At the March 21 USF Chapter Meeting (of the UFF), the Chapter
discussed a letter from Marcus Snow, representing the Board
of Trustees, to UFF counsel Tom Brooks.
The letter, dated March 7, stated that the Board of Trustees
recognized the implications of the fact that UFF filed 1,035
CBA petitions (cards), and offered to support voluntary
recognition of UFF as the designated bargaining representative
of faculty within the bargaining unit if UFF filed a
Recognition Acknowledgement Petition.
The letter noted that no university in SUS has officially
recognized the BOR-UFF Collective Bargaining Agreement, but
offered to accept the old contract as a basis for negotiating
the next one (this was the major bone of contention) --- but
the letter was a bit vague on the details.
The letter set Mar. 21 as the deadline for a response, and
stated that if UFF did not respond by the deadline, the USF
Administration would seek a certification election.
After some discussion of recent trends in PERC's decisions,
various parallel developments, and other pros and cons, the
Chapter decided that this was the current optimum, and voted to
file a Recognition Acknowledgement Petition as Snow requested.
On Mar. 21, Google found ``about 8,800'' sites for ``al-arian.''
As usual, this site was number two.
This site began in late Winter, 2002, after UFF (statewide)
President Tom Auxter proposed that the USF Chapter of UFF
maintain an archive on the controversy, in order to aid
USF Chapter President Roy Weatherford asked me,
to be the archivist.
Since I was the Publicity Chair for the Chapter (I produce the
biweekly electronic newsletter and the quarterly hardcopy
newsletter and maintain the web-site), I proposed maintaining
the archive on-line.
An on-line archive would assist scholars, students, reporters,
and just plain folks who wanted to find out what was going on.
There were complications.
First, it consumes a non-trivial amount of time to put up code;
but since UFF arranged for me to have a course release each
semester last year, it was do-able.
Second, the site became quite large (it is now over 60,000 words
and over 1,000 links, the size of a small book), and thus
is difficult for visitors to navigate.
No one seemed to know of any other site dedicated to covering a
controversy in this way: certainly in the Al-Arian controversy,
most other sites are either (a) devoted to the publications of
a single media outlet or (b) devoted to a particular point of
But as UFF is composed of scholars, and since UFF was assisting
Al-Arian in his defense against the USF Board of Trustees, it
seemed as if UFF had to maintain a public image on this issue,
and this site -- providing a wide range of views -- seemed to
provide that image (although the UFF's and the webmaster's point
of view could be discerned by reading editorial comments.)
The situation changed this semester, when the USF Administration
chose not to honor UFF's assignments of course releases.
This was a violation of the contract, but the position of the
USF Board of Trustees is that they do not know if they are
bound by the terms and conditions of the contract, and hence
they are compelled to violate it.
The result was that the time and labor of all UFF activists
suddenly became harder to get, and hence more valuable.
Then on Feb. 27, Al-Arian's attorney announced that Al-Arian
would file a grievance over his dismissal --- but using the
procedure outlined in the New Rules promulgated by the USF
Board to replace the contract.
This is a process that UFF is not involved in, and the USF
Oracle quoted Robert McKee saying that UFF was ``out of the
Under the terms and conditions of the contract, Al-Arian has
until Mar. 28 to file a grievance under the contractual process.
If he did not, it was likely that as of Mar. 29, UFF would no
longer be assisting Al-Arian in any formal way on any front.
At the Mar. 7 Chapter Meeting, the chapter began a discussion
on the question: if it is now more difficult to maintain the
site, and if Al-Arian himself is not making any request for
formal assistance, is maintenance of the site as high a priority
as it used to be?
Since then there has been more discussion, and on Mar. 21, several
proposals were presented to the Chapter.
The proposals rested on two points:
No formal decision was made on the future of the web-site, but
the following proposal won no opposition:
The Al-Arian controversy will generate a lot more news, and
cannot be reasonably covered at the same level with the
resources that the Chapter has for this one of many tasks.
The Chapter needs coverage of academic, employment, and
related issues in a coherent fashion that would assist
This proposal is, of course, only tentative.
We appreciate all comments sent to the
That as of Mar. 29, assuming that Al-Arian does not reverse
his attorney's announcement, news coverage of the controversy
would be restricted to major developments.
As the archivist, I would continue to collect material, but
only post the most significant items.
All pages constructed thus far would remain on-line with
The Chapter will spend the next four weeks considering the
future of the site, based on the needs of the UFF/USF
membership, those of the faculty whom the union represents,
and the community at large.
During the Fall, 2001, the United Faculty of Florida watched the
Al-Arian situation with considerable concern, and UFF expressed
that concern in public statements by USF Chapter President Roy
Weatherford and others, and a
Statement on Academic Freedom.
At that time, public charges made against Al-Arian were rather
nebulous, and typical of charges often made against unpopular
activists (and Al-Arian, an activist, was quite unpopular in
Al-Arian was dismissed on Dec. 19, 2001, and soon UFF was officially
During 2002, UFF provided advice and publicly defended Al-Arian's
rights against the Board of Trustees.
(While UFF has an insurance policy to pay job-related legal expenses
of UFF members, Al-Arian was (according the the insurance companies)
ineligable, for several technical reasons.)
UFF assisted Al-Arian essentially because the proceedings against
him were in violation of the contract (and UFF is always concerned
about deliberate violations of the contract) and because he asked
(and the USF Chapter of UFF has a policy of assisting any faculty
member threatened with dismissal).
The situation came to a head on Jan. 6, 7.
By that time, the Board of Trustees had made it clear that their
intent was indeed, as UFF had long contended, the termination of
the contract (if not the dissolution of UFF).
The contract expired on Jan. 7, and the Board of Trustees refused
to negotiate a successor contract, and refused to recognize UFF.
Al-Arian responded by filing, on Jan. 6, a grievance under the
contract contending that in suspending and banning him indefinitely,
the USF Administration was punishing him.
UFF assisted him in processing this grievance.
The grievance was denied at the Step 1 level a week after he was
indicted, and just as he was fired.
Al-Arian's attorney announced that Al-Arian would file a grievance
--- under new USF rules, and not the contract --- and that
UFF was now ``out of the loop,'' and implicitly supported the
Board of Trustees' position that the terms and conditions of the
contract were no longer relevant.
Al-Arian's attorney did not mention an appeal of the denial of his
Since Al-Arian was fired on Feb. 26, he had until Mar. 28 to file
a contractual grievance.
Now that the deadline has passed, he may not file a grievance under
Since his lawyer's statement, he has not expressed any wish that
UFF continue to assist him in his confrontation with the Board
(He may have other priorities, and UFF deals only with employment
issues, not criminal matters.)
It appears that UFF's assistance has come to an end.
This site was maintained and updated by UFF in part so that people
could find out what was going on in this very controversial issue
that UFF was involved with.
This site required considerable resources to be kept up to date,
and in the midst of a major struggle with the Board of Trustees,
it is not clear that UFF can maintain this site at the same level
as in the past.
Therefore, while past pages will be kept on-line, with stable URLs,
future chronological pages will only list major developments in
The Chapter will revisit this policy at the April 18 Chapter
meeting: all visitors are invited to send their views to
the USF/UFF Webmaster.