UFF-FAMU awaits certification decision

Picture of Lee Hall courtesy: famu.edu

The United Faculty of Florida-FAMU Chapter is awaiting a decision on its recertification status amid challenges encountered in the certification process. Despite these hurdles, the chapter remains proactive in addressing issues and is actively engaging with its members to ensure a favorable outcome.

Having surpassed the renewal deadline, UFF-FAMU is now eagerly awaiting a response from the Public Employees Relations Commission (PERC) regarding their application. The chapter’s submission of the bargaining unit list to PERC and the university encountered setbacks, particularly with the inclusion of additional faculty members who do not meet the union’s membership criteria. However, this setback has not deterred the chapter’s determination to find solutions to ensure compliance with the mandated 60 percent membership threshold.

UFF-FAMU President Roscoe Hightower, a professor in the School of Business and Industry, says he has an optimistic outlook amid the challenges, expressing confidence in the chapter’s resilience.

“This whole bargaining unit list thing hasn’t ended what we’re going to do about recertification,” Hightower said.

“All it has done is, given us more opportunity to demonstrate and to show how serious we are about obtaining recertification.”

He also mentioned the chapter’s plans to petition for another certification date, if the result of their application falls short of the 60 percent threshold. According to Florida law instated by SB 256 in 2023, this petition will serve as an election for members of the faculty to vote for a new certification date.

In a recent virtual town hall hosted by UFF-FAMU, featuring key speakers President Andrew Spar from the Florida Education Association and Secretary and Treasurer Frederick Ingram from the American Federation of Teachers, the importance of solidarity and collective action in addressing labor union challenges was underscored. The town hall served as a platform for open dialogue and collaboration, highlighting the chapter’s commitment to engaging with its members and stakeholders.

Furthermore, UFF-FAMU continues to actively encourage faculty to join the union, emphasizing the importance of exceeding the minimum 60 percent membership requirement. By fostering a sense of unity and solidarity among faculty members, the chapter aims to strengthen its position and amplify its advocacy efforts.

However, some faculty may hesitate to join the union due to concerns about the cost. With legislation no longer allowing the institution to deduct dues from faculty paychecks, membership now requires monthly dues, which may appear intimidating to some.

UFF-FAMU member Jeffery Wilkinson says the cost of joining may be one of the other major obstacles for gaining membership, the true purpose of the union still remains the same.

“Some people don’t want to pay the money, or they just don’t make enough. Another thing is they don’t see the value in the union,” Wilkinson said.

“They are a voice, all of us rallying together would be a demonstration so instead of all of us going to the university, we have the union as our representative, as our voice.”

Hightower says he wants people to read the Collective Bargaining Agreement so they can fully grasp what is at stake.

“What we want to do is, No. 1, grow membership and we need faculty as well as interested people to talk about this process with other people,” Hightower said.

“We need to turn this into a regular conversation where people know the facts. We need people to understand what is at risk of being lost.”

Hightower encouraged faculty and interested individuals to reach out to FAMU President Larry Robinson and the Board of Trustees to express their support for UFF-FAMU’s efforts in ensuring fair representation and upholding labor rights.