The Texas Faculty Association is suing the University of Texas at Brownsville and Texas Southmost College in federal court on behalf of three tenured professors who say they were fired for being too old, after the two institutions ended a 20-year-old joint operating agreement. Juan Antonio Gonzalez, a professor of modern languages; Dorothy Boven, an assistant professor of English; and Karen Fuss-Sommer, an instructor of nursing, all were granted tenure at Texas Southmost prior to the merger of the college and university in 1992 but had their tenure revoked following their split in 2012.
The lawsuit alleges that was due to an administrative charge that prioritized the retention of non-tenure-track faculty members with master’s degrees over tenured faculty without master’s degrees during downsizing related to the split. But the professors, all over 40, say their positions weren’t even eliminated, and that they were replaced with younger professors without due process.
"Tenure is a property right, and it is not to be taken without good cause or due process, and these individuals were denied both,” said Mary Aldridge Dean, executive director the Texas Faculty Association, affiliated with the National Education Association, in a news release. Some 80 tenure-line and non-tenure-track faculty lost their jobs following the institutions' split.
A spokeswoman from Brownsville said the university does not comment on pending litigation. Texas Southmost did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Full-time, non-tenure-track lecturers at the University of New Hampshire’s Durham and Manchester campuses have voted overwhelmingly -- 141 to 23 -- in favor of forming a union affiliated with the American Association of University Professors, they announced Thursday. Key issues for UNH Lecturers United-AAUP include clear terms of contract, job security, firm contract renewal deadlines, pay raises in step with lecturers at other institutions, and fair policies for evaluation.
Six female faculty members in the philosophy department at the University of Colorado at Boulder have issued a statement expressing concerns about the impact of a recent report detailing instances of sexism and unprofessionalism in the department. The statement, published on the Feminist Philosophers blog, doesn't take issue with the conclusions of the report. But the statement notes that the report (which was released by the university although the authors of the report didn't intend for it to become public) could unfairly damage the reputations of some in the department. To avoid that problem, the statement says the following: "Despite differing perceptions regarding both the report’s details and the overall impression it gives, all of us are united on a few things. First, we are all distressed that the report may damage the reputations of male colleagues who are completely innocent of sexual misconduct. It could also harm the prospects of our male graduate students currently on the market. We faculty women strongly believe that none of our currently untenured male colleagues or current male graduate students has engaged in sexual misconduct (nor, indeed, have most of our tenured colleagues). We believe that many have heard about the problems, if at all, only through the rumor mill. The second thing that unites us all is our determination to rebuild the department and its reputation."
After 18 months of trying to negotiate their first union contract, faculty at the University of Illinois at Chicago moved forward on Tuesday with a planned, two-day strike. Hundreds of classes were not held Tuesday as a result of the strike, The Chicago Tribune reported.
Joe Persky, professor of economics and president of the United Faculty, an American Federation of Teachers- and American Association of University Professors-affiliated union representing both tenure-line and, full-time, non-tenure-track faculty, said the strike was a last resort to which the union had been “pushed” by the university. Major unresolved issues for the union include a proposed $45,000 baseline salary for full-time, non-tenure track lecturers, many of whom teach large, first-year courses, Persky said. “We’ve got lecturers here making $30,000 a year, and they’re filling up classes with $300,000 worth of students. There’s something wrong there.” The union also wants various “blanks” in the contract, such as those for future merit raise pools, filled in with real dollar amounts, and a 4.5 percent pay increase starting next year.
In an email, a university spokesman said the union also wants payment for out-of-pocket insurance costs and special allocations to address salary compression -- when longer-serving professors are paid similarly to newer peers because raises haven’t kept up with the outside market. He said the estimated cost of those proposals, including the $45,000 base salary for lecturers, would equal a hefty, approximately 25 percent personnel cost jump to the university, over four years. A side-by-side university chart comparing the its and the union’s bargaining positions, including their costs, is available here.
“The university believes that a work stoppage or strike is not in the best interest of the faculty, the university, or our students; however, we acknowledge the faculty’s right to strike under Illinois labor law,” reads a university statement on the strike. Despite offering a “fair” contract already, the university said it will continue to bargain with the union until an agreement is reached. Additional negotiating sessions have been scheduled through March; the next is on Friday. Persky said he was confident that the strike, which shut down classes and was accompanied by on-campus rallies and picketing by professors and students, would help the union’s cause.
“Everything has changed,” he said. “We’ve shown them what we can do.”
Bowling Green State University and its faculty union have reached an agreement regarding 40 planned job cuts for non-tenure-track faculty on one-year contracts. Under the agreement, those faculty members who have worked at Bowling Green full-time for four or more years will be offered severance packages based on salary and years of service. Some 18 faculty members are eligible. David Jackson, president of the Bowling Green State University Faculty Association, an American Association of University Professors-affiliated union representing both tenure-line faculty and adjuncts, said the association had hope to preserve all jobs but legal analysis suggested that was unlikely. He described the severance deal as making the "best out of a bad situation." In a statement, the university said: "We are pleased that we were able to reach an agreement with the Faculty Association. The decision to not renew the contracts of any of our colleagues is always difficult, and was done with the best interests of the university in mind."
The faculty union at the University of Illinois at Chicago is planing a two-day strike, starting today. The union, affiliated with the American Association of University Professors and the American Federation of Teachers, is staging the strike after 18 months of negotiations for a first contract. "UIC professors did not want it to come to this, but the trustees’ proposals continue to short change both faculty and students," said a statement from the union. "UIC administration continues to hike tuition to the point it has amassed hundreds of millions in profits each year and more than a billion dollars in reserves, yet refuses to pay professors what they’re worth. Many members of the faculty who teach first-year students only make $30,000 a year!"
A statement from the university, released in advance of the expected strike, said: "The university values its faculty and has offered a fair contract to each of its collective bargaining units. We will continue to bargain in good faith, now with the help of a federal mediator, until a settlement is reached. The university believes that a work stoppage or strike is not in the best interest of the faculty, the University, or our students; however, we acknowledge the faculty’s right to strike under Illinois labor law."
In today’s Academic Minute, William Cooper of Indiana University-Purdue University at Fort Wayne explains why species that inhabit island are less frightened of human intruders. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.