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United Faculty of Florida, Spring 2007

January 11, 2007

Grade Changes

One of the perks of membership in the United Faculty of Florida is a set of free subscriptions to publications of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and the National Education Association (NEA). One of these is the AFT's American Educator, a quarterly that covers issues in education. In the Winter 2006 - 2007 issue, there was an article about how educational standards are undermined when faculty rights are compromised.

Woodrow Wilson Senior High School (home of the Tigers) is one of the stronger high schools in Washington, D.C.: in 2004, its students included five Presidential Scholar candidates and four National Merit finalists, and 70 % of the graduates said that they intended to go to a four-year college. Alumni include Warren Buffett, Ramsey Clark, and Roger Mudd.

On June 9, 2002, the Washington Post reported that history teacher Erich Martel had looked at nearly three hundred records of students graduating in 2001, and found 29 that "appeared to have been improperly inflated" as the Post put it. When the Post contacted the teachers involved, the teachers of eleven of the students said that the grades had been raised without their knowledge -- much less their consent -- and the teachers for the other eighteen cases declined to comment.

Wilson High is unionized, and the contract forbids the administration from peremptorily -- much less secretly -- changing a grade. The principal said he was mystified. Union officials claimed that teachers are under a lot of pressure to change grades, and that the grades are usually changed by principals. And union officials noted that the principal's predecessor had changed grades -- leading to grievances in which the union prevailed. In one case, a teacher discovered that a grade had been changed from an F to a D+, and when the teacher turned it back to an F, it reverted into a D+ again.

Then on August 27, 2002 the Post reported that a probe into grade changes at Wilson High had been widened to look at all Washington D.C. High schools. Three of the grade changes were the result of students forging signatures. But most of the changes were unexplained, complained Erich Martel, although the school system's chief investigator said that part of the problem was that employees had initially entered grades incorrectly. One assistant principal was disciplined for improperly changing a grade, and the grade policy now posted at Wilson High's website reads, "A student or parent who believes that an improper grade has been assigned should contact the assigning teacher. Only teachers are permitted to change grades."

In his classic How to Lie with Statistics, Darrell Huff notes that one way to tell if statistical errors are really errors is to see if there is any bias in the errors. Random errors are, after all, inevitable. But the problem Martel was complaining about was that the errors tended in one direction.

Martel reviewed the episode, and subsequent events, in his article on Protecting Academic Standards. Martel had spent the 2001 - 2002 academic year preparing a report which (on the advice of an attorney) he labeled as a whistleblowing report when he presented it to the administration. When nothing happened, he gave a copy to the Post, which ran with it. Subsequently, the administration hired an accounting firm, which in 2003 reported that there were irregularities but that the record-keeping was in such disarray that it was not clear what had happened.

Martel grew disenchanted with the administration's response -- "Five Years Later, Nothing Has Changed" -- so he went over new records and compiled another report, saying "I found dozens of examples of credit being given twice for one course, course credits being inflated, required courses never being scheduled, students transferred from failing classes to night school without notifying their teachers, and other serious violations." Ninety graduating students in the class of 2006, said Martel, had such irregularities, and, "At most, a handful of these students could have legitimately completed the requirements necessary to earn a diploma." The response of the administration was to remove Martel from teaching the Advanced Placement American History course, a demotion that the union is now fighting.

Naturally, this brought the Washington Post back into the picture. The administration is conducting another audit, and the Post did some number-crunching of its own, concluding that Martel's students did unusually well in history Advanced Placement exams and grumping that Martel's demotion didn't make sense. This was not the ideal time for Woodrow Wilson High to advance plans for converting into a charter school, but they did, and there was some discussion of ... bookkeeping.

Teachers complain about pressures from students and parents for grade changes, commented the Post back in 2002. But administrators may feel the pressure more, for it also comes directly from the politicians who hold the purse strings. And administrators, unlike teachers, do not have tenure. In a cultural climate that regards students and parents as customers -- who must be kept satisfied -- administrators may find it unusually difficult to resist that pressure. A policy that says (a) grades cannot be changed except by a teacher or in a formal grievance process and (b) teachers must be informed of any proceeding to change a grade has the following advantage for an administrator: since the administrator can do nothing except offer sympathy, don't bother to ask.

It is also a reminder of one thing tenure is good for. Without tenure, a teacher is far more vulnerable to these kinds of pressures to keep the customer satisfied.

January 25, 2007

Tenure Workshop

The United Faculty of Florida USF Chapter is beginning a series of members-only workshops in the spring. The first is a tenure workshop January 31, which has already been booked full; the next tenure workshop is on February 9. Topics to be covered:

    * Identifying your 'academic persona' * Using annual reviews and the third-year review to preview your tenure case * Using University and local guidelines to help you make your case * Explaining your research to those outside your field * Identifying appropriate external reviewers * Connecting research, teaching, and service effectively * Addressing potential weaknesses without defensiveness
Again, these workshops are for union members only.

Note: any USF employee in the bargaining unit can join the union simply by filling out and sending in the membership form at ... or by completing a membership form at the start of the workshop.

The next tenure workshop is on February 9, and registration is on-line. UFF does not take a position on the tenure-worthiness of any individual faculty member, but we all have an interest in your being able to put your best foot forward in the process. DO YOUR BEST BY COMING TO THE WORKSHOP.

This is but one of many opportunities provided exclusively to UFF members, so come and join the movement.

The English Language Institute

Last January, the USF administration announced that $ 275,000 in assets were found in the office of the senior fiscal assistant for the English Language Institute (ELI). USF Chief Financial Officer Carl Carlucci told the Oracle that "This was basically a problem of undeposited cash and checks," and Vice Provost Dwayne Smith told the Oracle that "So far, all indications are that there was no criminal activity."

The senior fiscal assistant was dismissed, as were her two supervisors, including Assistant Director for Curriculum and Instruction Barbara Smith-Palinkas, for "lack of attention to (their) management responsibilities." The Oracle reported that the $ 275,000 had actually been found by the two supervisors, but Carlucci told the Oracle that "Clearly this was one where the people didn't supervise it right."

All this came after a somewhat critical state audit of the university, and it didn't help that a month later about $ 185,000 worth of unsent bills were found in ELI offices. In response, the administration announced that it was tightening up financial procedures. While the Tampa Tribune had editorialized that "The accountability for handling money at USF needs to go higher than the three employees who have been fired," there was no announcements of any further disciplinary actions.

Dismissal is a serious matter, particularly if made in the midst of a crisis, when the facts and their implications are uncertain. A hasty dismissal could also entail irregularities in procedure -- after all, if procedures are meant to do anything, they are meant to encourage decision-makers to take a deep breath and wait until the smoke clears.

Assistant Director Barbara Smith-Palinkas filed a grievance on her hasty dismissal, and the result of much discussion between the union and the administration is a quieter resolution that spares all parties further confrontation; in particular, the administration retracted the dismissal of Smith-Palinkas, who is now leaving USF with a clear record. Here is the official statement by our Grievance Chair, Dr. Mark Klisch:

"The USF Chapter of the United Faculty of Florida announces that the University of South Florida has rescinded the disciplinary action and termination of Barbara Smith-Palinkas, Assistant Director for Curriculum and Instruction at the USF English Language Institute (ELI). Ms. Smith-Palinkas is resigning from her university position, effective 2/11/06. No further actions will be taken by either party in this matter. We wish Ms. Smith-Palinkas well in her future endeavors."

The Aftermath

For over a decade, check and cash payments to the ELI accumulated in a filing cabinet until, one day, if we are to believe an account given to the Oracle, two people discovered the situation -- and the administration's response was to fire all three people. No doubt there is a lot more to it than that, but the reports in the Oracle, the Tribune, and the grapevine made some faculty nervous. After all, during the past decade or so, a growing load of bookkeeping duties has been shifted to the faculty. Faculty grumbling over FAIR and grant money management found themselves wondering if ELI served as an object lesson on how the administration behaves when something goes wrong.

The issue was debated in the Faculty Senate, where one senator expressed his concern that the administration might pounce on faculty who got in trouble handling grant money, while another said that any reasonably competent faculty member shouldn't have any problem. Meanwhile, faculty have privately told me that they were worrying about applying for grants because of the consequences of making bookkeeping errors.

The administration's position is that this was an extreme case that ordinary faculty shouldn't worry about. Yet the spectacle was disconcerting, especially for those faculty who have a particular problem with money.
spacer Three years ago, Brendan Burchell of Cambridge University composed a brief report for Egg on
Financial Phobia. Burchell conducted a study in England and concluded that about a fifth of the population suffered from a "financial phobia," which he characterized as a "syndrome which causes individuals to avoid cognitive engagement with the management of their personal finances." Sufferers endure stress and anxiety while working on their finances, resulting in lowered vigilance and occasionally avoidance. Symptoms include procrastinating or simply never computing checking reconciliations (some people simply file or throw away bank statements); in extreme cases, immediate symptoms include dizziness, physical illness, immobilization, and in the long run, lowered quality of life. Burchell warned that the growing array of financial instruments was making matters worse.

Burchell concentrated on people handling their personal accounts; he did not address the problem of someone handling and being responsible for an institutional account. But middle class society is full of otherwise respectable people who simply won't serve as treasurer for the local club, and perhaps some of these respectable people are faculty members. After all, the job description says teach, research, serve, usually nothing about balancing an auditable budget. And indeed, once upon a time, a researcher could compose a grant proposal, get the grant, compose interim reports, and rely on trained staff to handle the budget.

During the past decade or so, an increasing burden of administrative duties has been shifted to the faculty, so much that on July 14, the Chronicle of Higher Education reported that "Scientists Spend Nearly Half Their Time on Administrative Tasks, Survey Finds." The standard lament at this point is that faculty are wasting time that they could be spending teaching or doing research. What is heard less often is that faculty are spending a lot of time doing tasks for which they have little or no training. And institutional bookkeeping is not a trivial task: just ask the School of Accountancy. These additional duties are involuntary, and if no training is provided, the result may be less-than-optimal performance.

Add to this faculty who may have insecurities about keeping books. Financial-phobes may wonder, for example, what happens if I stupidly assign more money than I have to some line item? What examples do I have of the administration's view of mistakes (or phobic behavior)? Well, in one case, the administration had a very public attack of the screaming meemies...

Except for those of us with budget accounts in our job description, we were not hired to perform the administrative duties that are increasingly foisted upon us. The inefficiencies and phobias are warnings that the shift in responsibilities are not in the university's best interest. It is true that the administration is in a sandwich: the state is increasingly unwilling to pay for administration, and the labor must be done. So the job is foisted on faculty in the hope that it can be done for, well, for free. In the long run, that is a recipe for disaster.

The Grievance Process

So what does one do if disaster strikes and the administration gets the screaming meemies? In the Smith-Palinkas case, the union was able to improve a faculty member's next job search by utilizing the grievance process. That is the nature of the game: sometimes one side wins (actually, quite often, the union wins outright in the end) and sometimes it's a compromise.

It is critical to know how it works. The grievance process is smaller and cheaper than the courts (which really don't like to hear academic cases anyway), but it is still a formal and legal operation. It is based on the contract, the Collective Bargaining Agreement. And a "grievance" is nothing more or less than a formal complaint that the contract has been violated.

It is important to notice that it is not a violation of the contract to be unjust or stupid: a grievance is a formal complaint that someone has violated a specific section of the contract, and the form for filing a grievance (Appendix A of the Collective Bargaining Agreement) asks the grievant to name the violated sections. So that is the first thing to do: the legal violation must be identified.

Already, here is a place where the union can help. The union has several "grievance representatives," i.e., fellow faculty members who have volunteered their time (and have had formal training) for assisting colleagues in trouble. You can get help by contacting our Grievance Chair, Mark Klisch.

The contract requires that you file a grievance within thirty days of the time you knew or should have known of the violation. Late grievances are routinely dismissed.

Once the grievance has been filed, there is usually an attempt to resolve the problem informally. Sometimes reason or compromise visits and the whole mess can be quietly resolved. That failing, there is a hearing at the provost's office, where a representative of the provost makes a ruling.

If the grievant does not like the provost's ruling, and if the union thinks that there is a good reason to appeal, the union can move the matter to binding arbitration. This costs the union money and sets precedents, so the union is usually a bit careful about doing this. But sometimes it's the only thing that works.

Like any process, it is slow and concerned with details, but that discourages haste and encourages perspective. In the long run, process is better than caprice. But it works only if you know how it works, just as your rights have substance only if you know what they are and how to defend them. Remember, you are not alone, and we can do together what you cannot do alone.

There are many resources on grievances. For example, if an employee (within a bargaining unit) has a reasonable belief that a meeting with a supervisor may lead to disciplinary action, that employee has the right to have a union representative participate: for details, see this AFSCME site. And there should be "just cause" for disciplinary action: see this University of Missouri site.

February 8, 2007

Chapter Elections

Every year, the USF Chapter of the UFF elects its four elective officers (the president, vice president, secretary, and treasurer) and its varying number of representatives (this year, fourteen UFF senators and seven FEA delegates).

(There are other appointed positions -- the Chief Negotiator (and the Bargaining Team), the Grievance Chair (and the Grievance Committee), the Membership Chair, the Publicity Chair, and the Government Relations Chair.)

During the last few weeks, union members nominated union members to run for these positions, and soon the ballot packets will be mailed to all USF UFF union members at their home addresses. EACH MEMBER OF THE BARGAINING UNIT WHO WAS A UFF MEMBER AS OF JANUARY 31 SHOULD RECEIVE A BALLOT: IF YOU DO NOT RECEIVE ONE BY TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 13, CONTACT THE ELECTION CHAIR, GREGORY MCCOLM, AT .

The ballot packets will be in 9-1/2 x 11 envelopes, and contain:

  1. instructions on a yellow sheet,
  2. a ballot on a blue sheet (with races on BOTH sides),
  3. descriptions of candidates on (both sides of) three white sheets of paper stapled together,
  4. one small blank envelope to hold the ballot, and
  5. one regular sized envelope addressed to UFF, with a PRINT NAME and a SIGNATURE line on the upper left hand corner.
Fill out the ballot: notice you can write in someone's name and vote for that "write-in candidate," however only UFF members may be elected. You are to vote for at most one candidate in each of the four executive races, for up to thirteen candidates in the Senate race (the chapter president is ex officio a senator), and for up to seven candidates in the delegate race. (In the Senate and Delegate races, you may write names and cast votes for those write-in candidates, as long as you do not go over the limit on the number of votes.)

Here are the offices you are voting on.

The President is the chief executive officer of and chief spokesperson for the chapter. This includes representing the chapter to the state office of UFF, overseeing the USF office, etc.

The Vice President assists the president.

The Secretary takes minutes and maintains other records as the chapter directs.

The Treasurer pays the bills.

The UFF Senators represent USF at the (usually two annually) statewide meetings of the UFF Senate, in April and September. The UFF Senate is the legislative body of the UFF.

The FEA Delegates are part of the UFF delegation representing UFF as a union local in the annual meeting of the Florida Education Association Delegate Assembly, which is the legislative body of the FEA. It is a huge assembly, of the largest union in the state.

Once you have filled out the ballot, fold it and put it in the small blank envelope. Seal this small envelope, and DO NOT MARK IT. Put the small envelope in the regular envelope and seal the regular envelope. Then PRINT YOUR NAME CLEARLY on the PRINT NAME line, and sign on the SIGNATURE line. It is now ready to mail.

If you choose to mail by campus mail, just deposit it in the campus mail. If you choose to mail by first class mail, PUT A STAMP ON IT before mailing. ALL BALLOTS MUST BE RECEIVED BY NOON, MARCH 7. Ballots will be counted at the March 9 UFF/USF Chapter meeting at noon in EDU 258. As usual, all union members are invited.

A Code of Conduct

On September 7, the Board of Trustees approved a Code of Conduct for Financial Functions. Presumably, this Code came into effect immediately and, as far as can be seen from the minutes of the Board meeting, with very little discussion (see the minutes).

The Background statement says that the Code is proposed as a regulation to keep us honest (in particular in dealing with real or potential conflicts of interest) and to assure accurate and full reporting of financial transactions. That is to say, the Background statement begins with the implicit presumption that honest mistakes and accidents do not occur, and thus that irregularities arise from wilful misconduct. This presumption permeates the resulting Code.

After a flowery introduction, the Code turns to conflicts of interest. The useful nugget in the Code is the assertion that we employees are governed by the Code of Ethics for Public Officers and Employees, in Title X, Chapter 112, Part III, of the Florida Statutes and by extant USF regulations. Then the Code goes on to list examples of prohibited conduct.

It appears as if the examples listed were extracted from the statutes and the regulations, but (as we shall see) faculty are asked to sign THIS CODE and be responsible for following THIS CODE. That means that what this Code appears to say here, independent of what the laws and other regulations say, is all too likely to be used against faculty.

Among these examples are: "Should not accept or solicit anything of value..." (free texts from publishers? chocolate chip cookies?) although the next example says we can accept gifts of up to $ 100 value from vendors (cookies are okay but not texts): the first two examples are mutually inconsistent, which is not a good sign (hey, mistakes happen!). Further down, we are not permitted to "use or disclose non-public information ... for the personal benefit of themselves or others" (does this mean what we think it means?). And so on. It sounds well-intended, but it is fuzzy enough to permit serious abuses.

The first serious barb is further down, under General Protocol: it seems that anyone who "believes" that such misconduct "has occurred" must report it to the Office of Audit and Compliance. Since it is almost impossible to prove anything about anyone's beliefs, it is not clear what would constitute evidence of a violation of this protocol, but the Administration's past practice suggests that suspicion might do.

The second barb is at the end. By signing the statement, one is not only affirming that one has read and understood it (as might be done if it was to serve an educational purpose) or even abide by it (as one does by signing a contract) but in addition one agrees to hold oneself ("and those who report to me") to "the highest standards of ethical conduct." It is not clear if this is mere fluff or if the Administration has some notion of High Standards that it intends to hold us to. But unlike the rest of the Code, the consequence of violation is specific: "...up to and including dismissal."

And now for some editorial comment.

As mentioned before, the Code's implicit presumption is that irregularity arises from malice. But mistakes happen. This is frequently denied in political circles (one of Alexandr Solzhenitsyn's books was entitled We Never Make Mistakes), and if there is one thing that Administrators and teenagers agree on, it is the perfection of their conduct -- and thus the lack of any need to apologize for anything.

Grownups know better. Indeed, even in medicine, where the consequence of mistakes are more dire than in academic administration, the ubiquity and inevitability of mistakes have become an area of study (see, e.g., a January 29 New Yorker article on the subject); error management and control is now a major concern of hospitals.

A sideways glance at Blackboard, which seems to almost troll for human error, suggests that this view of error has not reached academia. In the 1990s, computer scientist Leslie Lamport warned that the mathematical literature was becoming riddled with errors, and estimates of costs due to computer bugs now run to billions of dollars. There is a growing feeling that error being rife, and error being a part of the human condition, we should be reconstructing the system in order to minimize error. After all, as the noted business analyst W. Edwards Deming contended, when lots of people within a system are having problems, it is time to look at the system.

Administrators reflecting on their own errors might prefer such a public health point of view -- as opposed to, say, conspiracy theories.

One problem with a punitive approach is that it ties up immense resources in blame games while driving heaven knows how much error underground. Thus the systemic causes for the problems are never addressed, and the situation simply gets worse. It is likely that recent financial reporting problems at USF are more the result of inadequate administrative oversight of a rapidly growing university than of lower level venality. With this in mind, promulgating this Code was probably the worst thing that the Board could have done.

Another problem with the punitive approach is that nothing gets done. After all, the one way to avoid making mistakes is to not do anything. Some of my colleagues told me, in the aftermath of the English Language Institute's episode (see the previous Biweekly) that they were afraid to apply for grants. The consequences of a punitive approach to USF's research program could be dire. For more on this point, see the story on the Aftermath of the English Language Institute episode, in the previous Biweekly, also posted at the previous Biweekly.

A look at paranoia and witch hunts past brings up a third problem. By requiring that we denounce each other or suffer punishment ourselves, the Board may be exposing some of us to retribution, harassment, and harm from accused colleagues who are both guilty and a bit nuts, and to lawsuits from colleagues who are ultimately acquitted although we "believed" them guilty and were therefore obliged to accuse them or be fired ourselves.

(All the above editorial comments apply to growing business concerns as well as to academic institutions, which raises the intriguing question of the long-term health of the businesses whose executives now make up our Board. Well, it's probably just an honest mistake...)

Returning from editorial commentary back to the story of the Code...

This Code was Item FL-105 on the Board's agenda, an agenda which did not list the United Faculty of Florida, even though Article 1 Section 3(B) of the Collective Bargaining Agreement requires that "The UFF shall be granted a place on the agenda at each Board meeting ..." Indeed, Article 1 took a beating that day, for Section 2(B) says that "The University shall provide to the UFF an advance copy of any proposed rule or policy changing a term or condition of employment ... at least thirty days (30) in advance of its effective date ..." and in fact, Section 2(D) says that "If any proposed rule, policy, or resolution would modify an express term of this Agreement, the University shall engage in collective bargaining with respect to the change upon the UFF's request." (See the 2004 - 2007 Collective Bargaining Agreement.)

UFF is already grieving its absence from the agenda (ahem!) and it has filed a grievance against promulgating the Code and it has requested that the issue be bargained. UFF is very concerned that this Code will be used in moments of caprice and panic to the detriment of both faculty and the university, and UFF is determinedly opposed to the Code in its current form.

Meanwhile, the Faculty Senate is trying to persuade the Administration that certain aspects of the Code are most unwise, and that the Board should reconsider. At the January 24 USF Senate meeting, after a debate that contained not a word of support for the Code in its current form, the Senate resolved to revisit the issue in its February 21 meeting at 3:05 pm in rooms A, B, C of the Westside Conference Center (thus giving the Administration and the Board a month to think about reconsidering). The Senate has also urged the Administration to return all documents already signed by faculty to the signatories for reconsideration.

What do you do if ...?

All this raises a question: suppose that your supervisor comes to you with a document in which you promise to follow some dodgy policy, and your supervisor demands that you sign it. What do you do?

First of all, you should not sign dodgy documents, so if you are wary or uncertain of signing on to some policy, you can consult the union for clarification and advice. (This helps the union know what's going on, because the Administration is not in the practice of telling us about their more dubious initiatives.) Contact our Grievance Chair, Mark Klisch.

If the supervisor demands that you sign RIGHT NOW OR ELSE, federal law comes into play. In 1975, the U. S. Supreme Court held in NLRB v. Weingarten, Inc., 420 U.S. 251 that "Even where such a right is not explicitly provided in the agreement a 'well-established current of arbitral authority' sustains the right of union representation at investigatory interviews which the employee reasonably believes may result in disciplinary action against him." So if the supervisor explicitly or implicitly communicates an "or else" to a demand to sign immediately, an employee in the Bargaining Unit (union member or not) has the right to demand union representation before the discussion goes any further.

As always, know your rights: your rights are easily violated if you don't know what they are.

February 22, 2007

The Pappas Report

On January 24, Alceste Pappas of the Connecticut based Pappas Consulting Group presented a report, "Proposing a Blueprint for Higher Education in Florida: Outlining the Way to a Long-term Master Plan for Higher Education in Florida," to the Florida Board of Governors. Both a 5-page summary, and a 74-page report have been posted on the Board of Governors' website.

The cover letter says that "We were instructed to be bold and candid during our four-month endeavor" and that the report reflects "the view of the Pappas Consulting Group Inc. without the influences of individual stakeholders or political pressure." Later, they admit that "We are most aware that the observations contained in Section III of this report may be read as criticisms and may be offensive to many," and then that "each of the players will have to make difficult choices concerning the: relinquishing of power; financial choices ... and ... more fiscal discipline." The letter concluded with a quote by Governor Crist on "our challenge." And then the introduction said that this report would serve as "the beginning of a meaningful dialogue among people of good will regarding the future structure of the University System rather than a prescriptive solution."

With all these warnings and caveats, the report must be interesting. And so, after a brief discussion of demographic projections, the ominous Section III (on Observations) claimed that graduate and professional programs have grown (proportionately) more than undergraduate programs, and noted that in a report Pappas composed for North Carolina, "employers were less concerned about the number of graduates than with the education of those graduates. They sought students with highly developed 'soft skills' such as critical thinking, problem solving, ability to work in teams, communication skills, ability to see 'the big picture,' and workplace ethics..." This was the opening salvo for perhaps their major theme: undergraduate education needs more attention.

The competing theme is introduced on page 6: there is no plan of development. They immediately admit that "There has only been one truly coherent master plan in the history of higher education planning" -- California's. And in comparision to California's three-tier system (the 100+ California Community Colleges, which hands out Associate degrees, the 23-campus California State University, which hands out bachelor and a few master degrees, and the 10-campus University of California, which hands out bachelor, master, and doctoral degrees), Florida's system is a free-for-all. The specific complaints:

  • There is a jumble of branch campuses, regional campuses, and joint-use facilities. "In their present form, these sites are undersized and overly expensive." On a larger scale, the alleged seamless K-20 system is also a jumble of disarticulated components.
  • There is a lot of "mission leap," from community colleges handing out baccalaureate degrees to the swift approval of three new medical schools. "These decisions will either prove that Florida is more visionary than any other state or more undisciplined." The report stoops to observe that Wisconsin has only one major research university and Texas only two, thus hinting that the desire of all nine Florida universities to become research universities -- as if Florida was California -- may be a bit unrealistic.
  • This leads inevitably to costs: "...the 'cost' of research actually is greater than the income if true costs are considered..." Florida has either the lowest or second lowest tuition rate (depending on who's counting) and "the current funding system (an enrollment formula) rewards quantity over quality, as it focuses solely on inputs and not outcomes." And the state does not provide very much additional support.
  • Planning and implementation don't occur together, and the report enumerates several episodes of one without the other. On top of it all is an inexperienced Board of Governors, overseeing an inexperienced staff, overarching umpteen Boards of Trustees.
    spacer But it is not the potentially "offensive" observations of Part III that have generated all the noise. It is the recommendations in Part IV. Despite numerous genuflections to political reality, the proposal is that Florida start moving in California's direction.
  • First, create something like the California State University system, directly controlled by the Board of Governors (the report tends to regard the boards of trustees as being in the way). This system would consist of some of the current universities (those that hand out over 85 % of their degrees to undergraduates), together with some new universities. Some of these new universities would be current branch campuses spun off to become free-standing universities; some would be former community and junior colleges; some would be entirely new institutions.
  • Second, more centralized planning of the direction and development of the universities. The report overtly prefers carrots over sticks, and recommends offering incentives to universities to get them to respond. The state should determine its needs (they suggest not only the ever-popular Science Technology Engineering Mathematics -- STEM areas -- but also teaching and nursing) and then, um, reward universities for their ... output ... in meeting these needs.
  • One highlighted need is for students who actually graduate. USF's six-year graduation rate (for baccalaureates) is 48 %, which makes USF fourth after UF (78.7 %), FSU (67.5 %), and UCF (57.1 %). (The national average is 55 %.) Interestingly -- and the report does not go into the implications of this -- the lowest rate was FGCU's at 34 %.
  • There was also an extended discussion of distance learning, although there was little discussion of what it was for or what students would be involved.
According to the Gainesville Sun, the Board's reactions were largely supportive. Chancellor Mark Rosenberg told the Board that "It is imperative that we have a vision and a plan for the next 30 years." Chair Carolyn Roberts said, "We know our university system is going to grow ... The question is, will that growth be by design or by default? Planning for growth by design is the focus of this initiative." And Vice Chair Sheila McDevitt said, "I really wish that everybody in the system could get comfortable so that we can have a conversation and together come to a conclusion that makes sense."

But while the Gainesville Sun reported that UF President Bernie Machen agreed with much in the report, they also reported that many others begged to differ. UWF President John Cavanaugh said, "Given the history of the last attempt at tiering this one's going to have difficulty" -- a possible reference to UWF's role in sinking the last proposal for tiering. But UNF President John Delaney told the Sun that, "I think the objective of reining in 11 universities that want to go their own way, cost be damned, is a good one." The Sun itself was of the opinion that "Here's what's wrong with Florida's State University System: Champaign tastes, beer budget." And USF President Judy Genshaft sent a restrained message to faculty, saying, "It is a good place to start the conversation." In front of smaller audiences, Genshaft was less restrained, and on January 24 she told the Faculty Senate that legislators had told her that there was little support for the proposals.

And now for a few comments.

First of all, it was not the observations that caused the ruckus; it was the recommendations. After all, UCF awards over 85 % of its degrees to undergraduates, and UCF (and Orlando's legislative delegation) is not going to accept lower prestige and lower funding of a second tier institution. In addition, the universities will not like the idea of having their funding be dependent on the number of degrees awarded (not with Florida's median 6-year rate being 44 % -- and the median 4-year rate being 21 %). And the legislature will not like the ideas of raising tuition and appropriations.

(And the restructuring and funding proposals would shift focus away from USF and UCF towards UF and FSU, to the probable detriment to the I-4 corridor initiative, a project not mentioned in the report.)

In fact, so many people were spending so much energy defending their interests against the recommendations in Part IV that no one had time to even comment on the critical and possibly offensive contents of Part III. The dialogue that the consultants had hoped for is getting lost in what is the umpteenth replay of UF and maybe FSU against everybody else.

It is possible that the most serious mistake in the report was to make recommendations. The cover letter admitted that the report was a rush job; what the consultants apparently did not recognize was that a rush job does not lay sufficient foundations for controversial proposals -- especially for proposals quite similar to some that have been rejected in the past.

Setting the proposals to one side, the observations made in Part III (and Part IV) should not be overlooked in the ruckus. There is one collection of observations in particular that may deserve attention, especially since it may augur trouble no matter what the disposition of this report.

As mentioned above, the consultants believe that employers are more concerned about students getting educated than getting degrees. And the consultants say that university funding should be at least partly dependent on outcomes. Now what, pray tell, is an outcome? The report is a little hazy on this, but one thing is certain: baccalaureates awarded within six years are outcomes, no matter how employers valued such outcomes.

USF's student body is gradually getting more traditional -- i.e., younger -- but we are still getting an unusually wide variety of students with an unusually wide variety of goals. These goals are part of the demand that USF sees, but if they are not measured by the state, then USF's performance will be severely underestimated. It would be unreasonable to expect the consultants, in the short amount of time that they were given, to develop an appropriate array of outcomes by which the state could measure USF's performance; it is puzzling that the consultants skirted around proposing that the state devote some effort to such a development.

It is even more puzzling given the attention the report paid to distance learning -- without any discussion of what distance learning was supposed to accomplish and how to measure whether distance learning was accomplishing it. (The unreality of the report is hinted at in the remark that a distance learning course requires minimal maintenance to run -- suggesting that they expect courses to be run entirely by software without teacher-student communication.) (The report also said that new courses of the traditional classroom sort can be developed with minimal labor.)

Outcome-based funding is increasingly popular nowadays, as notions from business schools ooze into public administration. The ideological impulse is clear: if Florida's universities were promised more funding if they graduated more students, then by gum, soon we'll somehow be graduating more students. And perhaps it's true. But this is an example of an outcome whose use in a funding formula can cause all kinds of trouble. If we are going to be facing outcome-based funding, we are going to need more socially useful outcomes to measure.

February 23, 2007

Bargaining Bulletin

The UFF and USF bargaining teams met on Friday, 2/23/07.

What did USF offer today – COMMITTEES, COMMITTEES, and more COMMITTEES.

UFF wants results – not Committees!

Salary Issues
USF: The most blatant, anti-employee proposal by USF is that the additional salary increases will not be effective until the salary article is ratified – and that is not likely to occur earlier than April 2007. WHAT DOES THIS MEAN TO YOU? We employees lose almost an entire year’s salary increase!

UFF: Your union wants fairness for all employees. The details of our proposal are listed later in this report.

Other bargaining issues

  • Course assignment
    USF: The administration has REFUSED for the past 9 months to make a counter-proposal to UFF's proposal to allow an employee to assign the 2 free courses per semester to his/her spouse or child. Its response has been NO, NO, NO.
  • Paid paternity leave
    The administration has REFUSED for the past 9 months to make a counter-proposal to UFF's proposal to grant a 6 month paid paternity leave to an employee. Its response has been NO, NO, NO
  • Shared governance
    The administration has REFUSED for the past 9 months to even discuss the subject of shared governance. The union put forward a document approved unanimously by the USF Faculty Senate and the response has been NO, NO, NO.
  • Domestic partner benefits
    The administration has REFUSED for the past 9 months to make any real effort to find a funding source to pay the premiums for domestic partner health care insurance other than to propose that USF/UFF form a committee to jointly look for such a funding source.

Here are the salary issues in more detail
In addition to the 3.0% salary increase which you already received, and which was secured in no small part by the efforts of UFF, our union proposal is as follows:

  • A pot of 1.40% of salary base (about $1.54 million) to be used to reward meritorious performance based on criteria proposed by the administration – to be effective October 1, 2006.
  • Promotion increases.
  • UNLIMITED discretionary funds for the administration to use for counter - offers, increased duties and responsibilities, extra compensation and the settlement of grievances and law suits.
  • Additional funds equal to 1.0% of salary base (about $1.1 million) to be used by the administration at its discretion.
  • Over the past 2 years, UFF has negotiated a small amount of money to be given to employees to help ease the effect of compression/inversion. Last year, the amount consisted of a pot of .20% of salary base which was awarded in amounts of $1,000, 2,000 or $3,000. The criteria for such increases have always been formula driven based on performance, years of service at USF and distance from the employee's national market salary.
  • UFF realized that many employees are retiring and DYING before receiving any relief from the injustice of compression/inversion. So your union’s present proposal is to have a pot of .10% of salary base (about $110,000 – which is less than the proposed compensation increase for President Genshaft) to be used to raise the base salary of an employee who has an average annual evaluation of 4 or better over the past 6 years and has been at USF for 30 or more years to 80% of the employee's average national market salary based on OSU etc.
  • The balance of the funds remaining in the pot would be given on a pro rata basis to employees who have been at USF for 20 - 29.99 years, using the same performance criteria and average national market salary data, as above.
  • To us, this formulaic approach seems just and reasonable, as it is performance based. This is a small pot of money for employees who have given their LIVES to USF. We think it is fair and just to give an employee with strong credentials and evaluations at least 80% of the employee's AVERAGE national market salary.
  • Why won’t USF agree to this formula? USF has run the salary through a spread sheet and has the names of the individual employees who will receive these increases (to our knowledge this has never before been done in our state for the past 14 years of bargaining). Who are these faculty members who would have their salary raised to 80% of OSU? Here is one - a full professor who is a current Fulbright Scholar, another is a full professor who has written 23 books, 200 articles and teaches 800 students per semester. And the list goes on and on. What is wrong with this picture? Your union formula works.
  • But wait a minute, some of the potential recipients belong to the union, some have sued the university, some have filed grievances for themselves or others against the university, some have questioned university policy, and others have attempted to secure additional benefits for the employees. USF does not believe that these employees are worth fair treatment – UFF disagrees.
Your union believes that our proposal is based on principles of fairness and justice, and we will not compromise these values.

Your union bargaining team:

Robert Welker, Sonia Wohlmuth, Jana Futch Martin, Mark Klisch, Art Shapiro, Steve Permuth

March 8, 2007

The Code of Conduct

What to do if you are being pressured to sign;
a message from
USF/UFF Chapter Grievance Chair Roy Klisch

The Code of Conduct, as described in a previous USF Biweekly, is a tricky device that can put employees on the hook whenever something financial goes wrong. In essence, an employee is asked to sign a statement accepting certain unlimited responsibilities, including the responsibility to report (possible) infractions of others.

The UFF and the Faculty Senate are very concerned about abuses that could arise from using it against signatories, and both the UFF and the Faculty Senate are pressing the Administration to dispense with the current Code.

Meanwhile, what does one do if one's supervisor arrives with the Code (or some other dodgy document) and demands that you sign? It is usually unwise to sign anything with dodgy language, but supervisors can be insistent.

We recommend the following:

  • 1. Decline to sign. Tell your supervisor that you don't agree with the language in the Code of Conduct, and that in any case you can not be held responsible for the actions of another employee. This may be the best course. But if the supervisor is very insistent, the next step is:
  • 2. Ask for the form, so that you can take it home and think about it. (Thinking about it may include contacting the UFF for advice: you may contact Mark Klisch, the UFF Grievance Chair, at .) But if the supervisor wants a signature now, the next step is either:
  • 3A.Strike out the dodgy stuff about reporting on other people and being subject to dismissal and anything else that looks dubious, and write on the form, "In signing this, I do not waive any rights or privileges due me per the Collective Bargaining Agreement" before signing. Or:
  • 3B.Invoke your right as an employee represented by a union to demand that a union representative be present. If your supervisor demands that you sign "or else," that "or else" implies discipline, and under the UFF contract and the Weingarten decision, you have the right to union representation before the meeting goes any further.
If either 3A or 3B is problematic, and you feel you have to sign the Code as is, then sign the statement and contact UFF asap (again, Mark Klisch, the UFF Grievance Chair is at ) to discuss filing a grievance.

Of Bargaining and Emails

On Friday, February 23, the UFF Bargaining Team issued a press release on the bargaining situation. This was an unusual step, for UFF typically follows the traditional approach of bargaining quietly. But the relevant word here was "bargaining," and after several months of attempting to bargain with an Administration that refuses to make counter-proposals on -- or even to discuss -- major items, the UFF Bargaining Team decided that the best step to take (with the ultimate goal being getting good language in the 2006 (!) contract negotiations) was to send out the February 23 release.

The Administration's initial response was to have their bargaining team broadcast a letter, with the sequence of events described in the March 6 USF Oracle article. Very roughly, some poor administrator broadcast the wrong file, so that broadcast was recalled. But unlike the usual sort of recall, this one went through mail folders and deleted other emails besides the recalled one. This generated many faculty complaints, explanations by administrators, and smugness by colleagues who do not rely on MicroSoft and thus did not lose any mail.

The Chapter is going to review the situation carefully, but two things are clear.

One is that the Administration does not take annual evaluations -- the basis of merit raises -- seriously. The current UFF proposal to deal with compression / inversion is to raise very longstanding faculty's salaries up to 80 % of the national average for their rank and discipline -- provided that their average rating over the last six years was "strong." And yet, on March 2, the USF Oracle quoted Vice Provost Dwayne Smith saying, "The union believes that they deserve this raise out of their length of service alone."

Second, we are reminded -- as we should always be aware -- that the computers in our offices are owned by the State of Florida. The emails we send are subject to Florida's Sunshine and Public Disclosure laws, and even our files are vulnerable: the courts have been sympathetic to employers and governments claiming the right to regulate the use of computers that they own. Some employers use software to record every keystroke (or, for less comprehensive coverage, every website visited). And employers who long claimed the right to the contents of an employee's office and desk (especially the employee's files) now claim the right to an employee's computer files.

Meanwhile, returning to bargaining, there is a good story on the bargaining situation in today's Oracle.

The Long-Range Plan

On February 21, USF President Genshaft made a slide presentation entitled "Shaping Our Future, 2007-12 -- Transforming Higher Education for Global Innovation." It expressed a vision: "The University of South Florida envisions itself as a pre-eminent research university with state, national, and global impact, and positioned for membership in the Association of American Universities."

The presentation was apparently abstracted from the current draft of the plan. It expresses arrays of desiderata in its mission ("USF is dedicated to excellence in ..."), values ("The University of South Florida values ..."), and goals, from the general (USF "... will pursue its rising stature as a research university ...") to the specific (USF will "... position itself for membership in the Association of American Universities").

The missions, values, and goals are largely good ones. Excellent teaching, outstanding research, shared governance, transparent accountability and good communication, and of course, it would be nice to get into the AAU. It was not clear how we were to get where we want to go. Further, since much of the success of the endeavor depends on the success of faculty efforts, it was disconcerting to have this plan handed down to us from on high, with the implicit expectation that somehow we faculty would make it all happen.

And so most of the reactions of senate members was that (a) this did not seem to be so much a plan as a set of goals, for which we need ... a plan, and (b) that assuming that success is an evolutionary process of building on past successes, and that faculty know best what the past successes are and how to build on them, it was strange that the report had been composed by committees of administrators and trustees with a sprinkling of token faculty.

President Genshaft and Provost Khator responded by saying that this was but a draft of what would become the over-arching plan: the planning process would trickle down, with successively specific refinements being composed at lower levels, until departments could compose their own more precise plans. At this point the question was asked: how are departments supposed to deal with higher-level plans? Are they supposed to adjust their own plans in order to satisfy the hierarchy?

The articulation of the plans was not the only major issue. Another was administration itself. The Plan envisions using externally measurable metrics generated by respectable organizations (like the AAU). But many of the issues faculty worried about were internal issues, largely administrative. St. Petersburg is worried about libraries. One questioner asked about academic freedom, and several about governance.

There was a lot of time devoted to administration, and there seemed to be a lot of sentiment that administrative problems are holding USF back. President Genshaft admitted that USF was experiencing growing pains. And indeed, when the Senate moved further on the agenda, we saw two examples of administrative problems:

  • The Senate was very unhappy about the Code of Conduct (see the previous article), and Provost Khator said that (a) she had signed it herself and (b) she had strongly advised against it but (c) the Board had insisted on it. Faculty worried that the Code would make it dangerous to have grants, and thus discourage the pursuit of external funding. (It was mentioned that the other Florida universities don't have this sort of code.) This is an example of the danger of a Board that doesn't even listen to administrators, much less faculty.
  • The Graduate School seems to have created a duplicative program in St. Petersburg without even consulting the USF-Tampa department overseeing the duplicated program. The duplication will affect the internal affairs of the Tampa department, which should have been involved in the decision-making process. And the mix-up occurred, as the Dean of the Graduate School explained, because there are really two Graduate Schools -- which have communication problems.
It was remarked that a recent faculty survey showed that faculty were concerned about the way we do business, and that one of the sets of goals -- Goal IV on page 17 of the plan -- addressed largely administrative goals, and taken more broadly, administrative issues could be addressed in a plan.

One point was about time scale: if one wishes to build a great university, one can do it as one would grow an oak, by hiring increasingly strong junior faculty to slowly build stronger departments, all the while building up the infrastructure, so that slowly and by degrees, one finds onesself in a great university. Another approach is to hire a few stars and launch a marketing campaign. There was some concern that the Board seemed to be inclined towards the latter course.

(On page 10, line 366, the plan lists as a goal or strategy, "Establish a salary enhancement program that rewards highly productive faculty ..." The three subgoals sound nice, but that "highly" sounds a bit like yet another discretionary program for boosting stars. One of USF's major problems is its continued hemorraging of faculty who leave for other institutions with, among other things, more rational salary policies.)

For anyone planning to be at USF for the foreseeable future, the Long Range Plan is a serious matter. Certainly if USF aspires to become a great university, it would be advised to look at great universities and look not only at their external statistics (number of doctorates per year, number of volumes in the library) but also how they do things. Do they have university constitutions? At what level is hiring done? Who makes what decisions? And so on.

This is not the first time we have looked at the plan: see the November 16, 2006 article. And the Administration wants comments: send them to . But one thing is for sure: there is more to being a great university than being a member of any association, even an association as distinguished as the Association of American Universities.

March 22, 2007

Election Results

Each spring, the chapter elects four officers and two sets of representatives. The four officers we just elected are:

  • President: Sherman Dorn
  • Vice President: Mark Klisch
  • Secretary: Jana Martin
  • Treasurer: Sonya Wohlmuth
The statewide United Faculty of Florida Senate meets twice a year, and USF is represented by our senators. The chapter president is a senator ex officio. In addition, this year we elected: Marilyn Jean Bartlett, Ilene Frank, Robert Ingalls, Mark Klisch, William Steve Lang (alt.), Jana Martin, Greg McColm, Kathleen de la Pena McCook, Steve Permuth, Art Shapiro, Barbara Shircliffe (alt.), Leslaw Skrzypek (alt.), Paul Terry (alt.), Nancy Jane Tyson, Harry Vanden, Bob Welker, and Sonia Ramirez Wohlmuth

And the UFF itself is a union local of the Florida Education Association, whose Delegate Assembly meets once a year. USF is represented by some UFF delegates, and this year we elected: Marilyn Jean Bartlett, Sherman Dorn (alt.), Ilene Frank, Mark Klisch, Jana Martin, Gregory McColm, Steve Permuth, Leslaw Skrzypek (alt.), Paul Terry (alt.), Nancy Tyson (alt.), Harry Vanden (alt.), and Roy Weatherford.

The final election report will be presented at the chapter meeting tomorrow.

Thank You for Years of Faithful Service

Each year is marked by milestones. This saw the retirement of a long-time union activist, Surendra Singh.

Surendra Singh was a professor of special education, specializing in learning and behavioral disorders. A clinical neuropsychologist, he is a founding fellow of the American College of Advanced Practice Psychologists. A long-standing member of UFF, he served the chapter as president, grievance chair, and senator. More recently, he chaired the UFF’s statewide Contract Enforcement Committee, which oversees the grievance process.

We are grateful for his years of faithful service, and we invite all his old cronies to come join us.

The Employee Free Choice Act

"The maxim of preserving the balance of power," wrote David Hume in 1752, "is founded ... much on common sense and obvious reasoning." Hume was writing of international relations in general (and Britain versus France in particular), but the maxim applies throughout politics. For example, once upon a time, it was conventional wisdom that there was a balance of power between big business and big labor, with big government holding the scales.

But that was long ago, when a third of all American workers were union members. Membership is now down to one-eighth, and we live in a tilting economy. Unions (including UFF) are seeking new members and new bargaining units, and the Employee Free Choice Act, recently passed by the House and now facing a possible Senate filibuster and probable Presidential veto, is intended to facilitate this effort.

But there is more to this proposed law than the legislation. There is a tale of how economies come to tilt.

Postwar union organizing occurred within the framework of the Wagner Act (i.e., the National Labor Relations Act) and the Taft-Hartley Act (i.e., the Labor-Management Relations Act). Union organizers circulate a petition among some coherent group of workers (e.g., among the workers of one factory), and once 30 % of the workers have signed, the National Labor Relations Board (or some similar agency) oversees a "certification" election by secret ballot on the question: Do the workers in that group wish to be represented by that union? If a majority of the votes cast are in favor of union representation, then that group of workers becomes a "bargaining unit," and the union has the exclusive right to bargain and enforce (i.e., pursue contractual grievances on) the contract between those workers and their employer.

We saw this at work a few years ago in USF, but with a modern twist. The petition consisted of cards that UFF asked members of the university bargaining units to sign, and UFF persuaded a majority of faculty to sign in each unit of each university. Two university administrations demanded certification elections, which UFF won at better than ninety percent margins, at which point all the other administrations (save Gainesville) ... voluntarily ... recognized UFF as the union. Many of us were amazed by the spectacle, and what many of us did not realize was the civility and maturity of the administrations' behavior during that entire period. Surprised by that last sentence? Let's look at what has been happening outside the ivory towers.

During the 1950s, when a third of all workers were dues-paying union members, the probability that a given pro-union worker would be fired during a certification campaign -- i.e., during the period between the appearance of the cards (the petition) and the certification election -- varied from one-tenth to one-fifth of one percent. During the 1960s, when union membership first started to falter, the probability slowly rose, reaching a height of 2.7 % in the early 1980s, by which time the media was running obituaries on the union movement and membership had fallen to about one-fifth. (For more, see links at American Rights at Work.)

Firing employees is usually the most ferocious step employers take during these campaigns, and the firing tends to be strategic: a few dismissals of the most prominent pro-union workers -- i.e., of those who are most actively organizing -- will discourage the others. It is difficult to define an "activist," but the Center of Economics Policy Research estimated that since 2000, about one-fifth of all union "activists" involved in certification campaigns were fired (see the CEPR report).

Of course, employers do more than fire activists. Tactics range from threatening to close the facilities to spying on employees to one-on-one meetings with employees, demanding to know how they will vote. The postwar era has seen changes in tactics, and nowadays an employer facing a union campaign no longer calls in the Pinkerton Agency. The call now goes out to "union avoidance" experts who tout their track records (most consultants claim a 90 % success rate and at least one offers a money-back guarantee) in defeating unions in certification elections. Many of these experts aggressively market their product, and it is now an industry amassing several hundred million dollars a year.

Most consultants start with hard sell activities. They create "employee 'vote no' committees" and fancy brochures, and warn that the factory will pack up and leave if the union wins. If the consultant arrives before the cards are filed, the consultant attacks the integrity of the union by warning that union organizers are coercing employees to sign cards, that the names on the cards may be turned over to management, and pressing employees to ask for their cards back. If the petition is filed, the consultant persuades management to withhold information the union is legally entitled to, presses supervisors to pressure employees to vote against the union -- and to pressure employees to join the "vote no" committee -- and call mandatory meetings where employees are told that their jobs are on the line.

Primary targets include employees working as union organizers: most campaigning is done by active employees, for a union typically will not try to organize a bargaining unit unless invited -- by employees who show sufficient determination to make it through a major fight. A few strategic dismissals can cripple a union campaign, and that is why the unions pressed Congress into making it illegal to simply fire activists. But as we noted above, activists get fired. A lot. Other laws against surveillance, interrogation, and threats of dismissal also get broken, and occasionally more entertaining violations like racketeering or obstruction of justice occur. It is all part of what Business Week once called "one of the most successful anti-union wars ever".

And where is the National Labor Relations Board (or similar agencies) in the midst of all this? Not in the midst of it. Labor-management relations have long involved strife, and if the NLRB is supposed to be the referee, it should behave like one. Not that the laws that the NLRB and similar agencies are supposed to enforce have many teeth: a fired worker might get reinstated, but there are few severe consequences to systematic lawbreaking, and consultants have been known to tell their clients that laws are rarely enforced. The most severe consequence is usually for the NLRB to decide that the certification election was tainted, and call a new one. But very often, by that time, employees are very intimidated, and the union loses.

The situation is so lawless that unions adjusted their tactics to avoid certification elections altogether. Starting in the 1960s, unions got in the habit of getting cards from a majority of the employees and then presenting management with a choice: here is a majority already, so recognize us or face a certification election. More mature (or less panicked) managers have come to see "voluntary recognition" as the lesser of two evils. ("Voluntary recognition" is anathema to the union avoidance industry, which strongly urges management fight unions -- and to hire them for the fight.) On the one hand, this shift in tactics was successful: the current odds of a pro-union employee being fired is down to 1.4 % (still ten times that of the 1950s); on the other hand, union membership continues to decline. As Business Week might contend, the unions are losing the war anyway.

What to do? The NLRB and related agencies may be quasi-judicial in theory, but in practice they have grown ferociously anti-union. Readers may remember that in February, 2005, after Florida's own Public Employee Relations Commission (PERC) said it was okay for Jeb Bush to get rid of UFF by reorganising the university system, PERC was rebuked by the court, which said, "PERC must itself comply with statutes it administers...". If the agencies exercise their discretion -- to the point of breaking the law -- in order to slam unions, then one option would be to ... strip the NLRB of its discretionary powers.

Thus the Employee Free Choice Act. The most controversial item was to require employers to recognize the union if it collects cards from a majority of the employees, thus bypassing the certification election. It also imposed time limits on bargaining a first contract once the union is recognized (this is because many managements -- does Allen Hall come to mind? -- are a bit dilatory about bargaining the first contract.) Less controversial are teeth added to prohibitions against, say, firing activists.

The AFL-CIO has pushed hard for this legislation. AFL-CIO President John Sweeney wrote that the survival of the middle class was at stake (the AFL-CIO blog headline read "Employee Free Choice Act Needed to Save Our Middle Class"), and the AFL-CIO posted an array of web-pages calling on visitors to get involved.

There is a lot of opposition, especially among business groups that call the act the "Card Check Act." The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has issued a "Grassroots Alert" for a "Virtual March on Washington to Protect Worker Rights," and has organized a "Coalition For A Democratic Workplace," which warns that "Worker Privacy is Under Assault by Congress" (see their page on the Act). All this bleating irritated a Washington Post columnist into writing that "A proposal to let American workers decide in peace and quiet about whether to join a union has provoked a torrent of crocodile tears from corporate executives," and, "We don't hear companies calling for secret-ballot votes on management decisions or CEO stock options, or to elect worker representatives to boards of directors. Bosses' democratic impulses appear only when workers want to exercise their right to organize."

Nevertheless, some people felt queasy about circumventing certification elections, and had strong feelings about the secret ballot. Editorials read "House Democrats pass labor measure that sacrifices democracy to unions" and "Doing away with secret ballot elections in organizing workers would give labor too much power" and "Trying to nix secret ballots, open debate are signs of organized labor's desperation."

The Grand Rapid Press may have had a point about our "desperation," but not in the way the Press meant. Union members get higher salaries ($ 833 per week average versus $ 642 per week for full-time work in 2006, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics) in more equitable (and rational) salary structures than non-members. Union members are 62 % more likely to have health care benefits and four times more likely to have pensions. Many workers tell pollsters that they would like a union, and the unions would be happy to oblige. The problem is the ordeal of certification, and it is an ordeal because of the lawlessness that the NLRB and similar agencies ignore. It would be different if the NLRB was trying to enforce the laws: all unions would have to do is ask Congress to put teeth in those laws. It is a commentary on the credibility of the NLRB and the Department of Labor that the first major union initiative of a Democratic Congress is to reduce the NLRB to bean counting -- on the theory that hopefully they won't muck that up.

The outcome is uncertain. The bill has passed the House, and is due to arrive at the Senate. There are rumors of a filibuster, and it is unclear whether there are sixty votes to break a filibuster (Vice President Cheney is likely to find virtues in filibustering now). There seems to be a consensus that neither house has the two thirds majority required to overcome the promised presidential veto.

On the other hand, Mr. Dooley once observed that "the Supreme Court follows the election returns." Even if the bill isn't passed, it would help if the NLRB followed the 2006 election returns. Or better yet, the law.

April 5, 2007

Bargaining, Summer & Email

At each chapter meeting, our Chief Negotiator reports on bargaining, and all UFF members are invited to attend. During the last few weeks, two things have come up.

Meanwhile, the bargaining continues.

Statewide Election Results

Every two years, two officers and the various representatives of the United Faculty of Florida are elected by the state membership. The latest election results are in, and here are the newly elected officers of the state organization:

  • President: Tom Auxter, Professor of Philosophy at UF, and
  • Vice President: Michael Moats, Professor of Computer Science at HCC.
And here are the UFF representatives to our state and national affiliates:
  • UFF representative to the FEA Governance Board: Sherman Dorn (USF)
  • FEA Statewide Delegates to the NEA Representative Assembly: Steve Permuth (USF) and Nancy Tyson (USF)
  • UFF Delegates to the AFT National Convention: Tom Auxter (UF), Sherman Dorn (USF), Pradeep Kumar (UF), Bruce Nissen (UF), Paul Terry (USF), and Roy Weatherford (USF)
  • UFF Delegates to the NEA Representative Assembly: Tom Auxter (UF), Maria Bernal-Dobek (Broward CC), Damon Davis (Broward CC), Tom Green (Broward CC), Pardeep Kumar (UF), Catherine Leisek (Broward CC), Michael Moats (HCC), Debbie Nycz (Broward CC), Susan Parramore (FAMU), Steve Permuth (USF), Paul Terry (USF), Nancy Tyson (USF), Victor Uribe (FIU), and Roy Weatherford (USF).
Final score: USF Bulls 10, UF Gators 6, Broward 5, with honors to FAMU, FIU, and HCC. Not that we're keeping score or anything. For more on the state organization, see the
state website.

Changing of the Guard

On April 1, the newly elected chapter officers and representatives took office, and that included our new president, Sherman Dorn, an associate professor of Psychological and Social Foundations in the College of Education, concentrating on student drop outs, and accountability. He maintains a site/blog at , covering his activities and contemporary trends in education.

Professor Dorn has been active in the union for some time, serving as Treasurer and Membership Chair for the chapter, and Vice President of the SUS Bargaining Council for the state organization. He has also served as USF Faculty Senator, FEA Delegate, and on many committees at all levels.

He is succeeding one of the pre-eminent figures in the history of the United Faculty of Florida. Roy Weatherford is a professor of philosophy, with particular interests in epistemology, ethics, and the philosophy of science. He has written three books, numerous articles, and made many scholarly presentations, but it is his service record that is most notable.

An army veteran, he has since served as president of the Florida Philosophical Association and vice president of the Florida AAUP, as acting chair of the philosophy department and as chair of an Institutional Advancement Committee in a SACS re-accreditation review, as USF Faculty Senator and on the Board of Directors of the Harvard Club of the West Coast of Florida, and in many other positions in addition to his service to UFF. His work for UFF included serving as a director of the Florida Teaching Professionals-NEA, member of the Executive Board of the Florida Education Association, member of the NEA Board of Directors, Higher Education Director of the FEA, member of the Executive Board of the Florida AFL-CIO, member of the Executive Board of the West Central Florida Labor Council, statewide President of the UFF, and of course, USF Chapter President during a very dangerous and difficult period.

And how are we doing? USF has one of the most active chapters in the UFF (look at the results of the latest statewide elections, above) and a contract that is used as a model for the other chapters.

Roy is still an active member of UFF, and intends to continue to work for us. We are grateful for his service and support.

April 15, 2007 Extra


UFF-USF - USF Board of Trustees CBA 2006-2007

Vote on Your 2006-2007 Collective Bargaining Agreement at the union meeting on Friday, April 20, 2007, between noon and 1 pm, at Tampa campus in EDU 258 during the regular chapter meeting.

The United Faculty of Florida at USF and the USF Board of Trustees negotiators reached “tentative agreement” on the Salary Article and the Benefits Article of the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) on Friday, April 13, 2007. Additionally, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed that establishes a process to explore the development of a Paid Parental Leave program. All three of these items are posted on-line.

All faculty and professional employees in the bargaining unit are eligible to vote to accept or reject the new CBA. If you vote "yes" to ratify, the new Agreement provisions will take effect immediately. Promotion Increases will be retroactive to 8/7/06, Merit Increases will be retroactive to 10/1/06, and Market Adjustment Increases will be retroactive to 1/2/07. Competitive Pay Increases have already been distributed.

If you vote "no" to ratify, negotiators must return to the bargaining table to renegotiate an agreement which is satisfactory to you. The UFF bargaining team and executive officers urge you to vote “yes” on this new CBA. A large faculty vote will convey to the Board of Trustees that we, the faculty, are seriously interested in our professional futures.

Due to the protracted process of bargaining this contract, timeliness in ratification is important if employees are to receive the salary increases before the end of this spring 2007 semester. For this reason, all voting will take place at the next meeting of the UFF-USF Chapter, from noon to 1 p.m. on Friday, April 20, 2007 at Tampa campus EDU 258.

Much of our past Agreement has remained in place, and the complete text of the proposed changes to the Agreement is available on-line.

The proposed Agreement affects the terms and conditions of employment for Faculty, Librarians, and Other Bargaining Unit Members, and the Highlights are as follows:


  • Competitive Pay Increase: this legislatively mandated 3.0% to base salary has already been distributed.
  • Promotion Increases: remain the same as in previous contracts – all employees receiving a promotion receive a 9% increase to base salary. In addition, promotions to Assistant Prof./Librarian receive a $1,500 increase to base salary, promotions to Associate Prof./Librarian receive a $2,500 increase to base, and promotions to Professor/Librarian receive a $3,500 increase to base salary.
  • Merit Increase: establishes a 1.4% salary pool of the entire in-unit salary base. Eligible employees are those evaluated Satisfactory (3.0 on 5-point scale) or above. It is distributed at department/unit level. The numerical score in each area of the employee’s assigned duty is multiplied by the assigned FTE to derive an overall raw score in each area of assignment. The raw scores are added together to determine the overall performance raw score of the employee. In each department/unit the performance scores are added for all eligible employees. The individual’s percentage of the department/unit’s total performance score is calculated by dividing the individual’s performance score by the department/unit’s total performance score points. Each eligible employee is awarded an amount equivalent to his/her percentage of the department/unit’s pool of money.
  • Market Adjustment Increase (Compression-Inversion): establishes a 0.10% salary pool of the entire in-unit salary base. Eligible employees are those who have been employed at the University for 25 years or more as of 8/6/06, and whose performance over the last six annual evaluations averaged Strong (4.0) or better and whose base salary after the Competitive Pay Increase is less than 80% of the Research I OSU/ARL/other relevant national market salary data. The base salary of each eligible employee is adjusted to the amount that brings his/her 6/30/06 base salary plus the CPI to 80% of the average national market salary but not to exceed $10,000.
  • Additional Salary Increase: the University and the union agreed USF will have the authority to provide an additional salary increase to individual faculty for situations including promotions, verified counteroffers, increased duties and responsibilities, extra compensation, special achievements and market equity, including compression and inversion.
  • Effective Dates: Promotion Increase – 8/7/06; Competitive Pay Increase – 10/1/06; Merit Increase – 10/1/06; Market Adjustment Increase – 1/2/07.


  • The UFF-USF and the University will each appoint three representatives to serve on a Domestic Partner Health Insurance Study Committee to investigate the availability of an insurance carrier to provide the insurance, the coverage options and cost and a non-state funding source to pay the employer’s premium contribution. The study committee shall issue a written report within four (4) months of the ratification of this Article.


  • The UFF-USF and the University will establish a joint committee to develop a proposal for parental leave for faculty who become parents through birth or adoption of a pre-school child(ren). The proposal will seek input from the faculty and will examine issues including:
    1. Who and how many per household should be eligible at any given time?
    2. Duration of leave at any given time.
    3. How many times could a faculty member be eligible during employment at USF?
    4. Effect on tenure clock for pre-tenure faculty who take parental leave.
    5. Provide cost analysis and source of funding, including the use of sick leave and/or annual leave time.
    6. Service to the University of South Florida after parental leave or the consequences if faculty voluntarily does not return.


  • The combined Pay Increases yield a 4.5% raise in base salary, depending on eligibility.
  • Through the Market Adjustment Increase, the union has made significant progress in reducing the negative effects of salary compression and inversion for employees who have given 25 and more years of their careers to USF and whose evaluations reflect strong contributions to the mission of the University.
  • The union proposed the establishment of two important benefits - Domestic Partner Health Care and Parental Leave - that have the potential to have a positive effect on the quality of working conditions, recruitment and retention at USF. These benefits are not yet resolved but the University has for the first time agreed to work with the union to form mechanisms for studying the issues and for making concrete proposals for establishing these benefits at USF.
  • The union proposed that an employee could assign his/her two free courses per semester to a spouse or child. An agreement was not reached but your union will continue to pursue this benefit in the next round of bargaining.

April 19, 2007

Tenure Workshop

While UFF represents all members of the bargaining unit when negotiating and enforcing a contract, UFF does provide special services for its own members. After all, it is the members of UFF who are paying for UFF to function.

One special service are the tenure workshops for tenure-track union members. The next one will be conducted jointly by the USF and New College chapters of UFF on April 25, 9:30 am to 11:30 am at the Jane Bancroft Cook Library (in room 209) at USF in Sarasota. Topics to be covered include:

  • Using your university and local guidelines to help you make your case.
  • Explaining your research to those outside your field.
  • Connecting research, teaching, and service effectively.
  • Using annual reviews and the third-year review to preview your tenure case.
  • Identifying appropriate external reviewers.
This is for UFF members only; there will be membership forms there for those who wish to join the union and then participate in the workshop. You can register on-line.

UFF Senate Meeting

The United Faculty of Florida Senate is the legislative body of the UFF, and it meets twice a year somewhere in central Florida to set policy and plan for the future. Each chapter is allocated one senate seat for each 25 union members of the chapter, so the more members a chapter has, the louder its voice. The chapters fall in four groups: the university chapters, the public college (2-year and 4-year) chapters, the independent (private 4-year) chapters, and the graduate assistants' chapters.

The Senate meets in spring and in fall; it met over the last weekend in St. Petersburg. It began with a sequence of reports by President Tom Auxter and Vice President Michael Moats.

The first subject was membership. USF is the star, with the greatest gain over the past seven months. The membership gains are reflected in stronger contracts (both Broward Community College and New College Florida reported raises of well over 6 % -- and in each of these, a MAJORITY of the bargaining unit are union members). UFF will continue its multi-year campaign to attract more members as part of its effort to get more clout at the bargaining table.

But there are a number of looming problems in Washington and Tallahassee.

  • The Spellings Commission (see the description of their report) had four sets of hearings, including one at Orlando, where Tom Auxter spoke about our generation's failure to take responsibility for educating the next generation: "We seem to be saying that we got the benefit of an education without significant debt, and we got a head start in life given by the previous generation, but we are not willing to incur the expense of giving our own children the same head start." (Auxter's remarks are on-line). Auxter's testimony was supported by students who complained about being saddled with as much as a hundred thousand dollars in debt.
  • The "travel ban" forbidding Florida faculty from using their institutions to work in designated terrorist nations (primarily Cuba) is still in force (see Biweekly article). It turns out that this law disrupted about three dozen research projects, from marine biology (including the decline in the coral reefs) to demographic studies to library acquisitions. The law being a slow machine, UFF has completed its initial preparations and will join the ACLU's legal challenge during the coming week. The ACLU's original complaint is on-line.
  • The Textbook Affordability bill introduced in the Florida House has acquired a companion bill in the Florida Senate, This makes passage a serious possibility, and UFF is looking at the bill carefully. It makes textbooks sold from on-campus stores tax-exempt, and the Senate version provides texts to students that cannot afford them. There are problematic sections of the bill, such as a requirement that a new edition of a text cannot be used unless it "differs significantly" from the old edition -- the issue of the availability of the old edition not being addressed. While the bill does mandate a study of the problem, it also mandates several solutions, which may or may not be helpful. It is not clear what the positions of the university administrations are, but the bill, as written, would cause serious problems in some of the mass lecture courses.
  • Four UFF chapters have domestic partner benefits in their contracts, which gives UFF a stake in a looming Marriage Protection Amendment. In Michigan, a state constitutional amendment banning gay marriage has been construed by a Michigan court as banning domestic partner benefits by public institutions, including universities. If a Marriage Amendment passes in Florida, it might be construed similarly, nullifying gains UFF made in contract language. UFF is beginning plans for what may be a difficult fight. For more on the amendment, see it's website.
We also discussed the growing reliance of contingent faculty in Florida and nationwide; we will look more closely at that issue in the next Biweekly. In addition, the four groups of chapters met in their respective Bargaining Councils. The State University System Bargaining Council is chaired by our own Sherman Dorn, and we heard reports from all the university chapters, all of which have contracts except Gainesville. The rest of us discussed bargaining concluded, bargaining being planned for, and bargaining ongoing.

The next senate meeting will be in early October.

May 3, 2007

A Medley of Latest Hits

Andy Warhol said that some day, each person would be famous for fifteen minutes. And thanks to the World Wide Web, it's coming true. Just a few days ago, Montana's House Majority Leader stormed out of a conference with the governor and snarled that the governor could "go straight to hell." As of April 29, two days after the snarl, the video on had been played 22,844 times, and AP sent the story nationwide.

This is part of the job: anyone who goes on display can expect this sort of thing. But we faculty should remember that we go on display several times a week. And nowadays, the nearest audio-visual recording device is as close as a student's cell phone.

Speaking of cell phones, the top rated video under "professor" in was 36 seconds of an "angry professor" confiscating and hurling a ringing cell phone to the floor: after a year, there are 2,884,406 views (yes, as in nearly THREE MILLION) and 6,911 comments, ranging from the initial "This was at my school, to my friend Joel's cell phone. He was so scared I thought he'd piss his pants" to "Those Damn teachers get way too worked up about cell phones in class. I dont own a cell phone, but if the kid misses anything anyway its his problem. But from what it sounds like, the teacher was not talking about anything importat any" to "I don't care if he misses anything. He was disrupting other kids in class, who were all paying upwards of 6 grand for tuition" to "It's staged. The cameraman had no reason to focus away from the teacher on the student and there was NO reaction from the class at all. No even heads flying back" to a very strange thread about dolphins.

Critical theorists will be delighted to know that this video actually was staged by a professional advertizer (and we should remember that while the camera doesn't lie, it shows only what it's pointed at, beginning when the ON button was pushed and ending when the OFF button was pushed -- and beyond that lies the business of editing). But anyway,, with its 27,800 videos listed under "professor" is only one of many venues which could be displaying your classroom technique in the near future. So here are some legalities and some practicalities.

First of all, you do not have an "expectation of privacy" in a classroom: it's a classroom, after all, and what goes on in a classroom is a standard topic of conversation. On the other hand, you do have the right to restrict the use of recording equipment. This right has been around for a while: it is unlawful to sneak an audio recorder into your classroom, transcribe the lecture into notes, and then sell them. (In fact, it is illegal to take sets of lecture notes and sell them in toto, although students may quote selections to outraged parents and politicians.) On the other hand, this right is not absolute: if a student is hearing or visually impaired, they have the right to technological assistance for following your lecture, and this may include recording equipment.

We saw the result of the legal situation at USF when the Recording Industry Association of America descended with 490 complaints about alleged illegal music downloads. It seems that many students are not fully cognizant of laws that are so easy to violate with new devices. Perhaps the RIAA is dealing with the situation with unbecoming ferocity, but the RIAA is dealing with a real problem.

And that brings us to the practical side. There were 1,430 videos posted under "usf" (lots of sports and music, of course), so we can expect that some indiscrete videos will appear. This brings us to the usual two points.

AN OUNCE OF PREVENTION. We often forget that a syllabus is a legal document; it wouldn't hurt to remind students of this at the beginning of classes. And so we recommend that all instructors add the following to their syllabi for summer classes: "All unauthorized recordings of class are prohibited. Recordings that accommodate individual student needs must be approved in advance and may be used for personal use during the semester only; redistribution is prohibited." And students should know that common courtesy forbids taking pictures -- or videos -- without asking first.

A POUND OF CURE. While many administrators react to crises with a great show of energy, the wisest course is often to do nothing. If pressed, an administrator can make an expression of sober, sincere concern modified by an open-mindedness to reasonable points of view. But with nearly thirty thousand videos posted on "professor" and over a thousand on "usf", it is unlikely that posting a video of a USF faculty member will pose a serious problem (while an extreme reaction to such a posting just might make a university look ridiculous). The same may go for professors as well. If you see yourself on, well, considering the cartoons that students have been carving on desks for the last thousand years, it's just part of the job.

And by the way, have you ever visited

Fifty Percent and Counting

During the past few decades, many businesses cut back on permanent employees and opted to rely more on temps, contractors, consultants, and other contingent workers. Partly it was to save money: permanent employees command benefits (and may be prone to organize unions). Partly it was to increase "flexibility": contingent workers can, in theory, be hired and fired quickly.

In practice, it doesn't quite work out that way. Contingent workers have less of an interest in the long-term health of the company and thus do not save as much as anticipated, while inflexibility is as often a problem of myopic boards and sclerotic administration as of entrenched work forces.

Nevertheless, the fashion has spread to academia. From a recent report by the American Association of University Professors, four snapshots tell a vivid story:

  • In 1975, the statistics were: Tenured: 36.5 % Tenure-Track: 20.3 % Non-tenure-track full-time: 13.0 % Part-time: 30.2 %
  • In 1989, the statistics were: Tenured: 33.1 % Tenure-Track: 13.7 % Non-tenure-track full-time: 16.9 % Part-time: 36.4 %
  • In 1995, the statistics were: Tenured: 30.6 % Tenure-Track: 11.8 % Non-tenure-track full-time: 16.7 % Part-time: 40.9 %
  • In 2003, the statistics were: Tenured: 24.1 % Tenure-Track: 11.0 % Non-tenure-track full-time: 18.7 % Part-time: 46.3 %
From these we can derive two trends:
  • In 1975, we have: Tenured plus tenure track: 57 % % of sum that's tenure track: 36 %
  • In 1989, we have: Tenured plus tenure track: 47 % % of sum that's tenure track: 29 %
  • In 1995, we have: Tenured plus tenure track: 42 % % of sum that's tenure track: 28 %
  • In 2003, we have: Tenured plus tenure track: 35 % % of sum that's tenure track: 31 %
In other words, it looks as if there was a reduction in the replacement rate of tenured faculty, and attrition may have done the rest. See the American Federation of Teachers page on
The myth of the tenured faculty, and the AAUP pages on Trends in Faculty Status, 1975-2003 and AAUP Contingent Faculty Index 2006 for more.

The finances are not hard to fathom. Suppose that a university computes a full-time teaching load to be four courses a semester, or eight courses a year: thus a professor earning $ 60,000 per year is being paid $ 7,500 per course taught. An adjunct paid a third that amount would be a major saving, above and beyond money saved by not paying benefits or for classroom support (like homework graders).

From an adjunct's point of view, the finances are not difficult to fathom, either. If one can get temporary jobs at a few nearby colleges and universities, one could conceivably teach as many as six courses a semester -- and perhaps four in summer -- for perhaps $ 40,000 altogether. On the other hand, for a retiree or an employee of some company (or even a faculty member of another college or university!), teaching a course or two each term could bring a welcome bit of extra income.

As a full-time job, being an adjunct can be quite difficult: eighteen contact hours a week is emotionally demanding, as would be the trips from college to college if one is (as one often is) teaching at several places. Then there is the problem of having no office. On top of this, some adjuncts find that they are invisible to regular faculty. Finally, there is the matter of not being certain of a semester's assignment until 5 pm on the Friday of the first week of classes.

There is a growing concern about the effect of this on students. Traditionally, an adjunct was someone of special experience or distinction who had something valuable to offer. Increasingly, an adjunct is someone willing to do instructional piecework, often without the support (an office, graders, etc.) usually extended to regular faculty. For whatever reason, this seems to be causing pedagogical problems.

Daniel Jacoby, Harry Bridges Chair in Labor Studies at the University of Washington, published a study, Effects of Part Time Faculty Employment on Community College Graduate Rates (see the Nov./Dec. 2006 issue of the Journal of Higher Education, 77:6), in which he concluded that "community college rates decrease as the proportion of part-time faculty employed increases." And the decreases are dramatic.

USF, which has a problem with its graduation rates, should take note.

But there are many differences of opinion about what is going on, and what should be done about it. One step that is being taken by the American Federation of Teachers is its Faculty And College Excellence (FACE) campaign, which begins with the observation that money lies at the bottom of much of this phenomenon, and proposes, among other things, that as a long-term goal, "at least 75 % of the classes in any academic department are being taught by tenured or tenure-track faculty." UFF is working on adapting AFT's model legislation to be appropriate for Florida and the variety of the state's public universities and colleges. One bill was introduced and died in this year's legislative session, and a bill that addresses the problem of contingent academic labor but is specific to Florida's needs, including USF's, will be introduced in next year's legislative session.

The issue is not only financial: it also has to do with the identity of the university itself. Half a century ago, Nobel Laureate Isadore Rabi told incoming Columbia President Dwight Eisenhower that faculty are not employees of the university; faculty are the university. When Rabi said this, he was speaking as a faculty member. But a survey of contemporary dictionaries suggests that the word "faculty" is rather fuzzy. However we resolve the issue of what the word "faculty" means, it is important that this resolution not wind up being something like, "a tiny fraction of the teachers."