Dear UFF Members and Leaders,
As many of you are aware, HB 233, known as the “Viewpoint Diversity” bill, was signed into law by Governor DeSantis on June 22nd. Key provisions in this bill that affect higher education in Florida are—
- It mandates annual intellectual freedom and viewpoint diversity surveys for higher ed faculty and students. We do not yet know how these surveys will be structured, nor is there any clear indication of how the survey data will be used.
- It allows students to record classroom lectures without a requirement for prior notice and without the faculty member’s consent, with specific limitations on where and how those recordings can be used.
- It provides “anti-shielding” measures that forbid institutions from restricting the kinds of views and statements that students can have access to or observe on higher education campuses.
Various legal avenues are being explored by FEA Legal and UFF Staff; as the surveys, rules, and policies are developed in response to these provisions, we will continue to monitor the legal implications. The mandated surveys (see #1 above) are currently under development by the State University and Florida College systems, and UFF’s officers are meeting with both governing bodies to share our concerns and hopefully influence the design of these surveys. More specific guidance will be shared on these fronts later in July. We will also be sharing guidance on how to respond in contract enforcement, collective bargaining, and campus organizing scenarios. That said, UFF recommends the following preliminary measures for our members who are teaching this summer:
- Classroom Instructors should consider recording all of their lectures on their own devices and should maintain their records for several semesters. Such recordings can be made as long as students are given proper notice, which can be accomplished by adding language to a course syllabus stating that the faculty member makes recordings of lectures. Having verifiable records could be helpful in defending against false accusations or sound bites taken out of context.
- Remember that “a recorded lecture may not be published without the consent of the lecturer,” and it may be employed only—
- “for a student’s own personal educational use”
- “in connection with a complaint to the public institution of higher education where the recording was made”
- “as evidence in, or in preparation for, a criminal or civil proceeding”
Recorded lectures used for other purposes may allow the faculty member to seek “damages plus court costs and reasonable attorney fees, with the total recovery not to exceed $200,000.”
- You may not forbid or discourage students from recording your classes. Additionally, be sure to follow all campus policies regarding recording of classes. Remember that in most instances, it is better to comply now, then grieve later.
- During your lectures, remember that this law amends Florida’s interpretation of rights to free speech expressive activities protected under the First Amendment to include “faculty research, lectures, writings, and commentary, whether published or unpublished” and that “A Florida College System institution or state university may not shield students, faculty, or staff from expressive activities.” Defamatory speech is not a protected form of expressive activity.
The text of HB 233 can be accessed here, and we encourage all members to read it before entering the classroom this summer. Members who encounter any scenarios not covered in our above guidance should reach out to their local UFF chapter leadership with all questions and concerns.
We recognize that this bill has made many of us feel uncomfortable, but a number of its parameters remain uncertain and those that are already clear can be managed. As a union, we stand strongest when we stand together; rest assured that the members of UFF will not be left to weather this storm alone.
Andrew Gothard, UFF President
Caitlin Gille, UFF First Vice President
UFF-UNF Statement on Racial Discrimination Against AAPI
Our chapter of UFF-UNF is saddened by the escalating violence and racially-motivated murders occurring within the United States. This escalation has occurred partially because of recent developments, including racist rhetoric surrounding COVID-19 and the ongoing trade war with China. In particular, we want to address and call attention to the 3,800 hate incidents targeting Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) that have been reported within the United States since March 2020 as well as the mass killing of 6 Asian American women in Atlanta, the murders of Vicha Ratanapakdee, Juanito Falcon, Angelo Quinto, and Christian Hall.
We need to acknowledge that this racially-motivated violence against AAPI community members is NOT a recent occurrence and is rooted in a long history of violence, discrimination, and exclusion against individuals of AAPI descent within the United States. This history includes but is not limited to anti-immigration policies targeting AAPI individuals and internment during World War II. As an inclusive campus, we must work to challenge the erasure of AAPI people and the categorization of AAPI as outsiders.
We recognize that words can only do so much and we acknowledge the experiences of faculty at the university. We urge UNF to continue to make a real institutional change by continuing an honest, open, and uncomfortable dialogue and revisiting institutional practices that reinforce structural racism and inequality.
There are many things that we can do:
As the UFF chapter of UNF, we stand in solidarity with our AAPI faculty, staff, and students and will use our guaranteed right to collectively bargain to make positive changes in the university.
UFF-UNF’s Activity Related to the COVID-19 Pandemic
As with the rest of the world, UFF-UNF continues to monitor the effects of the novel coronavirus. In March 2020, UNF moved all Spring and Summer 2020 on-campus courses to online/distance learning instruction, effectively limiting campus activities to essential services. UFF-UNF remains committed to ensuring transparency in universities policies related to faculty. In doing so, UFF-UNF continues impact bargaining sessions, resulting in various important agreements to support faculty rights. Below is a summary of UFF-UNF’s activities related to pandemic: Union Covid Response
Recent Union Wins
The past several months have been tumultuous, and during these trying times, some good news is always welcomed. UFF-UNF remains committed to protecting faculty rights and ensuring equitable workplace conditions. So, below is a summary of some of the few things we’ve been doing behind the scenes to support UNF faculty during these very trying times:
- Secured a 3% salary raise for all in-unit faculty during the 2019-2020 academic year
- Ensured the 3% raise be calculated into the salaries of eligible 9-month faculty teaching Summer 2020 courses
- Oversaw the one-time payment of $2830 to all in-unit faculty in May 2020
- Bargained for a 3% salary raise for all in-unit faculty during the 2020-2021 academic year
- Agreed to a one-time payment to select faculty earning “far achieves” in all categories, to be distributed in October 2020
- Successfully ratified 4 departmental guidelines (Department of Teaching, Learning, and Curriculum; Library; Department of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures; and School of music)
- Elected four university-wide promotion and leave committees
- Amended Article 4 (UFF Rights) to provide for four additional course releases to be used in fall, spring, or summer to prepare and conduct full-book negotiations
- Established a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) about faculty rights related to the Covid-19 pandemic
- Hosted a Town Hall event with UFF leadership to obtain and answer faculty questions regarding the potential reopening of campus for Fall 2020 in light of the global coronavirus pandemic
- As the world continues monitoring the coronavirus pandemic, UFF-UNF continues to participate in impact bargaining. Updates on impact bargaining can be found here.
Your Faculty Rights
Thank you for joining us for our Faculty Rights Forum! Here is the PowerPoint highlighting your rights under the contract and impact bargaining MOUs. FACULTY RIGHTS
View the June 11th UFF-UNF Faculty Presentation to the Board of Trustees Team HERE
UFF Steering Committee Statement in Memory of George Floyd
Review the UFF/FEA Higher Education Re-Opening Committee Guidelines here.
UFF-UNF stands with our UNF community.
Statement of Unity
We pledge to stand with and for those who are the most vulnerable members of our community and to take actions that help our students and fellow employees feel safe and know that they are safe. We affirm UNF’s unreserved commitment to student success within a diverse, supportive campus culture. We seek to embody the ideals of a free and democratic society, and we fully support and value each member of our community.
UNF stands in unity and solidarity with all members of our community, regardless of race, gender, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, disability, or country of origin. We are proud of the diversity in our students, faculty and staff.We strongly condemn acts of hate and bigotry as antithetical to the university’s core values of mutual respect and civility. Actions and words that seek to deny human beings full membership in the broader moral community on the basis of arbitrary characteristics are intolerable. We stand opposed to violence in language or in action, and we see these as a threat to the mission of UNF as a public university that is committed to intellectual and cultural growth and civic awareness.
The UNF chapter of the United Faculty of Florida represents all UNF tenure-line faculty, instructors & lecturers, and visiting professors on all labor-related contract negotiations (roughly 600 full-time faculty). With the exception of faculty currently holding administrative posts and adjuncts, all UNF faculty are considered “in unit” and are covered under the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) negotiated by our chapter and university administration. Only active members of the union, however, receive additional union-related benefits (including union representation in the grievance/arbitration processes). Join Here