by Alachua County Labor Coalition
The Alachua County Labor Coalition (ACLC) has worked with the UF Faculty Senate, United Faculty of Florida Chapter at UF, Graduate Assistants United, UF Student Government, and members of the community to demand support, dignity of work and equitable working conditions for UF’s OPS workers. OPS are UF’s so-called “temporary” staff, even though many of them have labored at UF for years. These workers lack any job security and receive no benefits: no sick leave, not even contributions to their Social Security accounts.
The campaign started in September 2017, after OPS workers were left with nearly a week without pay, due to Hurricane Irma. All UF workers except the over 15,000 OPS employees were paid for these and other school closures.
Since September, the ACLC has had important discussions on OPS workers, including the over 1,000 people who signed their petition, current OPS worker statements in the white paper “Part-Time Poverty, Hourly OPS Workers at UF,” the editorial Boards of the Gainesville Sun and The Alligator, and an online video highlighting OPS worker distress and featuring concerned City and County Commissioners as well as other members of the community.
The UF Faculty Senate and Student Government have spoken out, together with voices in the region, to ringingly endorse the end of OPS abuses.
UF has long acknowledged its responsibility to be accountable to the entire Gainesville community, as demonstrated most recently by UF’s stated concerns regarding racial and economic inequality in the community. Now it is time for UF to recognize the role that its employment practices play in fostering this inequality.
Now is the time for UF to act in support of OPS workers, in unity with the support from the rest of the UF community. The ACLC will continue working locally and with UF’s Board, the state legislature, even the new Governor, until this issue is addressed and UF’s OPS workers are treated with the dignity and equity that they deserve.