We would like to state our support for FSU’s transgender employees in their pursuit of healthcare coverage as it pertains to their medical needs. “Transgender” includes people who are transsex and/or gender nonbinary. Currently, health insurance offered to employees, as regulated by the Florida Department of Management Services, discriminates against transgender personnel. The Supreme Court’s recent ruling confirms that the 1964 Civil Rights Act protects gay, lesbian, and transgender employees from discrimination based on sex. The ruling makes it clear that FSU is responsible for mitigating any discrimination against its employees. We urge FSU’s administration to remedy this issue as expediently as possible by providing non-discriminatory health insurance coverage for transgender employees.
While the university is currently proposing substantial changes to the layoff process in the Collective Bargaining Agreement, it is good to review the last time that FSU attempted a large layoff of faculty and the outcome.
FSU sent layoff notices to more than 5 dozen tenured, tenure-track and specialized faculty in 2009. The UFF filed a grievance on their behalf and and the hearing before an arbitrator was held in the fall of 2010. A final decision was rendered in early November. Though it is long, it is interesting to read the arbitrators decision and note that the very provisions that saved faculty members positions are those that the administration is now attempting to change and weaken.
George Floyd. Ahmaud Aubery. Breonna Taylor. One more family devastated. One more child without a parent. The list goes on and on, with incidents almost too frequent to be reported. Their crime was to be in the wrong place at the wrong time… and to be Black. The United Faculty of Florida strongly condemns not only the brutal murder of George Floyd, but the systemic racism that tries to excuse this and countless other acts of violence by law enforcement against Black Americans.
In a nation that boasts of guaranteeing its citizens life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, Black Americans are too often denied basic human rights that many of us take for granted. They can’t jog without worrying about being shot. They can’t sleep without worrying about being killed. They can’t even go bird watching in a public park without being threatened.
No one should be afraid to live their lives as they choose or to seek help from police because of their skin color. A mother shouldn’t be worried about her teenager because he wants to spend time in public with his friends. Fathers should not have to see murders on live TV, and project that nightmare onto their own children. Families should not have to bury their loved ones before they have graduated from high school or known the joy of holding a grandchild.
At UFF, we are committed to representing a diverse membership. We cherish that diversity. We only hope that we can understand the pain, anger and the outrage that these continued atrocities have produced. We stand with the thousands who have vocally and peacefully taken to the streets of our country. We stand with those who are the victims of this violence. We stand with those who are no longer requesting, but demanding, meaningful change.
The rage coursing through the streets of Minneapolis and other cities is born from hundreds of years of prejudice played out as personal discrimination or legal bias. We oppose any form of violence, but cannot delude ourselves into believing that the responsibility lies only with others. It also lies within ourselves. Not one of us should feel that we are untouched by the effects of the pernicious disease of racism. Recent events only underscore this fact. The disproportionate mortality rate of the COVID virus on communities of color is only one more indication of its tragic and enduring legacy. We call upon our members, families, colleges, and communities to stand with us against racism in all its forms.
We also call upon Law Enforcement, and, particularly, our union sisters and brothers in Law Enforcement, to examine their contracts and policies to ensure that they are written in ways that hold those charged with keeping the peace accountable for their actions. We cannot claim to be a state which prizes equality so long as we have a criminal justice system that disproportionately impacts marginalized communities.
Those endangered by racism are our members and colleagues, families and friends, students and former students. It is critical at this time that we not only speak out, but live out the values that we claim to cherish. Demands for respect, civility, diversity, equality, and inclusion cannot just be empty words shouted in the heat of the moment. We must speak up and speak out whenever we witness hatred, racism or injustice, however small or subtle it might be. This must be a part of what we do every minute of the day in both our personal and professional lives.
In our role as educators, researchers, and mentors, we must prepare those we teach to commit to vigorous and wholehearted participation in our democracy. An honest civic discourse cannot and may not obscure the truth. This cannot be “normal”. The killings must stop. The system must change. We all must work together to build a just society, where life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are guaranteed for each and every one us,wherever we were born, whomever we love, and whatever the color of our skin.
Matthew Lata, President, UFF/FSU Chapter,
Approved by the UFF Steering Committee
Dear UFF-FSU Member,
Faculty have worked hard to ensure that the unplanned transition to online teaching and remote counseling, research and service this semester has been as smooth as possible. Almost all of us have felt the stress of this new situation and many faculty have additional caregiving duties for spouses, parents, and/or children. Amid changing work environments and attending to students’ new problems, your own needs as faculty may seem to be overlooked. UFF-FSU wants to provide information to help you. We are in this together
We are offering information on the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES), the Family First Coronavirus Response Act (which expands leave options during this crisis) and expanded resources for free trauma counseling and remote teaching.
The CARES Act has multiple provisions that may impact you and our parent union, the National Education Association (NEA). The NEA offers fact sheets on one-time payments, unemployment compensation, and student loans. The Family First Coronavirus Response Act can assist you in accessing additional leave benefits, including if you are ill from the virus yourself or caring for a sick family member or a dependent who is not in school due to closures. The NEA offers more information here.
Many of us are struggling with new stresses and anxieties. Our other parent union, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), offers a new member benefit for UFF members: free trauma counseling sessions with highly trained therapists. For information about how to access these services, click here. Contact UFF’s main office to get your member number if you don’t have it.
We also want to share three sources of information to assist with teaching:
1) The Chronicle of Higher Education Teaching Newsletter features a weekly roundup about teaching and learning.
2) The Facebook Group “Higher Ed and the Coronavirus”: In this group you can ask reporters questions, tell stories about how your college or university is reacting to the virus, and share practical tips with members.
3) Suggestions on how to proceed after moving course content online from an article in NEA Today.
The UFF-FSU tagline “FSU works because we do!” is apropos to the current pandemic. UFF-FSU is here for you. We’re listening. To contact us, email [email protected] or you can reach us through our website: uff-fsu.org.
Your colleagues in UFF-FSU