In recent weeks, parts of the University of Florida (UF) have closed for nearly a full work week—once due to Hurricane Irma and again due to the campus visit by white supremacist Richard Spencer. While many of UF's employees were compensated, the University has refused to pay its employees classified
as OPS, or “Other Personnel Services”, for the involuntary time off. All told, many of UF’s lowest-paid employees were, in a little over a month, denied hundreds of dollars of pay through no fault of their own, while the University pocketed these lost wages, amounting to several hundred thousand dollars.
This decision highlights UF's unfair treatment of its OPS employees, whom it dubiously refers to as “temporary,” despite the fact that many of them have worked faithfully for UF for many years. OPS workers receive no benefits—not even contributions to their Social Security accounts. Many of them live paycheck-to-paycheck and below the poverty line. Consequently, even small cuts to their pay mean real hardships in their day-to-day lives. As one worker commented, “Having that much time missing from your paycheck means either late bills or no money for food.”
Call to action:
We call on UF to pay their OPS workers for days missed through no fault of their own. Further, we urge UF to formally define the classification of “temporary” worker, and convert any long-term positions into more secure permanent jobs with a living wage and the benefits enjoyed by the rest of its employees. UF can no longer claim to be a preeminent institution when it exploits a legal fiction to deprive some of its lowest paid employees fair compensation and benefits.
Our publicly-funded and highly regarded University can do better. With continued pressure from OPS workers, students, and local residents who support workers’ rights, UF will do better.
We are launching a petition effort to present to UF decision makers to show community support for the OPS workers.