculty members as detached and uninvolved conclude (perhaps quite rightly) that they care little about their workplace conditions and professional autonomy. At the same time, however, we are also well aware that there are clear limits to what faculty will tolerate, as suggested last spring when the legislature proposed sticking its hands in the FRS cookie jar to balance the budget. There will likely be similar provocations in the coming months, and they will surely come to pass in the 2012 session.

Now more than ever it is time to become involved in the truly independent voice for faculty at FAU and across Florida’s higher education system. It’s time to join UFF and have the piece of mind of standing together as one while we have a profession we are still able to believe in and defend. “We can accomplish together what we cannot accomplish alone.”


James Tracy
UFF-FAU President

WE DID IT!!! WE WON!!! A Major Victory for Educators, Students, Parents, and Our Nation!!!

August 12, 2010. NEA’s “Speak Up for Education & Kids” campaign propels Education Jobs bill through House.

(Received 8-10-10)

Just moments ago, the House passed the education jobs/FMAP bill by a vote of 247-161 . We will forward the roll call vote as soon as it is available. This means the bill only has to go to the President for signature and it becomes law!!! The President will sign the bill this evening at 5:00pm, so that the implementation process can begin immediately! New figures from the U.S. Department of Education estimate that some 161,000 educators who had received pink slips will be heading back to school this fall.

This victory is a result of an amazing team effort involving every level of this Association. The participation by members, the multiple contacts with every single congressional office, the calls, e-mails, and personal visits by affiliate leaders and staff were unprecedented. Together, we put together an unstoppable, persistent campaign that spanned the breadth of the Association, worked tirelessly on our members’ behalf, and overcame multiple pronouncements of the bill’s death by the press, advocates, and Members of Congress.

Our efforts were recognized as very impressive by congressional leaders, the media, our allies, and most importantly, by our members. The following provides a short summary of our campaign efforts, along with a brief discussion of next steps, including immediate actions we are taking to thank Members of Congress as well as efforts to make sure you have all the information you need about how states will receive the funds.

NEA’S EDUCATION JOBS CAMPAIGN: We launched a national “Speak Up for Education & Kids” campaign plus a targeted media campaign to draw attention to the education jobs crisis. Mobilizing NEA members: · 101,636 phone calls were made to congressional offices, including patch-thru programs and our toll-free Speak Up line. · 3,642 members signed petitions in support of education jobs funding. · 32 Affiliate presidents recorded robo calls, which went out to 1.1 million NEA members. · We sent out 42,000 postcards for our members to share their story and deliver to their member of Congress. These postcards were delivered back home and during Capitol Hill visits in Washington, D.C., by Association leaders. · 21,000 organizing packets were developed for state Representative Assemblies and other local meetings. Packets included petitions, worksite flyers, and the postcards mentioned above. · NEA sent 14,264 text messages to our activists with legislative updates and calls to action. · A number of state Presidents/Execs/leaders dropped everything to fly into DC to make personal visits to key

Senators: o AR, Donna Moray – Senator Pryor o CA, David Sanchez – Senator Feinstein o CO, (meeting in CO) – Senators Bennet; Udall o FL, Eric Riley – Senator Nelson o IA, Chris Bern – Senator Harkin o IL, (in state calls): Jim Reed, Cinda Klickna – Senator Durbin o IN, Teresa Meredith – Senator Bayh o LA, Joyce Haynes – Senators Landrieu, Vitter o MA, Paul Toner – Senator Brown o MD , Clara Floyd– Senators Cardin; Mikulski o ME, Rob Walker, Tom Major – Senators Collins; Snowe o MI, Joyce LaLonde o MO, Paula Hodges o NM, Sharon Morgan – Senator Bingaman, Senator Udall o OH , Pat Frost-Brooks – Senators Brown; Voinovich o OR, Jerry Caruthers – Senators Wyden; Merkley o SD, Sandy Arsenault – Senator Johnson o VA, Rob Jones – Senator Webb o WA, John Okamoto – Senators Murray; Cantwell NEA members who had been laid off came to DC for personal Hill visits: ·

Nine states sent member lobbyists to D.C. Twelve Member Lobbyists and four Local Leaders came to D.C. Fourteen House and twelve Senate offices were visited: o CA, Laid off Teachers: Clarissa Barragan, Brianna Clegg, Christopher Rieder; Local leaders: Peter Boyd, Bradford Barnes, Tahnya Noder, John Seybold; Visited Rep. Jane Harman, Rep. Jim Costa, Rep. Dennis Cardoza, Rep. Loretta Sanchez, Sen. Feinstein o IL, Angie Hallock, visited Sen. Durbin, Rep. Quigley, Rep. Foster o IN, Lisa Koester visited Rep. Ellsworth, Rep. Donnelly, Rep. Hill, Sen. Bayh (staff Jonathan) o LA, Carla Lowe visited Sen. Landrieu, Sen. Vitter o ME, Lee Libby visited Sen. Collins, Sen. Snowe o MA, John Lynch visited Sen. Brown o MO, Jeffrey “Tof” McWilliams visited Sen. McCaskill, Sen. Bond o NC, Gina Frutig visited Rep. McIntyre, Rep. Price, Rep. Shuler, Rep. Butterfield, Sen. Hagan; Bethany Banks visited Sen. Hagan o OK, Mitzi Ridinger visited Sen. Inhofe, Rep. Boren ·

The Massachusetts Teachers Association sent an Action Alert from member lobbyist John Lynch · The Maine Education Association sent an action alert to members highlighting the efforts of member lobbyist Lee Libby. · Back Home press was done after the visits in CA, IN, ME, and NC · NEA Today Stories: Laid-off Oklahoma Teacher to Congress: ‘Our Kids Need Your Help’; Laid-Off Educators Go to Washington to Fight for Jobs Legislative and Political Advocacy: · Every congressional office was contacted—multiple contacts were made with all 100 Senate offices and all targeted House members. NEA lobbyists made hundreds of in-person visits with congressional offices on the jobs issue. NEA staff visited every Senate and House offer to hand-deliver letters, state-state-by charts showing jobs that would be created, and other materials. · NEA Board members visited 243 congressional offices in May. · NEA field staff members in town for a meeting visited 37 congressional offices and delivered 35 education jobs information packets to 35 additional House targets. · NEA staff and governance had numerous conversations with Department of Education and White House staff about the need to pass an education jobs fund. · Over 280 delegates at the NEA Representative Assembly videotaped messages to their Senators in support of the jobs bill ( NEA sent links to these video messages to the Senate offices. · Our intergovernmental relations staff made countless contacts with intergovernmental organizations and state and local elected officials, including highlighting the issue at the National Conference of State

Legislatures meeting, and working closely with the DGA. The result was an unprecedented show of support from elected leaders, including letters from governors (NC, MA, OR, MD, IL, IA, KS, CO, OH, MI). Letters from governors are posted on the NEA website ( In addition, three governors released press statements in support of the jobs package (NV, OR, IA); 25 governor s signed a letter supporting FMAP and an extension of the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund (AR, CO, DE, IL, IA, KS, KY, ME, MD, MA, MI, NH, NM, NY, NC, OH, OR, TN, VI, WA, WI); and 25 governors signed a letter in support of the American Jobs and Closing Tax Loopholes Act of 2010 (AR, CO, DE, IL, IA, KS, ME, MD, MA, MI, MT, NM, NY, NC, NH, OH, OK, OR, PA, TN, VI, WA, WI, WV). Social Media: We used the Education Votes website (, the Legislative Action Center (, Facebook (!/speakupforkids), and Twitter (—to mobilize members to contact their Members of Congress about the education jobs bill.

The Speak Up for Education & Kids Facebook page now has 35,621 fans and is still growing. · 301,126 e-mails were sent to Congress through our Legislative Action Center and we garnered 145,786 NEW e-mail activists. · State and local affiliates sent hundreds of thousands of emails to members. · We had 60,460 visits to the Education Votes website and 92,889 page views. · Over 350 personal stories about the impact of layoffs were submitted through the Education Votes site. · Our NEA Today on line site ( posted 47 stories on the jobs campaign.

Earned /Paid Media: · Television spots ( aired in 3 states and Washington, D.C. The markets were: Tallahassee and Panama City (FL-02 Boyd); Mobile (AL-01 Bonner); Lexington (KY-06 Chandler), and Washington, D.C. · Radio ads ( ran in 12 markets, with more than a thousand spots total. Ads aired in these districts: AR-01 Barry, AR-04 Ross, CO-03 Salazar, FL-02 Boyd, GA-02 Bishop, IN-08 Ellsworth, MD-01 Kratovil, TX-17 Edwards.

Internet ads ran in 7 markets, with at least 2 million impressions. Internet ads ran in AL-01 Bonner, CA-20 Schiff, IN-08 Ellsworth, FL-02 Boyd, KY-06 Chandler, OK-04 Cole, TX-17 Edwards, and on The Hill website. We also ran an ad that took over the front page of The Hill’s website. · Print ads ran in 12 markets (29 papers) and in The Hill. Markets included: AR-01 Barry, CO-03 Salazar, FL-02 Boyd, GA-02 Bishop, IL-10 Kirk, IN-08 Ellsworth, KY-06 Chandler, MD-01 Kratovil, OK-04 Cole, PA-08 Murphy, TN-04 Davis, TX-17 Edwards. The Hill ads ran on 5/26 and5/27.

We scored interviews on national news outlets—including CBS News, NBC News, MSNBC, FOX News, The Fox Report, CNN, C-SPAN, New York Times, Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, The Wall Street Journal, McClatchy wire service, Associated Press, USA Today, NPR, and CBS Radio. We also leveraged national events—like the naming of the 2010 Teacher of the Year and President Obama’s commencement address at a high school in Michigan—to draw more public attention to the education jobs bill.

Dennis Van Roekel participated in a press conference with Representative Obey (D-WI), Senator Harkin (D-IA), and Secretary Duncan in May. This event generated considerable press coverage, including in the Washington Post and on CNN radio. Coalition work: Through our extensive coalition efforts, we:

  • Gained the support of over 190 diverse organizations for passage of the education jobs bill.
  • Built a solid union coalition along with the AFL-CIO, AFSCME, AFT, and SEIU that hung together and ran–with the cooperation and engagement of our state affiliate leaders–coalition grasstops efforts on the ground in 10 swing Senate states.
  • Helped solidify the education community’s voice and activities, notably through engagement in our Speak Up effort, Learning First Alliance coordination and outreach, Forum on Educational Accountability actions, and collaborative work through the Committee on Education Funding.
  • Launched a major initiative to gain parent and family voices in support of the jobs legislation, including specific outreach and collaborative work with the National PTA, Public Education Network, National Coalition for Parental Involvement in Education, Coalition of Title I Parents, Coalition of Community Schools, Boys and Girls Clubs, and NEA’s Public Engagement participants.
  • Engaged in a major outreach effort to the ethnic minority and civil rights communities, gaining visible support for the education jobs legislation from a wide array of these organizations, including action alerts and member involvement from American Indian Higher Education Consortium, Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA), ASPIRA, Black Women’s Roundtable (BTR), Latino Elected and Appointed Officials National Task Force on education, League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), National Association for Asian Pacific American Education (NAAPAE), National Black Caucus of State Legislators (NBCSL), National Coalition on Black Civic Participation (NCBCP), National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators (NHCSL), the National Indian Education Association and the National Indian School Board Association (NISBA).
  • We will be sending you additional materials and information in future e-mails and ask that you keep an eye out for those communications. Thank yous to Members of Congress:
  • We have already sent out a press release (see attached) praising Speaker Pelosi for calling the House back in and urging people to vote for the bill.
  • We will be pitching an op-ed by Dennis Van Roekel to media outlets following the vote. Dennis will also appear on MSNBC today. · Thank you letters will go to all Members of the House who supported the bill.
  • Thank you letters were sent last week to Senators who voted for the bill.
  • We have updated our Legislative Action Center to provide talking points to thank Members who voted yes and express disappointment to those who voted against the bill.
  • We will be sending out a special “Ed Insider” this afternoon to all NEA cyberlobbyists urging them to thank Members of Congress. · Stories about the victory will be posted on and Education Votes and will also appear in the next NEA Express and NEA Today publications.
  • We have already run print ads in Maine, Washington State, and Nevada thanking Senators Snowe, Collins, Murray, and Reid (see Reid ad attached). Additional thank you ads and other media activities are planned.

NEXT STEPS: We will be undertaking a number of steps in the coming days and weeks both to thank Members of Congress who supported us and to ensure that you have all the information you need regarding how states will receive the funds.

Distribution of Funds: Governors have 30 days to apply for the money; otherwise, Secretary Duncan can distribute it to another entity/entities, such as school districts. You should have received an initial e-mail from us yesterday with preliminary information about the bill and implementation issues. It is very important that affiliates:

1. Contact, preferably in writing, your state department of education and/or your governor’s office and urge them to apply immediately for the money;

2. Figure out which distribution method – the state funding formula or Title I formula – will save the most jobs in your state, based on the density of layoffs.

We are also working with the U.S. Department of Education on guidance about the urgency of getting this money to flow.

UFF-FAU Bargaining Update

August 2, 2010. Bargaining Team appreciative of 2010-11 three percent salary increase offer, Asks for modest 2009-10 half-percent increase to achieve greater parity with salary growth of administrators and other out-of-unit employees.

After the announcement of raises for out-of-unit employees by the administration, I know that many of you have been anxiously awaiting resolution of the bargaining contract for unionized employees.  I would like to share with you where we are in the process.

We have reached agreement on most of the articles in the contract.  The two contentious issues that remain are Salaries and Reserved Management Rights.  You can read the proposed Article 4 here. We are concerned that a significant expansion of management rights has been proposed and we strongly object to the insertion of their interpretation of case law into the agreement.

On salaries, the latest administration proposal for in-unit employees includes a 3% increase in base salaries.  The proposed increases would be effective at the start of the 2010-2011 academic year.  The increase would be distributed as follows: a 1% retention increase for all faculty with satisfactory evaluations, a 1% increase for meritorious performance, and a 1% increase for performance based market equity.  These are the three categories that we have traditionally tried to secure increases in.  We are satisfied with these increases for 2010-2011, but we remain concerned with how to adequately compensate faculty for 2009-10. The administration has proposed no increases for 2009-10.

The popular perception is that the University was dealing with a dire budget situation in 2009-10 which prompted tenured faculty layoffs without adequate notice and numerous special meetings to discuss the budget.  We have just learned, however, that during the same period, many administrators and other out of unit employees received special pay increases whose total exceeded $500,000.   These special raises were in addition to pay increases for promotions and job reassignments.  We believe that in-unit employees deserve similar compensation and have offered to settle for an additional 0.5% increase, for a total increase of 3.5%.

In the next couple of weeks we hope to share the data on pay raises in 2009-10 for out-of-unit and in-unit employees with the faculty community and solicit your input on salaries through an online survey.  Based on those findings, we hope to conclude negotiations soon after the start of the Fall semester.

In Solidarity,

Sharmila Vishwasrao


UFF to File Lawsuit Against FAU BOT, Administration

February 24, 2010. FAU admin & trustees’ refusal to arbitrate to be challenged through Motion to Compel Arbitration in circuit court.

Imagine that you are walking to your car after work. It’s late at night and your ride is the last one in a poorly-lit parking garage. Suddenly, a knife-wielding figure jumps out of the darkness, knocks you down and violently stabs you in the abdomen. The person then dashes off into the night. You’re thoroughly traumatized, even though you’d received threats and were already on guard. From your hospital bed you find that your assailant has been apprehended by the police. Although he acknowledges the attack, he maintains that he should not appear before a judge because, after all, he was nice enough to pull the knife out of your person before absconding and plans to pick up your hospital bill and send you some flowers as you recover.

The analogy is not perfect. To be so it would have to provide for how your attacker was also your employer, and thus had control over where you park your car and what time you leave work. Yet this is essentially what took place on May 29, 2009 when the Frank Brogan and John Pritchett-led administration assailed the faculty body and the institution of tenure at FAU. The administration has since asserted that even though a bludgeoning of the faculty body may have taken place, all is now better and there is really no need for a silly arbitration.

It is true that the administration has partially withdrawn the knife from the faculty body (two of the five layoffs have now been officially rescinded and all faculty members have been provided with alternative positions), yet the body is still wounded while the culprit stubbornly refuses to abide by the arbitration process provided for in the Collective Bargaining Agreement. Further, the assurance and peace of mind the faculty body once may have had for its safety is now gone, probably for good. This is not merely a refusal to arbitrate. More importantly, it is a refusal to acknowledge the legitimacy of the faculty’s legal representative–United Faculty of Florida.

This is the essence of the argument presented in UFF-FAU’s Unfair Labor Practice charge filed with PERC earlier this month concerning the union’s Chapter Grievance: the entire faculty body is harmed when the administration/BOT is allowed to violate the CBA–in this instance by setting up “functional units” to bypass the CBA and target tenured faculty. FEA attorneys now intend to file a Motion to Compel Arbitration in circuit court on the grounds that the FAU administration and trustees are in no position to unilaterally determine whether a grievance is arbitrable. Only a trained arbitrator has the capacity to do this.

ULPs and lawsuits both take time to receive hearings. UFF-FAU will keep you apprised of further developments as we become aware of them. This time around, FAU trustees and administrators may have to learn the hard way that they cannot arrogantly claim, “I am the state!” as they did in dismissing the PERC Special Magistrate’s ruling on faculty salaries in April 2009. This is an especially good thing given their particularly one-sided sense of justice.

Old Dixie, the “Devolution” of Florida’s University System, and Faculty Empowerment

February 17, 2010. “Educational reform” measures put forth by Florida’s Council of 100 business leaders and endorsed by GOP power broker Jeb Bush require scrutiny in historical context.

When considering the recent proposals comprising “Closing the Talent Gap,” put forth this month by Florida’s Council of 100,  it is important to keep in mind the dramatic political and structural changes to Florida’s State University System that have occurred over the past ten years. An oft-overlooked or forgotten chapter of Florida higher education’s recent past should be kept at the forefront of our thinking so that we may place the United Faculty of Florida and SUS’s plight in proper perspective. Central to this is  the quasi-privitization of the state’s public universities, termed “devolution,” that took place under Jeb Bush’s governorship and the successful move to destroy the statewide collective bargaining framework existing between the United Faculty of Florida and Florida’s Board of Regents.

Florida is part of the “Old South,” and one of the South’s legacies is a hostility toward independent worker organization that can be traced, without too much imagination, to the antebellum era. In the face of broad unionization throughout the US northeastern, mid-west, and western states during the 1940s and 1950s, American corporations sought to relocate to areas where there was less unionization and the deck was stacked against organizing through anti-labor laws. Like many of their counterparts in the Old Confederacy after passage of the anti-labor Taft-Hartley Act, Florida legislators moved to make it more difficult for workers to form unions through implementation of “right to work,” or “open shop” laws. At institutions where a majority of workers managed to vote union representation into existence, such laws allowed employees to opt out of paying dues even though they were members of the bargaining unit and received the protections and benefits of representation. UFF’s present organizing efforts are rooted in attempts to work within the framework of these very laws designed to undermine worker power and solidarity that a strong union can provide. Our organizing efforts are never-ending.

The UFF membership’s resolve to maintain its capacity as a statewide faculty union was dealt a heavy blow in the early 2000s. The Board of Regents that oversaw the SUS resisted a handful of powerful legislators’ attempts to build law schools at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University and Florida International University, and a medical school at Florida State University. Infuriated at the BOR’s recalcitrance, Governor Bush and an unusual coalition of Republican and Democratic state legislators moved to abolish the BOR and decentralize the SUS. The result was that each institution was placed under the direct oversight of a separate Board of Trustees.

This decentralization of power to BOTs was in close accord with the national Republican Party’s mission to privatize public institutions and run government “like a business.” The move was also an obvious attempt to weaken Florida’s teacher and faculty unions, which have been strong supporters of the Democratic Party. Bush made sure the eleven new BOTs were loaded with pro-business Republican donors, a practice reconfirmed in  BOG Chancellor and Bush associate Frank Brogan’s October 2009 BOT (re)appointments. These trustees, many of whom do not possess a full understanding of public higher education and would just as soon farm out university instruction to unqualified “private contractors” (adjuncts), are indifferent if not hostile toward public employees’ unions and collective bargaining.

The governance changes were used by the new BOTs as a basis to end bargaining that, since the UFF’s establishment in the mid-1970s, took place between UFF and the BOR. The BOTs argued unanimously that they were no longer bound by the statewide agreements. In response, with the aid of our parent organization, the American Federation of Teachers, UFF mobilized and collected thousands of authorization cards from large majorities of faculty to recertify each UFF chapter as a bargaining agent with their respective BOTs. At eight universities faculty support for recertification of UFF was 65% or more and the BOTs at these institutions voluntarily recognized UFF. At FAU 70% of faculty members who were approached signed cards for recertification. University of West Florida and Florida State University held out for elections where UFF went on to win 90% or more of the ballots at each institution. The University of Florida’s BOT refused to recognize UFF until 2005, when an appellate court decided in the Union’s favor (Fiorito and Gallagher, 2006).

The radical move to decentralize was tempered in 2002 when Florida Governor Bob Graham’s voter amendment mandated a Board of Governors to administer SUS affairs. In contrast to the BOR, however, power exercised by the BOG takes a backseat to the BOTs. (The BOG Chancellorship being occupied by Bush’s former Lieutenant Governor is a curious new development that deserves close scrutiny.) In light of the above, the aforementioned package of “educational reform” proposals put forward by Florida’s Council of 100 and vigorously endorsed by Bush must also be looked at with major reservations, particularly by public educators. For example, the moves to strip K-12 teachers of tenure–or to otherwise make tenure meaningless–is a policy already being tested in the SUS. Further, the document’s buzzwords, such as “accountability” and “efficiency,” often translate to jeopardized academic freedom and an increasingly deteriorating educational experience for students.

This history is willfully forgotten by administrators and trustees at FAU and other state universities, many of whom calculated that UFF would be incapable of reviving itself after the SUS’s decentralization. The sentiment is reflected in remarks such as, “UFF ‘represents some faculty at [ABC] University.'” Keeping in mind this recent history, such an assertion should be recognized for what it is: an attempt to mislead those of us who’ve forgotten or are unaware of our institutional and historical positions in the struggle to preserve the profession’s autonomy. Without question faculty at FAU and throughout the SUS desire independent representation before their administrations and Boards of Trustees, even though the legacy of Old Dixie allows them the opportunity not to pay for such representation.

In solidarity,

James Tracy
UFF-FAU President

Fiorito, J. and V.C. Gallagher (2006) ‘Renewal in the United Faculty of Florida: class war in paradise?’ Labor Studies Journal Vol 31,No 3:39-64.