Letter to the editor: Pitt response to union rally disappointing

To the editor:

I was dismayed at the administration’s response to the Faculty Union's protest on Feb. 24. This protest, timed to occur during the Board of Trustees meeting at the William Pitt Union, was designed to raise awareness about fair pay and the low salaries of many faculty. During this protest, one part-time faculty member, who has been working at Pitt for 14 years and typically teaches three classes per semester, gave a speech saying that she only makes $28,000 per year. Please take a moment to let that sink in. 

The administration’s response, instead of engaging with us or perhaps even coming to listen to our speeches, was to have the University police escort the faculty out of the building. This show of force in response to a peaceful protest felt confrontational, tone-deaf and disheartening. 

There are three reasons I think it is important to show up to union actions. First, I have learned more about the difficult working conditions that other faculty face. Second, I think that it is important to support the proposals being put forth; if we want things to improve we need to work together to show support. Third, I have learned a lot about the administration from how they choose to respond — in this case hiding and ordering us out of the building. 

As a tenured faculty member, I am pretty happy with my job. I work hard, and in compensation I get good benefits and a pretty decent salary (though could be better). However, many other faculty work hard and have poor salaries. The union is waiting for a response from the administration about our proposal for salaries. Let's get on with the negotiations and leave the police out of it.

Ben Rottman
Associate professor of psychology