It was a year ago, Labor Day 2020, when your newly elected leadership team first messaged everyone to let you know the force and power of your collective voice. One year later and we want you to know that our voice is louder and more focused than ever. On this national holiday we reflect on the common good the labor movement brought to the lives of the American worker, including the standardized workday, overtime pay and the right to organize.
I would like us to recognize our own achievements over the past year on this day of reflection. Our bargaining team negotiated COVID MOUs throughout the last academic year and is currently negotiating a COVID MOU for fall of 2021. In the fall of 2020 our bargaining team successfully negotiated a racism and discrimination MOU. Our union was successful in an Unfair Labor Practice charge against UCF in March of 2021 and we worked with UCF to reel back various policies concerning conflict of interest within colleges that violated the Collective Bargaining Agreement. Our union defended us as professional educators and public intellectuals when the governor and state legislators attacked us to score cheap political points and proposed bills to weaken the faculty college and university unions throughout the state. We distributed N-95 masks to all instructors of record including adjuncts and graduate students because during this pandemic crisis we thought it important to be good neighbors and community leaders as state lawmakers and education bureaucrats decided to look the other way during our greatest daily average peak so far in the pandemic. When university leadership remained silent as state lawmakers created a strawman out of critical race theory and demagogued us as “Marxist indoctrination centers,” our union stood up and loudly said “NO.”
Our success over the past year is in direct proportion to your support of our union. You’ve individually reached out to us, attended our town halls to voice your concerns and attended bargaining sessions in solidarity with our bargaining team. Union leadership thanks you all and are in debt to you, your support has made the difference. We expect that support will continue to grow as we build into the next year. I have told our UFF-UCF Council, coming into our second year, that we all helped to build a better union, now our job is to build a greater union.
Before we celebrate prematurely, we in union leadership recognize the pressures and difficult working conditions that have been thrust upon us. We know you all are working during conditions which prevent a return to normalcy. Within the limited and narrow channels we have to operate to enact change we are doing the best we can to address our common concerns. We hope you are taking this Labor Day to rest, spend time with your loved one and have at least one day away from the stress and anxiety of our fall return to normal. When we return tomorrow, our union will be busy advocating for you, addressing your concerns and continuing to build a community of support where our local and state leaders have let us down. This is the job of a union, this is the job of our union.