We each have the Constitutional right to the freedom of speech and free association, although when exercised in the course of public sector employment, the courts have placed restrictions on our First Amendment free speech rights. As public employees, we have additional Constitutional protections in the workplace that those in the private sector may not enjoy. In-unit faculty are also protected by the provisions in our Collective Bargaining Agreement in regards to our Constitutional rights and the right to due process for disciplinary action (see Articles 27 and 30). Nevertheless, as an employee of a public university in the state of Florida, there are some general guidelines and best practices for engaging in political activity as it relates to your position at UNF. Though the following list is not meant to be comprehensive, it provides some basic do’s and don’ts.
POLITICAL ACTION can be defined as persuading government officials via any medium, such as signing petitions, organizing or participating in demonstrations, distributing fliers, political fund raising, and political outreach.
IT IS OK to volunteer for and engage in political activities on your own time (including legitimate leave time), with your own equipment, and via a non-UNF server.
IT IS OK to discuss politics in and out of the classroom within the educational contexts of learning, research, and teaching your subject.
AVOID volunteering and engaging in political activities while at UNF during regular business hours and even if not in a scheduled activity.
DO NOT use your UNF email account for political action (it becomes public record).
DO NOT use UNF property for political activity including, but not limited to, phones, computers, printers, copiers, university administered websites, official university letterhead, or official university logos.
DO NOT direct students to volunteer or engage in political action as part of their class requirements.
DO NOT engage in political initiatives and mention your institutional affiliation. Instead, give a disclaimer indicating that your actions and statements are your own and not those of the University.
This list is not meant to discourage civic engagement at UNF, an important part of campus life. For more resources on this topic, see below:
You don’t need to be an Officer or Senator (our elected positions) to serve on a UFF committee. Just contact UNF-UFF President John White (firstname.lastname@example.org) and let him know you would like to participate. Shared governance with UFF makes a tangible difference in the lives of faculty and therefore our students and University.
Our current committees are:
- Bargaining – You can get involved in negotiating our contract (CBA). You don’t necessarily have to sit at the negotiation table to participate. We always need observers to the negotiation process and people willing to help with research and campaigns for certain issues (e.g., Family leave).
- Membership – This includes recruiting new members but also includes organizing fun events for our members and faculty at large.
- Grievance – This involves contract enforcement. We need a team of faculty members to help reason through potential contract violations and develop solutions in concert with University administrators.
- Communications – This includes creating our Newsletter and maintaining our website.
- Elections and Nominations – This committee handles the elections for UFF positions but also for other committees such as P&T, Sabbatical, and Professional Leave.
Ad hoc committees may also be formed.
Elected positions are also a great way to get involved and learn more about what is happening across the SUS. Thesw positions include:
- Vice President
- FEA Delegates
From UNF – UFF Collective Bargaining Agreement 2014-2017,
Article 18 – Performance Evaluations, 18.4(c) (emphasis added)
(3) Service as UFF-UNF President, service on the UFF-UNF bargaining team, or as an official UFF-UNF grievance representative shall be recognized as important service, but shall not be otherwise evaluated.
(4) Service Rating Structure.11 All ratings will be based upon a comprehensive review of the faculty member’s service contribution based on the metrics in Article 18.4 (c)(1), (2), and (3).
- A rating of Meets Expectations may be attained by a faculty member fully participating in departmental activities; serving on at least one departmental, college, University, or UFF-UNF committee; working constructively and collaboratively with colleagues and committee members; making meaningful contributions to the faculty member’s professional society/association(s); submitting the required annual self-evaluation portfolio by the required deadline; and maintaining the professional decorum set forth in Article 10.3 Academic Responsibility of Faculty Members.
We thank the UCF chapter of UFF for providing a template for this memo.
UFF is a member of the Florida Education Association (FEA), which represents 137,000 teachers in Florida. Additionally, we are members of two nation-wide unions, the National Education Association (NEA) and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), representing millions of teachers.
The National Education Association (NEA) recently launched a challenge to the US Department of Labor about the poor treatment of contingent faculty at public universities and the inability of many of these faculty to qualify for unemployment benefits. In a June 2015 letter to Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez, the NEA cited a recent report about contingent faculty by The Atlantic:
- Adjunct faculty earn a median of $2,700 for a semester-long class, according to a survey of thousands of part-time faculty members.
- In 2013, NPR reported that the average annual pay for adjuncts is between $20,000 and $25,000, while a March 2015 survey conducted by Pacific Standard among nearly 500 adjuncts found that a majority earn less than $20,000 per year from teaching. Some live on less than that and supplement their income with public assistance.
- A recent report from UC Berkeley found that nearly a quarter of all adjunct professors receive public assistance, such as Medicaid or food stamps. Indeed, many adjuncts earn less than the federal minimum wage.
- Unless adjuncts work 30 hours or more at one college, they’re not eligible for health insurance from that employer, and like other part-time employees, they do not qualify for other benefits.
Laura McKenna, “The Cost of an Adjunct,” The Atlantic (May 26, 2015), available at http://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2015/05/the-cost-of-an-adjunct/394091/.
NEA Statement on Contingent Faculty
“There is a recent societal trend toward the use of contingent employees. Higher education must not become comfortable with that trend and should resist its application on campus. Administrations are increasingly hiring professionals into marginalized positions — and decreasing the numbers of tenured and tenure track faculty — to the detriment of those so marginalized, the institution, and the profession.” Red more (link to http://www.nea.org/home/34762.htm)
AAUP-AFT protest for negotiated part-time lecturer contracts
Caroline Fredrickson, “There is No Excuse for How Universities Treat Adjuncts,” The Atlantic (Sept 15, 2015), available at http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2015/09/higher-education-college-adjunct-professor-salary/404461/
Thanks to UCF-UFF for providing much of the text for this memo.
The Florida Auditor General’s Report No. 2016-175 Financial Audit (March 2016) (page 43) reveals that UNF computes the total pension liability by assuming that UNF employees (including faculty) receive an annual increase in salary of 3.5% (including an inflation adjustment of 2.6% percent). The result is that the total amount put into “reserves” is based on an estimate for a raise, even when all faculty do not receive a raise. These allocations to pension liability lock up recurrent funds that are no longer available for other uses at UNF.