Texas Brownsville United Faculty - TFA & NEA

Texas Brownsville United Faculty (TBUF) Homepage

Your Union for Faculty Representation in the Lower Rio Grande Valley!

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texasbrownsvilleunitedfaculty@gmail.com

TBUF/TFA

Texas Brownsville United Faculty/Texas Faculty Association

 

The power of colleagues working together

 

Your faculty association representatives for Texas Brownsville!

 

TFA is the most successful and powerful faculty association in Texas.  It is an organization that unites higher education faculty at local campuses and across the state, and is affiliated with the National Education Association.

 

Since 1985 TFA has advanced the interests of Texas higher education faculty both at local institutions and at the state capital.  TFA offers the best member protection program in the nation, advocacy at the local and state levels, and many member benefits.

 

The member protection program offers:

 

·      An Educators Employment Liability Policy with up to $6 million coverage which protects members against lawsuits and charges arising out of the scope of their employment duties.

·      Support in preparing and presenting grievances against administrative malpractice.

·      Defense against any spurious charges throughout the grievance process.

 

TFA has local members with grievance and other training and the experience to resolve problems affecting individual faculty members, faculty groups, or the entire faculty.

 

Your TBUF Chapter

 

TBUF is a fast growing local chapter uniting a dynamic group of dedicated educators ready to advocate for fellow faculty members.  In addition to the national TFA and NEA benefits, TBUF members receive important local news about actions and faculty concerns on our campus as well as information about legislative actions affecting higher education.  TBUF members have opportunities to serve the higher education profession through the organization and their campus or community activities.  We are a group of professionals who are dedicated to strengthening the faculty voice on campus and enhancing the quality of higher education for our students.

 

Contact us via email at: texasbrownsvilleunitedfaculty@gmail.com

 

Get your TBUF news, membership and other information at: http://texasbrownsvilleunitedfaculty.webs.com

 

Former faculty suing TSC, UTB

By Melissa Montoya The Brownsville Herald | Posted: Thursday, February 20, 2014 10:18 pm

Three tenured professors who were laid off in 2012 are now suing the University of Texas at Brownsville and Texas Southmost College, alleging their terminations violated the federal Age Discrim ination in Employment Act.

The lawsuit, filed on behalf of the professors by the Texas Faculty Association in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, alleges that all three professors were over the age of 40 when they were terminated.

UTB spokeswoman Letty Fernandez said the university does not comment on pending litigation. Similarly, TSC President Lily Tercero declined comment Thursday.

The layoffs occurred in 2012 when the institutional partnership laid off more than 80 professors to prepare for the separation between the institutions.

As the separation began, committee guidelines were established and the provost’s instructions to the committee allegedly were that “non-tenured faculty members were given priority over tenured faculty with a master’s degree,” the lawsuit states.

“The provost’s charge that required non-tenured faculty be given priority over tenured faculty had a disparate impact on faculty members who are over 40 years of age,” the lawsuit further states.

According to the lawsuit, tenure-track professors are typically under age 40 but those who have attained tenure typically are older.

These three cases were referred to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which “was not able to resolve the controversy,” the lawsuit states.

The commission issued “right-to-sue” letters to the three professors at the end of November, informing them that the commission was not prepared to take further efforts on their behalf.

All three professors — Juan Antonio Gonzalez, Dorothy Boven and Karen Fuss-Sommer — taught at TSC before its partnership with UTB began in 1992.

Additionally, the lawsuit alleges that Boven was discriminated against as a female worker because she was paid less than male professors who taught the same number of courses.

The lawsuit names UTB President Juliet V. Garcia, Provost Alan Artibise and TSC President Lily Tercero as defendants.

“Defendants paid male employees a different wage for equal work for a job which required equal skills, effort and responsibility, and which was performed in similar working conditions,” the lawsuit states.

According to the lawsuit, plaintiffs are demanding a jury trial and would like to be reinstated as tenured professors.

TFA Executive Director Mary Aldridge Dean said the university claimed they were removing people because the separation would lead to smaller enrollment numbers.

“But (enrollment) is up,” she said. “I don’t see that they have any explanation for what they did other than they were picking and choosing and ignoring tenure.”

In January, a fourth professor who had also filed a grievance with the EEOC concerning age discrimination was granted his tenured position at the university.

mmontoya@brownsvilleherald.com

Profs remain concerned about tenure at new university

Terence Garrett Terence Garrett

Profs remain concerned about tenure at new university

About 20 local members of the Texas Faculty Association met March 22 to plan a Texas Southmost College chapter, increase membership and discuss the consolidation of UT-Brownsville and UT-Pan American into UT-Rio Grande Valley. 

The members consist of UTB and TSC faculty.

“We engage with faculty if there is a problem with administration, for example,” Terence Garrett, a UTB government professor and president of the Texas Brownsville United Faculty local chapter, said about the chapter. “There’s a lot of uncertainty with what is going to happen with UT-RGV. There’s no guarantee that the faculty will even have tenure.”

Garrett said that with the UTB and TSC split last year, more than 250 faculty and staff lost their jobs.

“People with tenure thought they were safe before the split and they weren’t, and tenure wasn’t the most important consideration,” he said.  

About 30 of the 40 members of the local chapter are UTB faculty, and the rest are TSC faculty. 

Asked why not all professors at UTB are members of the association, Garrett replied: “I have done everything I can to try to get the word out for them to join. Tell them how it’s in their best interest, how we can work better as a group if they join the association because there is power in numbers.”

The Texas Faculty Association is a “nonprofit organization that formed in 1985 to protect the rights of higher education faculty and support staff,” according to its website. “It is dedicated to academic freedom, collegiality across all faculty ranks, faculty participation in governance, and continued improvement of teaching, scholarship and creativity in every college, university and postsecondary institution in Texas.”

Garrett said that in joining the organization, members get legal protection when an event like the separation of UTB and TSC happens.

Marvin Lovett, a business administration senior lecturer and interim vice president of the chapter, was laid off as a result of the split. 

“There were quite of number of reasons, it was quite inconsistent,” Lovett said he was given for being laid off. “Of course, the original reasoning was because of the reduction in force … just because they felt there were just not as much people needed. Unfortunately, that was one of the decisions that was questionable. They didn’t really put a lot of emphasis on traditional variables that we usually use when we make these decisions, such as rank and tenure and teaching and research and service. They were just kind of ignored.”

He was out of work from June to November 2013. 

Lovett appealed his termination and during a hearing on campus last fall, a TFA attorney presented his case in front of faculty members. 

Lovett said he could not divulge the specifics of the settlement reached with the university but he was reinstated in Fall 2013. 

Lovett currently teaches principles of marketing, principles of management and consumer behavior courses. 

TFA Executive Director Mary Aldridge Dean attended the March 22 meeting and said that UTB faculty members are looking forward to the UT System Symposium to be held April 24 in the Rio Grande Valley. 

A February newsletter from Julio León, the special adviser hired by the UT System to help plan the new university and medical school in the Valley, states the symposium “will be a major event where the recommendations of working groups, external consultants and others will be presented to UT System leaders. … The April Symposium will present the first glimpse of The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.”

“The UT System is supposed to give the faculty an outline of what the new University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley is going to look like,” Dean said. “A lot of people at UTB are concerned with what happened when the split with Texas Southmost [College] because I think, basically, they don’t trust the university system.”

Dean said UT System Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa grabbed people’s attention when he spoke to UTB faculty about tenure on Feb. 26. 

“When the UTB folks talked to Cigarroa and they asked him flat out: ‘Is our tenure going to carry over?’ he said, ‘Well, legally we won’t have to recognize tenure,’” Dean said.

She also referred to  Section Four of Senate Bill 24, which authorized the University of Texas System board of regents to abolish UT-Brownsville and UT-Pan American and create UT-RGV, which states: “In recognition of the abolition of The University of Texas--Pan American and The University of Texas at Brownsville as authorized by this Act, the board of regents shall facilitate the employment at the university created by this Act of as many faculty and staff of the abolished universities as is prudent and practical.”

Dean said, “So you start adding the little pieces of we will keep whoever is ‘practical and … prudent’ to we don’t have to recognize tenure, and people are upset.”  

Garrett said university administration does not recognize the Texas Brownsville United Faculty as a faculty organization. 

“They don’t recognize our group, they don’t recognize any faculty group on this campus,” he said. “We have lobbied, we have tried to get them to recognize and they refuse to do so. … It’s very discriminatory.”

He said that UTB and UTPA chapters of TFA might join once the universities are merged. 

“We are probably going to merge with the Pan American United Faculty because we are going to be one faculty and they have a large chapter. … They have over 200 members, so they have a powerful voice on campus,” Garrett said.

The association’s UTB chapter will meet at 1 p.m. April 25 at Kaero’s Restaurant, 3090 Pablo Kisel Blvd.

Faculty can join the TFA by visiting its website at tfaonline.net.

 

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Magaly Rosales

Editora de Español

 

UTB faculty question future

 

UTB faculty question future

Professors meet with TFA; weigh options


Posted: Saturday, March 22, 2014 10:36 pm

Facing uncertainty, University of Texas at Brownsville professors met with Texas Faculty Association representatives on Saturday to discuss options for their future. 

The apprehension among faculty members comes from the language found in the law that will consolidate UTB with its counterpart in Edinburg, the University of Texas-Pan American.

“We are concerned there’s not built-in protections in the legislation creating UTRGV,” said Terence Garrett, president of the Texas Brownsville United Faculty, the local chapter.

Senate bill 24, which was approved during the last regular session, states the UT System Board of Regents shall employ faculty and staff of the “abolished universities as is prudent and practical,” at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.

During a meeting in February, UT Chancellor Francisco G. Cigarroa confirmed that a tenured professorship at UTPA and UTB does not equal tenure at UTRGV.

“Legally, that is a true statement, but the intention here is to grow the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley,” Cigarroa said then.

Faculty on campus are concerned and apprehensive, said Garrett, a professor in the government department.

The issue isn’t taken lightly at UTB because of the separation from TSC that ended in mass layoffs at every level, Garrett said.

“They’re concerned about what happened with the TSC split and that the same thing will happen again,” he said.

About 40 professors are part of the TFA affiliate in Brownsville, Garrett said. That includes professors from both UTB and TSC. Currently, a group of TSC professors who refer to themselves as the “framers” are beginning to put together their own Constitution to separate from the UTB organization.

Karen Fuss-Sommer, who was laid off by UTB and later hired by TSC, said it’s important for faculty members to protect their rights as professors.

Fuss-Sommer held administrative and faculty positions with UTB and said she had to return to the basics and start teaching again in order to remind herself that she enjoyed her job after two years of turmoil.

Fuss-Sommer, who was present at the meeting with UTB professors and TFA, advised UTB professors to protect themselves from what could happen in the future.

TFA has filed a lawsuit on behalf of Fuss-Sommer for alleging age discrimination in her termination from the institutional partnership.

Because of the way the reduction-in-force process was set up at then UTB-TSC, Fuss-Sommer, who is a nursing professor, said it was inevitable for cracks to form between long-time friends who have worked side by side.

Those who lost jobs were chosen by a committee of fellow faculty members within their departments, she said.

“They did it because they had to,” Fuss-Sommer said.

It may prove even more difficult for professors from UTB and UTPA to work together because the two campuses are spread so far apart, she said.

TFA Executive Director Mary Aldridge Dean told professors that — when the system announces the new president of UTRGV — faculty members need to organize and push back. The presidential candidates are down to four after Georgia Regents University President Dr. Ricardo Azziz dropped out of the running, the Monitor reported Friday. The UT System has said they will make an announcement before April 24 when there will be a symposium to discuss the future of UTRGV.

“The key for folks at UTB is that they can’t have an us-versus-them mentality,” Fuss-Sommer said.

The local TFA chapter will hold a meeting for faculty interested in joining on at 1 p.m. April 25 at Kaeros Restaurant in Brownsville.

mmontoya@brownsvilleherald.com