September 1, 2012. Welcome back to the Idea Factory! What’s on the horizon for FAU faculty this coming fall.
Welcome back to the Idea Factory. The distant metallic sound you might hear is the sharpening of knives by some of our state overlords in Tallahassee in the hopes of gutting public education and unions once and for all. Our governor established a Blue Ribbon Task Force on State Higher Education Reform in May. According to the Tampa Bay Times, the panel’s main task is “to identify ways to make the state’s higher education systems more efficient.” This euphemism of “efficiency” hangs in the air like a toxic cloud barely covering the cost-cutting and privatizing of public education that lurks beneath it. We have seen efficiency at work in inflating class caps, gouging students for higher tuitions, increasing course loads, questioning the viability of tenure, and demonizing faculty and faculty unions.
We expect to see anti-union legislation making the rounds in Tallahassee again this year. Two bills likely to appear this year will eliminate payroll deduction of union dues and also decertify unions with less than 50% membership. At FAU we are currently hovering at 40%. We need to make our numbers 50% by the end of the academic year so that faculty can be adequately represented on the campus and within the state. You can print a union membership form at the bottom of the webpage: http://uff-fau.org/?p=16. Send it to Chris Robé CU 214 on the Boca campus.
On the state level, UFF’s lawsuit (through our affiliate, the Florida Education Association) regarding the 3% FRS deduction will be going before the state supreme court this fall. Although the defendants wanted to drag the case out, our attorneys fast-tracked it to the supreme court since we won an overwhelmingly positive verdict from a circuit court judge who decreed the deduction unconstitutional. If we win the following case, a challenge to the 2.5% ORP deduction is soon to follow. Remember, your union dues help pay for actions like this that protect your paycheck.
On the campus level, we have been bargaining since spring. More details are available on the flip-side of this broadsheet regarding our process. Some issues we have stressed are raises/equity (as always), parental leave, partner benefits, and promotional raises for instructors and lecturers.
Also, after receiving numerous complaints from faculty regarding internal SACS accreditation, UFF-FAU has compiled a report based on faculty comments and submitted it to the provost and others in charge of SACS accreditation on August 14. We are waiting to hear back from them to schedule a meeting regarding our concerns and recommendations. You can read the report on the UFF-FAU website (www.uff-fau.org).
The instructor/lecturer promotional structure has now been put in place. Your departments/schools should have determined the criteria for promotion last spring. If they have not, please let us know. UFF-FAU has contacted the provost to determine submission deadlines for instructor/lecturer promotional materials. We are still awaiting an answer. We will let you know as soon as we hear back from them. Also, we would like to hold a workshop for all instructors/lecturers going up for promotion this year this fall, depending upon the due date of materials.
The UFF-FAU new faculty luncheon will be held in the Board of Trustees’ Room (3rd floor Administration Building) on September 14, 11:30-1:30 PM. This is open to all faculty. We encourage you to bring new faculty and/or non-union members to the luncheon. UFF-FAU will update you on our actions as well as answer any questions you might have. Also, the statewide UFF Senate will be held in Tampa on September 22-23. This is open to all UFF senators, bargaining team members, and EC members. It serves as a valuable forum to network with other UFF chapters to compare issues and concerns.
UFF-FAU wants to hold a speaker series each semester. We are looking for faculty input on who to invite. The talks can range from pragmatic matters (e.g. “What are my retirement benefits?”) to broader concerns (e.g. “How is public education being eviscerated?”). Please email your suggestions to president(at)uff-fau.org.
We will also be releasing the administrative survey in the next few weeks. Be on the lookout.
Finally, we are always looking for faculty to get involved. Half of the union’s task is advocating on behalf of the faculty’s collective interests. But this advocacy becomes hollow if we don’t have faculty actively supporting the union by getting involved. The first step is joining. But the next step is participating in the union with whatever unique skills you possess. We can always use more bargainers, grievance representatives, recruiters, writers, artists, mathematicians, and the like. You can dedicate as much or as little time as you have available. But dedicating some time is of the utmost importance.
Since we would like to have our union density over 50% by the end of this academic year, we need faculty who are willing to recruit: going to other faculty offices and speaking to colleagues about their concerns and how they intersect with union goals. Please write to me at president(at)uff-fau.org if you are interested. If we have enough people interested, we will hold a recruiting workshop this fall. Look forward to seeing you soon!