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Letter to the Editor: The Power of Labor at UNF

On the heels of what has been described as a “hot labor summer” gripping the country the likes of which the American public has not seen in decades, the collective strength of workers at the University of North Florida has never been more palpable. Amidst months-long writer and actor strikes, the United Faculty of Florida at UNF (UFF-UNF) negotiates Post-Tenure Review (PTR). Following the Teamsters securing historic wage increases, our membership surges. The bravery of hotel workers joining the picket lines manifests as our faculty show up in record-breaking numbers to collective bargaining sessions. To put it simply: the power of labor across the United States is the power of labor at UNF.

It is no secret that politicians in Tallahassee have targeted education and organized labor. From censoring and compelling speech to prohibiting payroll deductions of union dues, it is clear that elected officials have decided that we are their enemy. But we refuse to hide as our rights are stripped away. We refuse to stand idly by as our students suffer at the hands of those enacting policies who will never suffer the consequences of their own votes. And we refuse to give in to a politics of repression and intimidation.

Over the past several months, we at UFF-UNF have continued to stand our ground. We have advanced your rights at the bargaining table. We have fought for you in the public sphere. And we will continue to do so. Our collective bargaining team will continue to negotiate for fair working conditions and equitable salaries that align with your incredible work. Our grievance team will continue to enforce our contract and ensure your rights are protected. And our leadership team will continue to advocate on your behalf.

Although the words are likely misattributed, the story goes that Mohandas Gandhi once said, “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.” Let me assure you, my friends: we are now at stage three out of four. We are on the precipice of winning, and it is due to your power.

To my fellow UNF faculty: because of you, our union remains strong, and our culture of mutual support endures. To UNF students, staff, and community members: we see you, and we stand with you because we are stronger together. The power of labor is growing across the country, and nowhere is this felt more keenly and seen more clearly than here in the nest. Our solidarity extends — and will continue to extend — across our beautiful campus and beyond.

This Labor Day, remember to thank your union. Because this Labor Day, your union thanks you.

Courtesy of Mark Halley.

Mark Halley, PhD, NIC, CoreCHI-P™, is vice president of the University of North Florida chapter of the United Faculty of Florida (UFF-UNF) and an associate professor of ASL/English Interpreting at the University of North Florida.

Readers are encouraged to submit a Letter to the Editor for publication with Spinnaker. Spinnaker does not endorse any of the contents of a Letter to the Editor. To submit a Letter to the Editor, email [email protected]


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