10/08/2010

Seminole State Faculty Throw Their Lot with the Union

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By a vote of 115 to 67, full-time instructional faculty, librarians and counselors at Seminole State College of Florida voted Oct. 5 for union representation. They elected to affiliate with the United Faculty of Florida/FEA/AFT/NEA.

In the unit of 198, the turnout of 92 percent was telling, says Michael Hoover, interim president of UFF-Seminole, who adds that the college's president even referred to that mandate in a letter she sent to the campus community after the vote.

Although faculty had attempted to organize in the past, this recent effort took fire because of the energy of younger faculty and professionals, says Hoover. They were increasingly uncomfortable with how the administration dealt with the work of faculty-based committees. "The administration did not give serious consideration to committees' recommendations and findings," says Hoover. This was part of a broader problem of employees not feeling they were being treated with professional respect. Such an environment permeates all aspects of work, and throws into question how much faculty and staff can rely on governance vehicles like the faculty senate and faculty handbook.

"Faculty feel the union will provide us with a more equitable seat at the table," Hoover says. "We've tried to stress the potential for being able to work together—differences are what led to the movement to begin with."

UFF-Seminole becomes the 25th bargaining chapter of the UFF/FEA/AFT/NEA. The state affiliate represents nearly 23,000 faculty, staff and graduate employees in higher education institutions (public and private, two-year and four-year). On Oct. 12, the state labor board will mail ballots for an election of department chairs at Florida International University. [Barbara McKenna, Michael Moats, Tom Auxter]

October 8, 2010