UFF-UCF Updates

UFF-UCF Updates

Greetings all, I have some news I want to share with you. Things seem to be changing on the ground, however not at UCF so I wanted to alert you to some important information.

Orlando Sentinel Editorial by Yovanna Pineda

Yovanna Pineda who is an associate professor of history at UCF, a local and statewide leader of our union published an editorial in the Orlando Sentinel about HB 233. Please read over her editorial and thank her for her efforts in informing and engaging the wider community.

Office Hours by Zoom

Many of you have contacted me with concerns. According to current UCF return policies we cannot ask students if they are vaccinated, ask them to wear a mask or social distance themselves. I have gotten emails and read on social media where many of you have asked about our offices and office hours where the space is more confined than a classroom. Mason Cash, a Faculty Senator and Union Senator, asked Interim Provost Johnson about this and the possibility to have office hours on Zoom to mitigate any health risks. You can see the exchange here. Interim Provost Johnson thought it was a good idea and said one “might only consider Zoom office hours” and then said he will “think about it a little harder.” You can email the Provost at provost@ucf.edu or fill out this form on this page.  While he is thinking about the Zoom office hours option he might like to hear your thoughts on this. I know from emails and social media many of you have been expressing an interest in this option. Please let Interim Provost Johnson know your opinion and help him make a decision to allow us all to have Zoom office hours in the fall.

Code Black 

I am sure you all have heard the latest Florida COVID news. If not, Florida’s rate of vaccination is 48.6%, 25th in the US plus Washington DC, there were 21,683 new infections on Friday alone the new highest one day total of infections. And Advent Health Hospitals in the area have went to Code Black which means they are only conducting necessary or life saving surgeries because they are inundated with COVID cases.

UCF has removed the webpage with the COVID triggers from last year that listed the milestones that would have to pass to move instruction and interaction virtual. It would be a great idea if UCF created a new trigger page and policy for the Era of the Delta Variant. It is time to think about what milestones we need to pass for a change in policy.

State Colleges and Mask Mandates

I have gotten emails about changes in mask mandates locally. You might have seen that our local public State Colleges, both Seminole State and Valencia College, have initiated a new mask mandate for all indoor interactions. No masks are required outdoors. This is all a response to the recent trends in COVID and the Delta Variant. When asked by the Orlando Sentinel for comment a UCF spokesperson said there was no change in mask policy at UCF and we (UCF) are in “keeping with guidance from the Board of Governors.” Many of us are applauding the Presidents and administrators at Seminole State and Valencia College who changed mask policy in adherence to the change in CDC policy. Imagine a campus that can implement health and COVID policies without fear of the Florida Governor and Florida Legislature. Those campuses are Seminole State College and Valencia College. Please consider contacting President Cartwright (do so here) and let him know we should be good neighbors and take similar precautions to help protect our campus community and theirs as well. If he hears from enough of you perhaps policies will change at UCF.

UFF-UCF Podcast

Finally if you have not done so check out our most recent podcast episode of the UFF-UCF Podcast. In this episode I spoke with our colleague from the Department of Sociology Jonathan Cox. We spoke about Critical Race Theory and how we can continue to approach this topic in our classrooms and our research. You can subscribe or listen to the podcast here or on our YouTube channel here.

In Solidarity,

Robert Cassanello
UFF-UCF, President

UFF-UCF-The Indoctrination Canard

UFF-UCF-The Indoctrination Canard

As President of our union I would like to state unequivocally that UCF, our workplace, everyone in the bargaining unit, everyone who steps into the classroom or assists those that teach our students are not involved in a clandestine (or overt) scheme to indoctrinate our students. We are professionals and we take our craft and our jobs seriously.

Our Union recognizes this.

Remember too the “intellectual diversity” survey is unnecessary and based on myth. There are some people in the university system who advocate taking the survey. Clay Calvert, a communications and first amendment scholar at the University of Florida, recommends such an action. You can read his interview in Rolling Stone here where he presents his argument. I share this so you can read other points of views.

I respectfully disagree with Professor Calvert. The bias about our public universities as centers of “indoctrination” is baked in the political rhetoric and the legislation. We need to face the fact that whatever the results of such a survey report become will be subordinate to the effort to push this indoctrination narrative, not ameliorate it.

Our Union recognizes this.

According to the legislation there is no requirement to take the survey, we expect UCF to not mandate the survey. Please be assured that we are bound by our Collective Bargaining Agreement. Article 5 enshires us with Academic Freedom. Do not feel bullied in this politicized environment, your rights are still protected in the classroom, in your research as scholars and as professionals.

If you have questions or concerns about how any of this legislation or state education policies might impact you personally please bring them to our union. Email me at president@uffucf.org. We are staying on top of these issues and policies. The first line of defense is to be informed.

In Solidarity,

Robert Cassanello

HB233 Preliminary Guidance for UFF Members

HB233 Preliminary Guidance for UFF Members

Note: You can read the text of the legislation here.

Dear UFF Members and Leaders,

As many of you are aware, HB 233, known as the “Viewpoint Diversity” bill, was signed into law by Governor DeSantis on June 22nd. Key provisions in this bill that affect higher education in Florida are—

  • It mandates annual intellectual freedom and viewpoint diversity surveys for higher ed faculty and students. We do not yet know how these surveys will be structured, nor is there any clear indication of how the survey data will be used.
  • It allows students to record classroom lectures without a requirement for prior notice and without the faculty member’s consent, with specific limitations on where and how those recordings can be used.
  • It provides “anti-shielding” measures that forbid institutions from restricting the kinds of views and statements that students can have access to or observe on higher education campuses.

Various legal avenues are being explored by FEA Legal and UFF Staff; as the surveys, rules, and policies are developed in response to these provisions, we will continue to monitor the legal implications. The mandated surveys (see #1 above) are currently under development by the State University and Florida College systems, and UFF’s officers are meeting with both governing bodies to share our concerns and hopefully influence the design of these surveys. More specific guidance will be shared on these fronts later in July. We will also be sharing guidance on how to respond in contract enforcement, collective bargaining, and campus organizing scenarios. That said, UFF recommends the following preliminary measures for our members who are teaching this summer:

  1. Classroom Instructors should consider recording all of their lectures on their own devices and should maintain their records for several semesters. Such recordings can be made as long as students are given proper notice, which can be accomplished by adding language to a course syllabus stating that the faculty member makes recordings of lectures. Having verifiable records could be helpful in defending against false accusations or sound bites taken out of context.
  2. Remember that “a recorded lecture may not be published without the consent of the lecturer,” and it may be employed only—
    a. “for a student’s own personal educational use”
    b. “in connection with a complaint to the public institution of higher education where the recording was made”
    c. “as evidence in, or in preparation for, a criminal or civil proceeding”
    Recorded lectures used for other purposes may allow the faculty member to seek “damages plus court costs and reasonable attorney fees, with the total recovery not to exceed $200,000.”
  3. You may not forbid or discourage students from recording your classes. Additionally, be sure to follow all campus policies regarding recording of classes. Remember that in most instances, it is better to comply now, then grieve later.
  4. During your lectures, remember that this law amends Florida’s interpretation of rights to free speech expressive activities protected under the First Amendment to include “faculty research, lectures, writings, and commentary, whether published or unpublished” and that “A Florida College System institution or state university may not shield students, faculty, or staff from expressive activities.” Defamatory speech is not a protected form of expressive activity.

The text of HB 233 is attached to this message, and we encourage all members to read it before entering the classroom this summer. Members who encounter any scenarios not covered in our above guidance should reach out to their local UFF chapter leadership with all questions and concerns.

We recognize that this bill has made many of us feel uncomfortable, but a number of its parameters remain uncertain and those that are already clear can be managed. As a union, we stand strongest when we stand together; rest assured that the members of UFF will not be left to weather this storm alone.

In Solidarity,

Andrew Gothard, UFF President
Caitlin Gille, UFF First Vice President


Salaries Update and More

Salaries Update and More

Update on Salaries

As we emerge from the pandemic, I am trying—as I’m sure you all are—to process all that has happened in the past 16 months. I wish to share some reflections from UFF-UCF Chapter Leadership as we continue to put the past year in perspective.

As we reflect, UFF-UCF would like to address salary increases. The chapter’s Bargaining Team introduced a proposal for a 3.5% increase in our base salary in February 2021. You can review all bargaining updates at https://www.uffucf.org/bargaining/ to read the salary proposal.

Both President Cartwright and Interim Provost Johnson have agreed with UFF-UCF that UCF has hard-working bargaining unit members who went beyond the call of duty to teach, research, and labor during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, neither Provost Johnson nor President Cartwright have offered or hinted about potential raises. Below are some reasons why faculty deserve a raise:

  1. UFF-UCF believes our faculty deserve a salary increase because it is long overdue. Our last increase was in fall 2019. Since then we have received no across-the-board raises.
  2. During COVID19, we worked strenuously and are now expected to return to “normal” without any break or compensation for our labor.
  3. UCF has seen yet another increase in student enrollment, up by more than 2,400 students from 2019/20 to 2020/21 (UCF Facts). Owed to the pandemic and hiring freeze, we have fewer faculty teaching larger classes than before the pandemic.
  4.   According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistic, the consumer price index rose 5 percent between May 2020 and May 2021. We are merely requesting a base salary raise of 3.5%. In keeping with the spirit of good faith bargaining, we request to negotiate salary that takes into account cost-of-living, appropriate compensation, and university budgets. (https://www.bls.gov/cpi/).
  5. A pay raise is possible. The new fiscal year begins July 1, 2021. We expected serious budget cuts to state universities as a result of the economic impact from COVID-19 Pandemic, however, the state higher education budget looks better than anyone predicted with funding from federal relief sources.

HB 233

Many of you have been asking about HB 233, the legislation that introduces an “Intellectual Diversity”survey and the right of students to record classroom lectures. UFF is waiting until the details of the various policies emerge. What we know is that the language of the legislation for the survey is not only vague but it also does not make the survey mandatory; it only requires that the Board of Governors (BOG) and each public university create and dispense the survey. The legislation does not compel employees to take the survey. We expect the BOG and UCF to not make this survey mandatory. When more information comes out we will update you concerning this legislation. As to the recording of lectures we also expect UCF to address this concern shortly. When I learn more about this part of the legislation I will update you.

The UFF President and Vice President sent the following announcement out about preparing for HB 233. You can read their recommendations here.

Summer Consultation

Each semester UFF-UCF and the UCF administration have a consultation session to discuss matters unrelated to grievance or bargaining. We plan to speak mostly about the fall return. Consultation will be on July 13th from 9:00am-10:30am on Zoom. For more information and the Zoom link contact me at president@uffucf.org.

UFF-UCF Podcast

We have released Episode 3 of the UFF-UCF Podcast. In this episode we interviewed the President and Vice President of UFF. Please check out the latest “Episode 3-Meet the New President and Vice President of UFF or Did I Miss Another Presidential Inauguration?” You can access the episode on Anchor here or on YouTube here. Please check out our previous episodes as well.

Robert Cassanello
President, UFF-UCF

UFF-UCF-The Indoctrination Canard

COVID #3 MOU Ratification Results

The ratification closed and the results of the ratification of the COVID #3 MOU is below:

Yes – 229
No – 4
Abstain – 2

Thank you to the Elections Committee that oversaw the process of ratification and thanks to everyone who took the time out to vote.

Robert Cassanello
President, UFF-UCF

Salaries Update and More

New Podcast Episode and Reminder

Update-New Podcast Episode:

We have produced a second podcast episode (Episode 2 The Ethics of the Fall Return or Are We Jonathan Swifting Our Children) for our UFF-UCF podcast. You can access the podcast on Anchor or on our YouTube channel here.  Please check it out, share it on social media and subscribe for future episodes.

Reminder-Stewards Program Initiative 

Your leadership team will launch a Stewards Program in the fall. We will be looking for members to volunteer to be a local liaison or point person for the union in each unit/division across campus. What this means is that we will have a designated person in each department, school, and division that can answer questions, communicate with you locally, and assist in keeping members engaged and informed throughout the year.

To provide more information and answer questions about the Stewards Program we will be hosting a Stewards Virtual Town Hall on June 17, 2021 at 1:00 PM Eastern Time.

Register in advance for this meeting:


After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns.

Robert Cassanello
UFF-UCF, President