Thursday, March 6, 2014

Introduction and My Promise to You


I am a contingent, full-time non-teaching faculty member at the University of Illinois at Chicago.  I am, as of now, a member of the UIC United Faculty Union.  But I have many reservations about the union, about its proposed contract, and about the recent and pending strike actions.

I write this blog both to make my views known and to engage in discussion, particularly those who see all these issues differently.  I believe I can offer something others can learn from, and that others, particularly those who disagree, have much to teach me as the union negotiates for its contract.

Therefore, I welcome comments, both supportive and critical.  I do ask that comments remain civil, with no name calling and a minimum of profanity.  This issue can be an emotionally charged one, which is one reason I believe this blog to be necessary.  I will delete comments that in my judgement are blatant spam or uncivil.  I make no promises that I will always be consistent, but I will try to err on the side of promoting more open discussion and airing of different views.  This comments policy will evolve depending on the number of readers this blog receives.

I probably will not convince everybody, or most people, to share the reservations I have about the union, etc.  And although I wish to keep an open mind myself, I might not come around to supporting the union and its goals as robustly as some of its champions seem to.

To all these ends, here are my promises to you:

1.  I will not knowingly claim something to be true that I know is false.  Whenever possible, I will try to cite where I got my information.  When I am speculating or stating things based on rumor, I will try to be as upfront about that as possible.

2.  I will try as much as possible to be clear about my biases so you all know where I'm coming from.  I also realize that I am probably better off than many of my colleagues, and this fact makes it easier for me to adopt the ambivalent stance I do.  I think all arguments for or against the union need to be based mostly on reason and on discussion, but I would like to be respectful of the fact that I enjoy certain privileges that others do not.

3.  I will keep post-hoc editing of my posts to a minimum, and I will try to be as clear as possible about what I've edited.  In other words, once I've written a post, I would like readers to be confident that what I've said is there to stay.  I may, from time to time, tweak the formatting, especially in the beginning as I try navigate the in's and out's of the blogger templates.  In exceptional circumstances, I may delete a post, but even then I pledge to announce such deletion and explain the reasons for it. 

4.  I will try to anonymize my discussions with union members and others as much as possible.  I do not want to put anyone on the spot who has not taken a public position, and I myself am posting this blog anonymously.  I shall try to use the "he or she" or "he/she" formulations as much as possible, although I'm sure I'll slip up from time to time.

5.  I will not disclose a private communication from the union unless the union has also made that communication public.  I am on at least one listserv for union members only, and I would like to keep those messages as "in house" as possible.  I may report things that are said at a union meeting, but only if it meets one of the following two criteria:

  • The union meeting itself is open to the public.  For example, I was not at the "teach in" several months ago, but because it was open to the public, anything said by the speakers there I would have considered fair game for public discussion.
  • The thing I repeat is not meant to be confidential AND is a general comment not made on behalf of the union AND I take care to anonymize what I repeat as much as possible.


UPDATE, AUGUST 31, 2014:  It appears I may not actually be a member of the bargaining unit after all, and therefore not a bona fide member of the union.  I am indefinitely disabling comments and indefinitely withdrawing any invitation to submit guest posts.

UPDATE, JUNE 26, 2015: In keeping with my last update, I have recently found out, apparently definitively, that I am not a member of the bargaining unit, and may have never been a member.

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