USF FACULTY IS FED UP WITH ADMINISTRATION-Andrew Stelzer08/19/04
Students at The University of South Florida begins their fall semester next week, and while the faculty has not declared their intention to strike, they are warning that action will be taken because of the Universityâ€™s presidents and board of trustees unwillingness too grant them a fair contract. WMNFâ€™s Andrew Stelzer was at the Universityâ€™s board of trustees meeting today, and has more on the discontent at USF
ACT â€˜An atmosphere is being created by the board of trustees, the governor, it reflects the attitude in the country,
Bill McCellan is the President of AFSME local 3342; he represents 1600 non-academic employees at the university of south Florida.
anti-employee, pr-corporation, turn the U into a corporate institution instead of a public institution.
While the janitors, engineers, maintenance workers and other low paid employees often have trouble negotiating for fair wages and working conditions at universities, the professors usually are treated more fairly. But according to Roy Weatherford is professor of philosophy at USF and the president of the USF chapter of the united faculty of Florida, thatâ€™s not the case at the 4 USF campuses.
ACT â€œWe have essentially said give us back the contract, they said no we wont, they cant have it both ways.â€?
About 100 professors came from St Pete, Lakeland, Manatee, and Sarasota to the Board of trustee meeting, they were brought by email and phone calls to action. Almost two years ago, due to a restructuring of Floridaâ€™s public universities, the professors contract expired. They formed a new union, which was recognized by the university, but since then 26 negotiating session have not brought the two sides to an agreement. Weatherford says that President Genshaft has refused to meet with him, and last year she released a proposal to the press stating that USF was offering a 12 percent raise to faculty, but the promised raise was basically just a restructuring of the current pay scale.
ACT â€˜The big raise that she said we were gonna get, smoke and mirrors, and the remaining..USF is trying to take our contractual rightsâ€¦â€™
Weatherford, who has been teaching at USF since 1972, says as a teacher he thinks the way the faculty has been treated is insulting to the concept of higher education
ACT â€œOur students are being short-changed in 2 ways..admin is raising tuition..money saved is going ..â€?
Bill McClellan is the President of local 3342 AFSME the staff union??? They represent 1600 University employees, that are not faculty.
ACT â€œWe are going to have an election the university sent out letters saying vote no, its an anti-union campaign, and â€¦Iâ€™m dissapointed that the university is using public money..â€?
Professors Cheryl Rodriguez and Joan Pines
ACT â€œId like to see what happens, this is my first meeting, typically I cant get away. â€˜Clearly were here because were concerned. Its best to see what happens in the is
In the board of trustees meeting that lasted more than 3 hours, this was the only mention of the labor dispute by James Beard the chair of the board of trustees.
ACT â€˜As everybody knows weâ€™ve been in negotiations all summer, this board is very confident.
And the first note of discontent or negativity came when Beshal Ramal, the president of the student body, who is granted an obligatory spot on the board of trustees, was allowed to speak. On a conference call from Northern Florida, Ramal criticized USF president Judy Genshaft, who has been accused of working in cahoots with governor Bush to turn the states public university system into cookie-cutter money generating machines.
ACT â€œA lot of these achievements are misleading..we encourage the board to look at things critically. The perception of the students is not accurateâ€¦.also accessibility, iâ€™ve talked to student leaders who donâ€™t think our president is accessible, the students feel left out. Iâ€™ve been bounced by the presidents office, if I canâ€™t get a meeting, how can anyone else. She needs to be more accessable.
Rob Callahan Is from the American federation of teachers, which is aligned with the teachers union, he says that the fact that several members of the USF administration
ACT â€œIts part of a nationwide trend of corporatization of higher educationâ€¦â€?
More than half of the professors left before their representatives were allowed to speak. Susan Greenbaum the new president of the faculty senate said she was not speaking on behalf of UFF, the teachers union.
ACT â€˜We view faculty governance as not only..we could avoid problems getting into the pressâ€?
Greenbaum proposed that the school be used over the summer, since students and teachers donâ€™t work out in the fields during the summer, which was historically the reason schools went on summer break.
ACT â€œRule 6c410- very explicitly states a faculty will be paid at the sameâ€¦that rule was not a year old until it was unilaterally abrogated by reducing the rate of summer payâ€¦â€?
Finally, Roy Weatherford was allowed to speak
ACT â€˜The last time I spoke to the board I warned that there would be trouble..new union busting attorneyâ€¦
Weatherford addressed the board of trustees,..
ACT â€˜From your perspective you might have hoped that the faculty might realize how seriously you take you role. But instead the ones that left out of impatience or frustration or anger, were impressed by how little you know or hear, the theme of their remarks is that if you repeat the claim that everything is fine thatâ€™s will make it true. Not so. And placing their spokesman and hoping that would make them tired
The UFFs new motto Is â€?no more excusesâ€?
ACT â€˜When the semester starts and they talk to their colleagues, they will be ready for more dramatic action the time for excuses is overâ€¦no more excusesâ€¦clappingâ€¦well we heard what you said and I hope that our two teams of negotiators will get to an appropriate
James beard, the chair of the Board of trustees, said after the meeting that he didnâ€™t understand why Weatherford thought things were so bad.
ACT â€˜Thatâ€™s threatening language you take that seriouslyâ€”he threatens a lotâ€¦union busting lawyerâ€¦I donâ€™t know who heâ€™s talking about..Tim Gonzales handles all kind of stuff. He s involved in lawsuits heâ€™s our outside personnel...things goin well..yeah I suppose
For more information on the UFF labor dispute, logon to www.uffusf.org/
For WMNF news, Iâ€™m Andrew Stelzer