United Faculty of Florida-University of Florida Annual Report, 2021-22

In a time of duress which witnessed numerous assaults on higher education, our chapter engaged in an exceptional period of organizing, membership growth and the building of solidarity. Our members’ work on matters pertaining to collective bargaining as well as our support of issues including women’s reproductive freedom, civil rights, affordable housing, intellectual freedom, joint governance, higher stipends for graduate students—among other issues—has been covered in the Washington Post, the New York TimesThe Chronicle of Higher Education, and many other publications. This is very important given that labor is under siege in Florida. We must continue to work hard to cultivate positive relations with media regionally as well as nationally and internationally.

  • Our chapter prevailed on a major grievance involving Critical Race Theory and the ability of College of Education faculty to pursue their research and teaching without interference. This hard-fought victory allowed courses and programs studying race and inequality in public education to move forward. 
  • Winning a faculty member’s reinstatement after they were wrongfully terminated for outside activities.
  • In a time when anti-Asian racism is rampant in Florida, our Grievance team aggressively pursued cases where it was clear that Asian and Asian American faculty were being discriminated against. 
  • Our chapter’s swift and unanimous response to the Fall 2021 academic freedom crisis, when administrators attempted to silence faculty engaged in voting rights testimony against repressive voting laws passed by Florida. 
  • UFF-UF immediately agreed to support the lawsuit filed on behalf of the seven faculty members prevented from giving public testimony on their areas of expertise.
  • UFF-UF forged an approach to academic freedom emphasizing equal education rights for our students, upholding the CBA, and a dedication to intellectual freedom that generations of faculty have fought for. 
  • Not one hour after our Save Academic Freedom @UF Press Conference, held November 8, 2021, the administration relented on the issue of faculty testimony in the voting rights case. 
  • Our COVID Task Force continued to advocate for social distancing, masking requirements, and remote teaching. There is broad agreement in Gainesville that our chapter’s activism made campus safer. 
  • Many UFF-UF members supported a successful “Vote of No Confidence” Faculty Senate resolution regarding UF’s failure to adequately implement COVID safety measures for students, staff, and faculty.
  • Our chapter continued our tradition of coalition building by helping to form the #FreeUF Coalition, composed of students, staff and faculty. This group organized an Academic Freedom Teach-In and has contributed to several op-eds in media promoting the ideas of academic excellence, intellectual freedom, and the rights of college instructors to provide high quality education to their students. 
  • Our Bargaining team continues to fight for equitable raises in an inflationary landscape
  • Our Membership Team pushed chapter membership past 40% for the first time in years and reinvigorated a departmental steward structure.
  • Our Communications committee kept members informed via social media and virtual platforms.  
  • Our Social committee re-booted in-person chapter socials open to all faculty and graduate students to build a greater sense of solidarity.
  • Our chapter held our first in-person Spring Membership Dinner since the onset of the Global Pandemic and distributed numerous awards to faculty for keeping our union strong and campus running during higher education’s greatest crisis in generations. 
  • Created a Faculty Working Conditions Survey with good participation rate and major media coverage
  • Joined other UFF chapters in boycotting the state’s “viewpoint diversity survey.”
  • Our Government Relations committee mobilized members to contact legislators during the legislative session and the committee is now leading our chapter’s GOTV initiatives.

                                  –Submitted by Paul Ortiz, Chapter President, September 3, 2022