VOLUME 33, NUMBER 25 THURSDAY, April 18, 2002
ReporterThe Mail

Union for faculty, staff needs the count to get the clout in Albany

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To the Editor:
Like all state employees, members of the faculty and professional staff are represented by a union—United University Professions (UUP).

One percent of gross salary is withheld from every paycheck, whether one is an actual member of the union or a so-called agency-fee payer. In either case, the services provided by the union are the same: raises, discretionary increases, vacation days, vision and dental insurance, representation and on and on.

A number of colleagues may think they are members when, in fact, they are agency-fee payers: your pay stub will indicate your status. It takes just one signature to change from fee-payer to member.

Others profess to have principled objections to joining the union. "We are not steel workers" or "I don't think of myself as 'labor.'"

These "conscientious objectors'" pay just the same as members, yet they don't contribute the same. Their stance is costly, both to our chapter and to UUP statewide. The chapter has fewer members and, thus, smaller representation. And UUP statewide has fewer members and, thus, diminished clout with the state and in the Legislature.

This last point deserves emphasis. We need the count to get the clout. Of all those lobbying for SUNY, our union is the most effective by far. Campus presidents have just 64 votes, but the union is good for tens of thousands of votes. No wonder that the Legislature listens to and hears the union, while arguments from central administration wither on the vine.

Count translates to clout. We miss the count of the many who consider the union below their dignity, even as they submit their Delta Dental (insurance) claims. Stop riding a crippled hobby horse—help our university and SUNY.

Just do it: join the union, become a member. Call Chris Black at 645-2013, and she will send you a membership form.

John Boot

Professor and Chair, Department of Management Science and Systems
President, Buffalo Center Chapter, UUP


Reporter should focus more on results, rather than winning, of grants

To the Editor:
I write to express gratitude for several articles in the last Reporter (April 11, 2002). For example, the article by Patricia Donovan about the health of homeless urban children was genuinely informative, and it was good to print the research results of the doctoral investigator, Timothy Sullivan, and the comments of Professor Steegman.

Similarly, the article by Donna Longenecker about Professor Jeanette Johnson's research about children from risky and/or impoverished environments was also intellectually valuable and in some places eloquent. And Ms. Longenecker's article about "Modest Mansions" and a prize-winning achievement in architecture was informative.

Several other articles also spread information about important national or local intellectual achievements, including the effort to attract more talented undergraduates.

I suggest politely that if we are ever to become—or resemble—an intellectual community, more articles such as these will be both necessary and crucially important. In the past, we have usually been given many articles primarily about the winning of grants, but seldom—if ever—about the completion of grants or about the intellectual achievements of the grant-investigations. Of course, I can understand why, from an administrative point of view, there may be a greater interest in the initial award statement, with the valuable overhead percentages. But if either grant—or unfunded—research results are usually ignored or omitted, an unintentionally harmful bias is conveyed or frequently demonstrated. In addition, more university readers will probably gain much more information from articles such as these of last week that present both intellectual knowledge and evidence of successful intelligent completion of the academic projects.

May I suggest that in the future there could be an increasingly wide range of articles in the Reporter that reveal such research and interpretative findings. We could also have reviews of university music and theater and dance, as well as some professional book reviews. We could also read interviews with both some ordinary and some extraordinary students. It would be interesting to learn what visiting scholars from other schools think about their time here. We could learn about some prize-winning students and also about some people who must work very hard to pay their tuition bills.

It might also be useful, although perhaps also frustrating, to learn about the technological classroom improvements available and in use in some SUNY, New York and nearby institutions.


Vic Doyno
Professor of English

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