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Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Employees respond to UF employer ranking

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While UF ranked among the top 10 employers for public universities, some UF employees believe the title is not deserved.

On April 17, Forbes Magazine released a list ranking large employers that ranked UF sixth among public universities and 19th among all universities. However, some employees disagree.

Bobby Mermer is co-president of UF Graduate Assistants United (GAU), a union representing teaching assistants, research assistants and graduate student instructors at UF.

Mermer said he was confused with the criteria Forbes Magazine used to rank UF. He argued it could be inaccurate if only higher administration contributed to the Forbes feedback.

“Other staff including graduate assistants, [Other Personnel Services] workers and temporary workers would not rank UF as a top employer,” Mermer said.

Mermer said the university does not take every staff member into consideration when making decisions — big or small.

He said UF barely regards graduate assistants as employees since they are also students, leading to their lack in pay and their inability to voice an opinion and be heard.

“We dedicate our lives, and most of our work leads to the university, so we should get a say in the priorities,” Mermer said.

Ashley Nguyen, coordinator for Alachua County Labor Coalition (ACLC), said the list is accurate if you’re a person of power.

Nguyen has worked with ACLC for almost three years, helping make UF a better place for contracted OPS workers, which stands for Other Personnel Services workers. OPS positions are temporary work, she said.

Nguyen said OPS workers do not have a democratic choice in how their workplaces are run.

Since the new OPS policy was released, moving some OPS workers to full-time but letting go many others, the ACLC has been upset. Nguyen said the university doesn’t give the same opportunity to OPS workers to speak out about their grievances and complaints.

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“OPS workers do not have a voice,” she said. “They are not paid fairly, and a lot of them are not able to support their own livelihoods because of the pay they recieve.”

The Alligator reached out to UF for comment, but they did not have a statement at this time.

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