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Union rally held for faculty, students at Florida Polytechnic University

Polk County

There’s a battle brewing on the campus of Florida Polytechnic University in Polk County, between the UFF and the University leadership.  

UFF is the United Faculty of Florida Union that represents the instructors. Recently, the university terminated three union leaders. According the the union, two staff members weren’t renewed another was let go.

On Wednesday, the UFF held a “Rally for Florida Poly Students and Faculty Voice.”  

About two dozen students and faculty members attended the brief gathering before the Board of Trustees meeting.  

Veronica Perez-Herrera recently graduated from the university and worries about what the union battle could mean for students she used to call friends and classmates.  

“They [the professors] were my mentors. They were the ones who helped me through the university here,” said Perez-Herrera. “I was here for four years and it’s just sad to see it like that.”

A majority of the faculty voted to unionize, hoping for a better work environment.  

Now, some feel that things have only gotten worse.  

Dr. David Foster has been at the university for three years. He now worries about his future at the institution.  

“It’s extremely emotional for us. A lot of us have moved from around the country. We wanted a place with a brand new culture. We wanted something new,” said Foster.  “And to see this type of atmosphere where we can’t discuss at all, these aren’t the reasons many of us came here in the first few years.” 

Florida Polytechnic University President Dr. Randy Avent wouldn’t go into specifics about the negotiations, but says it’s not about money, it’s about philosophy.

 “The union has one opinion on how it should be run and we have a separate opinion,” said Avent, who found it odd the union organized a rally.  

“When we started the collective bargaining agreement, we all agreed that we were going to limit the discussions to the collective bargaining agreement. We’ve held our part of that agreement and it’s very disappointing that the union feels they can go out and negotiate this in public. “

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