The UFF-UF Bargaining Team is happy to announce that we recently finished negotiating the new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) for 2021-2024. Please read on for details about the contents of the new CBA as well as information on when and how you can vote to ratify this agreement. 

We started bargaining this CBA in March 2019. Twenty-six months of negotiations resulted in changes to more than twenty articles and appendices, including dramatic changes to Article 21 (Other Leaves), Article 26 (Outside Activities and Conflict of Interest), and Appendix G (UFOLIO Electronic System for Disclosure and Review of Outside Activities and Interests). 

Overall, the new CBA represents a net improvement in working conditions for in-unit UF faculty. The 2021-2024 CBA: 

  • Provides eight weeks each of both paid parental and medical leave
  • Allows non-tenure-track (NTT) faculty whose contracts aren’t renewed to appeal the decision to their dean. 
  • Requires departments to create NTT-specific promotion guidelines and create an optional progress-to-promotion process for NTT faculty
  • Provides retirement compensation for 9- and 10-month faculty employed by UF over the summer 
  • Puts limits on working hours and responsibilities for K-12 faculty at P.K. Yonge

Unfortunately, the new CBA also includes setbacks that our team was unable to stop. The most significant of these is the requirement that faculty on 9- and 10-month contracts report select outside activities, even when not on appointment.

To learn more about the new CBA, please review the table below, which summarizes the changes to each article of the CBA. You can also find the full text of the 2021-2024 CBA here. Please consult both documents and let the UFF-UF Bargaining Team (uff-uf-bargaining@googlegroups.com) know if you have any questions or concerns.

2021-24 CBA Summary of Changes

Article-by-article differences between the 2017-19 Collective Bargaining Agreement and the proposed 2021-24 CBA

Articles

Changes

Article 1:
Titles and Headings

  • No changes.

Article 2:
Recognition

  • No changes.

Article 3:
Management Rights

  • No changes.

Article 4:
UFF Rights

  • Article opened during negotiations; negotiations produced no changes.

Article 5:
Payroll Deduction

  • Stylistic changes.

Article 6:
Consultation

  • No changes.

Article 7:
Maintenance of Benefits

  • No changes.

Article 8:
University of Florida
Regulations and Policies

  • Stylistic changes.

Article 9:
Bylaws

  • 9.1(d) and 9.2(f): Requires that all units review bylaws, propose revisions, and submit revisions to UF and UFF-UF between 2021 and 2024.

Article 10:
Academic Freedom

  • Stylistic changes.

Article 11:
Nondiscrimination

  • 11.1(b): Revises language on UF and UFF's role in assuring equal employment opportunity.
  • 11.2(b) (5) (a-c): Incorporates university regulations on sexual / romantic relationships between faculty and students into CBA, exempting faculty and students whose relationship predates their arrival at UF.
  • Other stylistic changes.

Article 12:
Appointment

  • 12.1(a): Expresses UF and UFF's support for efforts to assure candidate pools include candidates from historically underrepresented groups.
  • 12.4(i): Places a three-year limit on the duration of visiting appointments.
  • Other stylistic changes.

Article 13:
Non-Renewal

  • 13.2 (c): Requires UF to provide non-tenure track (NTT) faculty with a reason for non-renewal and allows NTT faculty to appeal non-renewal to their dean.
  • 13.4 (b): Changes the grievance timeline in the event of non-renewal from 60 to 45 days.
  • 13.6 (c): Prohibits non-renewed faculty from consideration for promotion and forecloses further professional development opportunities (including professional development leaves).
  • Other stylistic changes.

Article 14:
Assignment of Responsibilities

P.K. Yonge Assignments:

  • 14.11(b): Redefines P.K. Yonge (PKY) faculty appointments as a 10-month rather than 42-week appointment
  • 14.11(b): Adds 4 teacher work days and 1 post-planning day to PKY faculty appointments.
  • 14.11(d)(2): Limits weekly contact time for PKY elementary school faculty to 1,515 minutes.
  • 14.11(d)(2): Exempts general education PKY classroom teachers from supervising students before the school day or for more than 15 minutes after dismissal.
  • 14.11(d)(3): Stipulates that PKY elementary faculty may be expected to escort students to the lunch serving line.
  • 14.11(d)(4): Designates one teacher workday and two early-release Wednesday afternoons for PKY Elementary Fall Family Conferences.

Scheduled Meetings and Planning Time for P. K. Yonge Faculty:

  • 14.12(a)(1): Reserves 2 of 7 planning days prior to the start of the PKY academic year for full-day professional learning and school improvement activities.

Other:

  • Other stylistic changes.

Article 15:
Office Space and Safe Conditions

  • Article opened during negotiations; negotiations produced no changes.

Article 16:
Travel

  • No changes.

Article 17:
Summer Appointments

Compensation:

  • 17.3(c): Makes 9- and 10-month faculty with summer appointments at UF eligible for retirement compensation.
  • 17.3(d): Exempts individual directed study courses, graduate student supervision, and off-book courses from pay rates specified in this article (while stipulating that faculty may still receive payment for this work).
  • 17.3(e): Allows individual colleges (and faculty committees within them) to determine payments for low-enrollment courses, off-book programs, UF Online, and studio courses.
  • 17.3(f): Allows 9- and 10-month faculty (excluding PKY faculty) who, for 3 or more consecutive years, derive more than 30% of their income from summer teaching or employment in their department to apply to convert their position into a 12-month appointment.

Article 18:
Evaluations

University Criteria for Annual Performance Evaluations:

  • 18.5(a): Adds supervision of graduate students to UF's criteria for annual performance evaluations.

Department Clarifications of University Criteria for Annual Performance Evaluations:

  • 18.6(c): Allows department chairs and individual faculty members to agree to expand the period over which the faculty member's performance is evaluated from one year to up to three years.

Annual Evaluation Process:

  • 18.7(c): Changes the due date for faculty to submit their annual report to their chair from March 20 to April 15.
  • 18.7(d): Changes the due date for committees and other individuals to submit information relevant to an annual evaluation from April 15 to May 15.
  • 18.7(f): Changes the due date for a chair or director to send faculty members their annual evaluation from July 1 to July 15.
  • 18.7(f): Stipulates that faculty may grieve their annual evaluations between the date of the evaluation's presentation and August 31 of the same year.

Sustained Performance Evaluation:

  • 18.8(f): Adds specificity to the process of creating a performance improvement plan.

Article 19:
Tenure and Promotion

Definition and Policy:

  • 19.1(a)(3): More clearly states that decisions about tenure and promotion shall be based on the same process and procedure.
  • 19.1(b)(9): Identifies the relationship between University criteria and departmental / disciplinary clarifications in determining standards for promotion.

Criteria:

  • 19.5(b)(1): Adds "laboratory, field, clinical, and performance instruction" to the types of instruction recognized as part of a faculty member's academic service.
  • 19.5(c): Stipulates that, to be promoted, NTT faculty with an assignment exclusively (or almost exclusively) in one of the three categories of academic service must demonstrate distinction in that category alone.

Changes in Criteria for Tenure and Promotion:

  • 19.6: Gives UFF-UF the right to bargain, rather than simply discuss, any changes in tenure and promotion criteria.

Non-Tenure Track Progress Toward Promotion:

  • 19.8: Requires departments that employ NTT faculty to develop NTT-specific promotion criteria; NTT faculty must be permitted to vote on these criteria.
  • 19.8: Requires departments that employ NTT faculty to develop a progress-to-promotion review process; NTT faculty must be permitted to vote on this process.
  • 19.8(a): Allows NTT faculty to decline to participate in the progress-to-promotion process.
  • 19.8(b-f): Outlines mandatory elements of the progress-to-promotion process.

Initiation of the Tenure or Promotion Review Process:

  • 19.9(f)(3): Adds a service narrative to the list of elements in the Tenure and/or Promotion Dossier.
  • 19.9(c)(1): Allows faculty applying for promotion or tenure to respond, in writing, to the written assessment of their department's tenure and/or promotion committee; requires the committee to review the applicant's response before voting on tenure and/or promotion.
  • 19.9(c)(2): Prohibits department chairs or directors from participating in the formal vote on a faculty's member's application for tenure or promotion; instead stipulates that the chair or director’s letter of evaluation shall count as their vote.

Tenure and/or Promotion Decisions:

  • 19.11(f): Requires the UF President or President's designee to explain why a faculty member was denied promotion.
  • 19.11(g): Establishes confidentiality guidelines for documents and discussions related to tenure and/or promotion; empowers members of tenure and promotion committees to report any potential violations that occur during the committee's proceedings.

Article 20:
Sabbaticals and Professional
Development Programs

  • 20.3(a): Omits language describing a policy change that took place during the 2018-2019 academic year.

Article 21:
Other Leaves

This article was completely overhauled during negotiations. Key changes are as follows:

Family and Medical Leave Entitlements:

  • 21.6: Simply states that UF complies with the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) rather than recapitulating the details of FMLA in the CBA.

Parental Leave:

  • 21.7:
  • Replaces the borrowed parental leave program with 8 paid weeks of paid parental leave.
  • Enables new faculty in their first 12 months of employment to supplement their 8 paid weeks of parental leave with an additional 8 weeks of borrowed leave.
  • Establishes guidelines on how frequently and under what circumstances faculty can take this leave.
  • Forgives any leave balances associated with the previous leave program.
  • Allows either party to reopen the portion of the CBA related to paid parental leave during the life of the 2021-2024 CBA.

Paid Time Off (PTO):

  • 21.9:
  • Collapses sick and vacation leave into the single category of paid-time off (PTO).
  • Reduces 10- and 12-month faculty's leave accrual rate from 10.769 hours every 2 weeks to 10 hours.
  • Limits a faculty member's total amount of accrued PTO to 480 hours, stipulating that any leave accrued above that 480-hour threshold will be transferred to a medical leave account, accessible under circumstances identified in 21.10(b).
  • Identifies the circumstances under which faculty must provide documentation to certify unplanned PTO.


Medical Leave Account:

  • 21.10(a):
  • Creates a paid medical leave program, which extends up to 8 weeks of paid medical leave after they have first used 80 hours of PTO.
  • Establishes guidelines on how frequently and under what circumstances faculty can take this leave.
  • Allows either party to reopen the portion of the CBA related to paid medical leave during the life of the 2021-2024 CBA.

Other Types of Medical Leaves:

  • 21.11(c)(1): Allows UF to require a medical examination, demonstrating that a faculty member is incapable of performing their assigned duties, before the faculty member has exhausted sick and medical leave (the previous CBA allowed faculty to exhaust their leave before submitting to a medical examination).

Personal Leave:

  • 21.13(a)(4): Allows PKY faculty, under clearly defined circumstances, to take leave immediately preceding or following a holiday.

Other:

  • Other clarifications and stylistic changes.

Article 22:
Intellectual Property

  • No changes.

Article 23:
Other Faculty Member Rights

  • No changes.

Article 24:
Salaries

  • 24.4(b) and 24.4 (e): Changes the dates associated with mandatory salary negotiations.
  • 24.4(d): Indicates that faculty appointed to the University Term Professorship shall finish their appointed terms and receive the full $15,000 amount associated with the program; specifies that, should the program be reinstated, in-unit faculty shall remain eligible.
  • 24.7(b): Specifies that any difference between performance adjustments for PKY faculty and any general raise shall be paid across the board.
  • 24.9(b): Requires that UF include faculty members’ contract length in its annual salary report to UFF-UF and notify all in-unit faculty about the reports availability.
  • Other clarifications and stylistic changes.

Article 25:
Benefits

  • 25.9(a)(6): Stipulates that retired faculty may be charged fees lower than those charged to non-retired faculty for the use of UF recreational facilities.

Article 26:
Outside Activity and Conflict of Interest

This article was completely overhauled during negotiations. Key changes are as follows:

  • 26.2: Includes clearer definition of key terms related to outside activities, conflicts of interest, and conflicts of commitment.
  • 26.2: Requires faculty on 9- and 10-month contracts to report select outside activities when not on appointment.
  • 26.4 and 26.5: Limits how long UF can take to evaluate potential conflicts.
  • 26.6: Requires UF, when it denies an outside activity, to specify in writing how and why the activity corresponds to the CBA’s definitions of conflict of interest and conflict of commitment.
  • 26.9: Creates an expedited grievance procedure which allows faculty members to context UF’s denial of outside activity or specified conflict management plan.  
  • 26.12: Provides clearer guidance on   innovation inducement cash prizes, including guidance on how faculty should financially structure their participation in these prizes and what share of these prizes goes to faculty members and UF, respectively.

Article 27:
Disciplinary Action and Job Abandonment

  • No changes.

Article 28:
Grievance Procedure and Arbitration

  • No changes.

Article 29:
Access to Documents

  • 29.1: Allows UF to request clarifications from UFF-UF regarding why UFF-UF has requested access to documents under this article; subjects any disagreement regarding the relevance of a document request to the established grievance process.

Article 30:
Layoff and Recall

  • 30.4: Encourages UF to consider the normal hiring cycle of employees receiving a layoff notice in an effort to facilitate successful transition/relocation.

Article 31:
Totality of Agreement

  • No changes.

Article 32:
Severability

  • No changes.

Article 33:
Amendment and Duration

  • Sets the duration of the new CBA from July 1, 2021 to June 30, 2024

Article 34:
Copies

  • No changes.

Article 35:
Definitions

  • No changes.

Appendix A:
Position Classifications in the
Bargaining Unit

  • No changes.

Appendix B:
United Faculty of Florida (UFF-FEA-NEA) Sample UFF Dues Deduction
Authorization Form

  • Updates UFF's address in Tallahassee.

Appendix C:
Grievance Form

  • No changes.

Appendix D:
Notice of Arbitration

  • No changes.

Appendix E:
PKY Salary Schedule

  • Increases annual adjustment from $400 to $500 for grandfathered PKY faculty; increases these faculty members' evaluation adjustment from $100 to $200.
  • Increases all PKY faculty's base salary from $33,750 to $38,000.
  • Increases PKY faculty’s annual salary credit from $500 to $600.
  • Increases the "Effective" annual performance adjustment from $500 to $600, and the "Highly Effective" annual performance adjustment from $675 to $775, for non-grandfathered PKY faculty.

Appendix F:
P. K. Yonge Developmental Research School Faculty Salary Supplements

  • Increases salary supplements for 30+ activities; creates 2 new activity supplements; eliminates 10 activity supplements.

Appendix G:
UFOLIO Electronic System for
Disclosure and Review of
Outside Activities and Interests

This article was completely overhauled during negotiations. Key changes are as follows:

  • Incorporates the structure and content of UFOLIO into the CBA
  • Requires UF faculty to use the UFOLIO system to report outside activities and possible conflicts of interest

After more than a year of bargaining, UFF-UF and the University of Florida have concluded negotiations on the portions of the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) pertaining to outside activities and conflict of interest. These portions of the CBA include Article 26, which governs outside activities as well as conflicts of interest and commitment, and Appendix G, which stipulates how faculty should disclose outside activities and potential conflicts.

As a result of these negotiations, the revised Article 26:

  • Includes clearer definition of key terms related to outside activities, conflicts of interest, and conflicts of commitment
  • Limits how long UF can take to evaluate potential conflicts
  • Requires UF, when it denies an outside activity, to specify in writing how and why the activity corresponds to the CBA’s definitions of conflict of interest and conflict of commitment
  • Requires faculty on 9- and 10-month contracts to report select outside activities when not on appointment

The revised Appendix G:

  • Incorporates the structure and content of UFOLIO into the CBA
  • Requires UF faculty to use the UFOLIO system to report outside activities and possible conflicts of interest

Please read this report for a fuller description of both the history and outcomes of these negotiations. If you have any questions about the revised Article 26 or Appendix G, please email the UFF-UF Bargaining Team at uff-uf-bargaining@googlegroups.com. And please keep an eye out for information on the CBA ratification vote, when you will have a chance to approve or disapprove these articles and the rest of the new CBA.

In April 2021, UFF-UF will hold elections for the following positions: 

UFF Senators: 24 seats
Delegates to the Florida Education Association: 12 seats 

UFF-UF Chapter Officers                                 
     President                                  
     1st Vice President
     Vice Presidents (4 positions)
     Secretary
     Treasurer

The Elections Committee—Steve Kirn, Leah Rosenberg, and Renata Serra —invites nominations for these positions. You may nominate yourself or another member by completing this simple form online (link).

Please send (self-)nominations by 5 pm March 31, 2021.

For Officer positions, you will be asked to submit a brief (50-100 word) position statement.

Description of duties can be found on here. 

Dear Colleagues,

As a third generation military veteran, I salute each and every one of you for the courage, creativity and corazon (heart) that you have demonstrated during this stressful semester. Many of you have been forced to change your teaching modalities several times since last March. Those of you who are librarians, counselors, classroom teachers and unit administrators have faced epic challenges in reconfiguring work spaces, resources and service to the people of Florida in ways that keep students, staff, and faculty safe and sound. 

To echo Becky Pringle, president of the National Education Association, who honored us with her presence at yesterday’s joint UFF/GAU virtual speak out, it did not have to be this way. Unfortunately, the University of Florida has chosen to make decisions that have made our work lives more stressful and less safe. However, it is not too late for UF to change course, to listen to reason and to rediscover the joys of shared governance at all levels. 

At this week’s speak out titled  “Faces of the Pandemic,” we insisted that teachers, instructors, counselors, librarians, researchers, etc., etc., are the ones most qualified to make decisions related to their ability to engage in teaching, research, and service in the most effective and safe modes possible. This powerful message was amplified at “Faces of the Pandemic” by UF undergraduates, graduate students, numerous faculty and members of the broader community. 

Apropos of “Faces of the Pandemic,” I am writing this message to share with you the five joint demands that UFF-UF and GAU-UF made during this week’s virtual speak out. I hope that you will join me in sharing these ideas and their rationales with colleagues, administrators and members of the public. 

These demands are based in the work experiences of UF instructors and staff who are risking their lives and health this semester. As most of you know, UF has decided to act contrary to all other universities in our state—and against the example of most other universities in our nation—and has been trying to forcing many of our colleagues with preexisting health conditions into teaching F2F. Demand Number 1 flows from this fact and it is: 

Instructional faculty and staff should be scheduled for vaccination immediately. UF has a moral obligation to do this because the administration has forced instructional staff and faculty into F2F situations. Courses that can be taught online should allowed to remain online until a majority of faculty, staff, and students are vaccinated. Teaching faculty and student-facing staff should be prioritized for vaccination, as has been done for public school instructors and staff in other states.

Allow faculty to teach in the modes that work best for their own courses. Instructors can make more informed choices on the best modalities in their discipline than administrators, and their expertise should be respected.

Expand accommodations to work remotely based on known predisposing factors. Accommodations should be based not on disability but on factors related to negative outcomes from Covid-19, such as heart disease, lung disease, diabetes, and advanced age. Consideration should also be given to applicants whose spouses or dependents have such predisposing factors.

Use the UF Safety App for safety, and the evaluation and grievance systems for instructional concerns.  Through decades of joint governance, we have established, vetted systems for reporting student concerns with teaching; it is inappropriate to bypass these procedures with an anonymous, unilateral, and unvetted “snitch” function, designed to effect neither safety nor quality.

Restore the proper role of faculty in shared governance, per the UF Constitution and our collective bargaining agreements. Decisions regarding instructional modes must be made jointly with faculty, and rationale for administrative directives must be transparent and provided in writing. The spring f2f mandate was neither, and is a violation of trust between administrators and faculty/staff.

In closing, I assure you that we are not alone in our struggle for a safe campus. At “Faces of the Pandemic,” people came from across the state and nation to express their concern and solidarity with us. Becky Pringle, president of the largest labor union in the United States, the National Education Association, was our key note speaker. Karen Morian, president of the statewide United Faculty of Florida, read testimony from our faculty impacted by UF’s actions during the Global Pandemic. Our dear colleague Bonnie Effros, former director of the UF Center for the Humanities, and now a faculty member at the University of Liverpool in the UK, sent a message of solidarity delivered unanimously by the University and College Union at Liverpool. 

Please let UFF-UF know how we can best serve the interests of our members and the broader community. I encourage you to get involved in one of the union’s many committees. Staying active in defense of each other’s lives and livelihoods is a great way to state connected with colleagues and new friends. Finally, I invite you to attend UFF-UF’s next Council meeting on Monday, February 8 at 1pm.

In Solidarity,

Paul Ortiz

Want to get involved?

1. Contact President Kent Fuchs and the Board of Trustees
Phone: (352) 392-1311
Phone: (352) 273-0569
Email: president@ufl.edu
Email: ufbot@ufl.edu

Copy UFF so we can track our campaign! (membership@uff-uf.org)

2. Share your outrage over UF’s decision to risk the lives of faculty, staff, and student on social media, with the hashtags:
#StopTheSpread
#StopTheSpreadUF
#PeopleOverProfitUF

3. Make a video detailing your experience with COVID and UF and share it on social media, tagging:
@uff_uf
@uf_gau
@NEAToday
@AFTunion
@UF
@PresidentFuchs

WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 3, 2021 8:30 AM

SPONSORS    

UNITED FACULTY OF FLORIDA – UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA CHAPTER (UFF-UF)

GRADUATE ASSISTANTS UN ITED – UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA (GAU-UF)

 UNITED FACULTY OF FLORIDA STATEWIDE (UFF-STATE)

FLORIDA EDUCATION ASSOCIATION (FEA)

EVENT DETAILS

Please attend a joint SpeakOut and News Conference on Wednesday, February 3, 2021 at 8:30 am.  This will be available as both a Zoom meeting and by live-stream, although we request Zoom registration and participation for media. 

This SpeakOut will feature a number of teaching faculty,  graduate teaching assistants, UF staff and students describing their experiences – and challenges – during the Spring 2021 semester at UF.  This event is an personal experience-based follow-up to a SpeakOut event conducted in Fall 2020 that defined specific concerns and demands regarding the University of Florida Face-to-Face Teaching Mandate for Spring Semester 2021. Many of these demands were — and continue to be — minimized or denied by UF.

There will be an opportunity for media Q&A as part of the program.

Speaker list and additional information are available on request and will be distributed after you register.

REGISTER HERE

EVENT REGISTRATION CONTACT:

Ashley Nguyen, membership_coordinator@uff-uf.org, 941-539-7957

UFF-UF AND GAU OFFICER CONTACTS:

Paul Ortiz, President, UF Chapter of United Faculty of Florida (UFF-UF) president@uff-uf.org   Phone: 831-334-0131

Bobby Mermer, President, UF Chapter of Graduate Assistants United (GAU-UF). president@ufgau.org  Phone: 407-914-8107

STATEWIDE CONTACT:           

Candi Churchill, Executive Director, United Faculty of Florida (352) 281-7454, candi.churchill@floridaea.org

The United Faculty of Florida’s first priority is preserving jobs. In fact, we have strong protections against layoffs in our Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), and we have a proven track record of preventing layoffs during times of financial crisis, such as 2008.

But 2020 is not 2008. Earlier this year, UF introduced the idea of instituting a furlough policy in the expectation of major cuts to the university’s budget. But these cuts never materialized. UFF-UF therefore demands that the University tie its furlough plans to demonstrated fiscal exigency. 

To date, UF has failed to demonstrate anything of the sort. Instead, all available indicators suggest that UF’s financial position is excellent:

  • The University plans to hire 100 new faculty as a part of its AI initiative 
  • It has set a new university record with over $900M in annual research funding 
  • The UF Foundation’s investments are performing incredibly well 
  • The University’s asset-to-liability ratio currently sits at 4-to-1 (when 1-to-1 is considered adequate)
  • UF has enough carryforward state E&G funds (the revenue stream that pays most faculty members’ salaries) to weather even a 20% cut to this funding stream 
  • Many political watchers expect new federal stimulus to state and local governments, with provisions that prevent drastic cuts in any category including higher education

Given the University’s sound financial health, UFF-UF suspects that the proposed furlough policy is about administrative prerogative rather than financial need: a strategic effort to use concerns over the pandemic’s financial fallout to expand administrators’ authority.

We hear our members’ concerns about the potential loss of wages and benefits associated with furloughs. We hear our members’ concerns about how fairly furloughs would be allocated and by whom.  And we understand that, if there is demonstrated need, we should prioritize furloughs over layoffs.

In such an event, we want to ensure that: 

  • UFF-UF has a say over when furloughs are implemented and who is impacted  
  • The highest-paid employees bear the highest percentage of cuts 
  • Employees making under a specified minimum salary be exempt 
  • Cuts are instituted uniformly across colleges and units.  

We stand strongly opposed to any use of furloughs aimed at subverting shared governance or implementing surgical cuts.

graphic reading Solidarity not Austerity, from Academic Workers Against Austerity

DATE:            October 18, 2020

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

UF Faculty, Students, Staff and Community Oppose Face-to-Face Mandate for Spring 2021

WHAT:            JOINT NEWS CONFERENCE – OPEN TO THE PUBLIC

WHO:            

  • Paul Ortiz, President, UF Chapter – United Faculty of Florida (UFF-UF)
  • Bobby Mermer, President, UF Chapter – Graduate Assistants United (GAU-UF)
  • Dave Arreola, City Commissioner (District III) Gainesville, Fl
  • Tom Auxter, Associate Professor, Department of Philosophy, UF
  • Ken Cornell,    County Commissioner (District 4), Alachua County, Fl
  • Rachel Hartnett, Graduate Teaching Assistant, Department of English, UF
  • Michelle Jacobs, Professor, Levin College of Law, UF
  • Sheryl Kroen, Associate Professor, Department of History, UF
  • Rachel Khoury, First Vice President, NAACP, University of Florida
  • Sarah Louis, President, NAACP, University of Florida

WHAT:          JOINT NEWS CONFERENCE

WHEN:          Tuesday, October 20, 2020 – 11:00 a.m. (EDT)

WHY:             Demand a safe and healthy learning/working environment at the University of Florida

HOW TO REGISTER: https://forms.gle/961zee4YSPqdgtas8

GAINESVILLE, Fl. The University of Florida (UF) is mandating a significant increase in face-to-face courses in the Spring 2021 semester, with a stated goal of matching the pre-pandemic number of class sections. Plus, UF set a deadline of October 19 for faculty and graduate assistants to apply for federally mandated COVID-related accommodations for next semester. 

UFF-UF and GAU-UF demand that all faculty, graduate assistants, and staff be given the option of remote teaching/working but especially those who are or may be at an increased risk for severe illness from the COVID-19 virus or who live with an individual at increased risk for severe illness from the virus. Furthermore, Federally-mandated accommodations for those with certain health conditions can be requested at any time. The imposition of an October 19 deadline is too limited a time frame to reasonably secure supporting medical documentation and is misleading to faculty, staff and graduate assistants who may believe they cannot request COVID-related ADA accommodations after this date.    

CONTACT:     Candi Churchill, UFF Field Staff, UF Chapter of United Faculty of Florida (UFF-UF), (352) 281-7454, candi.churchill@floridaea.org

What are my rights and obligations as an employee?

Your rights and obligations as a member of the UFF bargaining unit are codified in our Collective Bargaining Agreement, which covers topics including academic freedom, discipline, and the right to safe working conditions. All of these are potentially in play during the spring 2021 transition to face-to-face classes during the COVID emergency.

To learn more about your right to safe working conditions versus your obligation to refrain from “insubordination,” consult this UFF MEMO: Right to refuse unsafe working conditions


How do I apply for accommodations due to my health?

The UF Office for Accessibility and Gender Equity is responsible for processing Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accommodations for those identified as at increased risk for COVID by the CDC.

Information and accommodation request forms are available here.

ADA requests for accommodation may be made at any time. If an accommodation request has been denied, you can appeal the decision. There is no limit to the number of times you can appeal. The appeal/”grievance” form is available here.

The Accommodation Request Form gives a list of medical conditions and asks you to check any “for which you self-identify,” along with an option to check “Other.” This is not a comprehensive list of conditions that may put you at risk. You should visit the CDC website to see the full list of conditions that are known to, or might, present an “increased risk of severe illness” from COVID infection. If any of these apply to you, check “Other.”

We have been told that accommodations are being considered holistically.  Faculty should therefore list ALL possible risk factors — including age, conditions on the CDC’s “might be at risk” list, and any other health issues that make teaching face-to-face during the COVID pandemic untenable — on the Accommodation Request Form and, if necessary, on the appeal form.

Question 3 on UF’s Accommodation Request Form lists some “possible accommodations” that you may request. This too is not exhaustive, so you should describe the accommodation you consider to be appropriate, given your particular circumstances. 

Some colleagues report that their healthcare providers have refused to fill out the “Accommodation Request Medical Certification Form.” The providers cite patient privacy and other concerns. If your provider does this, apply for an accommodation anyway. The ADA office will work with you to find appropriate documentation to support your request.

The Medical Certification form asks your healthcare provider to declare whether or not they consider your condition to be a “disability.” However, your condition need not be defined as a disability in order for you to receive a COVID-related ADA accommodation.


I don’t qualify for ADA accommodations, but I don’t want to teach face-to-face. Do I have other options?

Yes. Other leaves include Family Medical Leave (FMLA) and paid sick leave. More information is available here.

You can also apply for an Alternate Work Location through UF’s HR.


How do I file a grievance?

A grievance is a formal complaint made by a faculty member about a violation of the Collective Bargaining Agreement.

If you are a UFF-UF member, and you feel that your contractual rights have been violated, contact our grievance team at grievances@uff-uf.org.

Additionally, if you have a meeting with a supervisor that you feel may be related to disciplinary action, contact our grievance team at grievances@uff-uf.org.

UFF-UF Grievance Form


Faculty speak out

Read our REPORT: Faculty Feedback: Furloughs & F2F Teaching in Spring 2021

Reopening would force us to fake normalcy, by Aida A. Hozic, Tampa Bay Times, October 15, 2020.

UF’s return plan is premature, hazardous, by Norman J.W. Goda Gainesville Sun October 14, 2020.

Sign the PETITION: Demand Gov. Ron DeSantis protect our colleges and universities


updated January 14, 2021