Florida Shortchanges Its Universities

From the St. Petersburg Times Tampabay.com

October 28, 2011 By Times Wire

At least credit former U.S. Sen. George LeMieux for being half-right: Tuition at Florida’s public universities is too low. But so is the state’s direct support. The hard fact that no one in Tallahassee’s majority party seems willing to acknowledge is that the state,
not just students, must invest more in higher education if Florida’s universities are ever going to rank among the nation’s best and help diversify the economy.

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FEA Suit on Mandatory Retirement Contribution (Pay Cut)

Below you will see an FEA report, a news media report, and links to other news
reports on the legal battle over cuts to our pay that the legislature and
governor approved this past spring. This is one of the reasons that the UFF is affiliated
with the Florida Education Association (FEA) and other organizations. Most
observers expect the battle over this spring’s legislated 3% pay cut (the newly
mandated contribution to retirement) to end up in the Supreme Court. The
Meyer-Brooks law firm arguing on behalf of state employees (the same firm that
handled our case in the layoffs announced in 2009) does not work cheap, and the
combined resources of all FEA affiliate’s members, including us, will ensure
that Ron Meyer can take the case as far as necessary. There is no certainty of
success, but it is encouraging to know that a good fight is being fought. As
the bumper sticker says, “UFF takes sides, yours.”

Please join UFF if you are not already a member.
Membership forms are available at www.uff-fsu.org

If you are a member, thank you for your support!

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UFF Update, Oct. 20th

Hardly a day passes recently without some discouraging word for public higher
education from the Legislature or the Governor.  Most of you have probably
already seen or heard about the Governor’s posting of faculty salaries from
throughout the State University System.  Although announced with reference to
accountability and transparency, several faculty members have suggested more
sinister motives underly this seemingly sudden interest in transparency on the
part of the Gov. who took the 5th Amendment scores of times when asked about massive Medicaid/Medicare fraud by the company he led.

See:   http://www.miamiherald.com/2011/10/19/2461865/motive-for-posting-florida-profs.html

You can find the salary data at via a link to a spreadsheet at this URL:

http://www.floridahasarighttoknow.com/search_state_payroll_info.html

Many of you have also heard of Gov. Scott’s request to President Barron for a
wide range of information on FSU.  Governor Scott’s letter of Oct. 13 to
President Barron is available here:

http://www.uff-fsu.org/art/Scott-Barron20111013.pdf

And of course everyone has heard that Gov. Scott doesn’t seem to like
Anthropology, Psychology … and various other fields that he believes have
little vocational training content or little value to private sector employers
(see above letter and Miami Herald story on related points, and the link just below).

See The Economist‘s response to Gov. Scott’s attacks on anthropology:

http://www.economist.com/blogs/democracyinamerica/2011/10/education-policy

Closer to home, the news is more encouraging from collective bargaining and
consultations with the FSU Administration/Board of Trustees.

A UFF faculty team met with President Barron and Provost Stokes for almost
two hours on September 30th.  Useful conversations were held on salaries,
position classifications, and assorted other issues.

Faculty and Administration bargaining teams have continued regular meetings
throughout the summer and into the fall.  Recent discussions have centered on
Administration initiatives to revise the Performance Evaluations article (Art.
10), and the teams feel that they are converging on this issue.  The teams are
also planning to discuss or continue discussions on non-tenure track faculty
reclassifications, academic freedom, tenure, the Salary Plan for Professors, and
benefits.  Bargaining sessions are normally held on Wednesday afternoons at the
FSU Training Center and are open to all faculty members.  The next session is
scheduled for Wednesday, Nov. 2nd, at 2pm.

UFF-FSU Supports "Occupy Tallahassee"

On October 14, the UFF-FSU Executive Council adopted the following resolution:

“UFF-FSU stands in solidarity with Occupy Tallahassee and the Occupy Wall Street movement.

As champions of worker rights, equality, and fairness, we support students, faculty and other groups and individuals demonstrating for economic and political justice. The Occupy Wall Street movement highlights economic inequality and political corruption in a time when collective bargaining rights are under attack. Higher education funding has been slashed and tuition rates and student debt have increased exponentially. Major U.S. corporations are posting record profits during a time of economic instability and high unemployment rates. Banks were bailed out and tax cuts for the wealthy continued as millions lost their homes and their pensions, and as millions goes hungry and lack healthcare insurance. Promises of job creation have been replaced by cuts in wages, benefits, and state workers. It is time to stand up for the rights of people over profit.

Occupy Tallahassee joins the global “Occupy Wall Street” movement in a day of protest on Saturday, October 15 in a “surround the Capitol” demonstration. The rally begins Friday, October 14, at 4:00. For more information about Occupy Tallahassee and coming events, visit http://occupytallahassee.org/