Chuck Elkins was a longtime member of the Department of English at FIU. He was one of the founders of the UFF chapter at FIU and for many years was a union activist and leader, in addition to being a scholar, teacher, and serving also as a Vice Provost (at what was then known as the North Miami campus).
I got to know Chuck when I came to FIU, initially through the Friday afternoon co-ed volleyball, then also through UFF, and through shared interests politics, philosophy and the Miami Heat. I worked under his leadership on the UFF Grievance team, along with Lynn Berk, Bob Weinberger and Ken Johnson. I later served with Chuck on the Statewide UFF Bargaining team from 1996-1998 when he was the Chief Negotiator. It was a fraught time during which tenure was under attack in the State University System. Florida Gulf Coast had just been established as a university without tenure and the Board of Regents was seeking implement a draconian post-tenure review. Chuck provided steady leadership and creativity in crafting, and then getting ratified a review policy that was protective of faculty interests and academic freedom. That policy–“Sustained Performance Review” –was based on prior annual evaluations, was easy to administer, and which importantly required faculty to devise the specific procedures of implementation. After devolution in the early 2000s that policy was incorporated into the UFF-FIU Collective Bargaining Agreement.
Chuck drew on his experiences as Chief Negotiation and as a Union activist to write an article “From Plantation to Corporation: The Attack on Tenure and Academic Freedom in Florida” (Sociological Perspectives: Vol 41, No. 4, 1998). It is still timely today with the renewed political attacks on academic freedom and critical theory in Florida.
Professor and Chairperson
Department of Philosophy
College of Arts and Sciences