In response to United Staff of Columbia College criticism

By Letter to the Editor, by Brett E. King

On the surface, someone reading [Jennie] Fauls’ Letter to the Editor might be inclined to feel that [United Staff of Columbia College] has done something untoward in [its] rejection of the College’s merit pay proposal — certainly, that seems to be the way she feels. However, what Ms. Fauls fails to acknowledge is that the leadership of US of CC brought that proposal to a general membership meeting, and it was rejected across the board. US of CC is not some nameless enemy, locked in an unwinnable war against the administration. It is a collective of hard-working, dedicated individuals— that in many cases behave far more professionally than those they deal with—who ask nothing more than for the College to recognize us in a fair, appropriate way that does not foster a system of cronyism.

Further, I resent Ms. Fauls’ implication that those who resist merit pay are doing so simply because we “prefer not to be judged on [our] skill and effort.” By all means, please do just that—in a way that’s truly fair. (If the College did, I think they’d find we’re all owed far more than they’re capable of spending.) Instead, Ms. Fauls seems to want to paint those opposed to this scheme as lacking ambition, a point belied by the fact that so many of us continue to work at Columbia at all—often far in excess of our hours, and often without seeking compensation; in spite of the cold-blooded and alarming way in which staff are fired; regardless of the elitist way that SOME faculty (and ALL admin) look down on us as lowly, uneducated subordinates worthy only of unjamming copy machines and making coffee; notwithstanding those who wrongly assume that we uniformly support Dr. Kim [is] untenable, neoliberal vision for Columbia; in spite of highly placed nonunion staffers who publicly take credit for ideas that our members put forth; and on and on and on.

Instead, many of us resist merit pay because we lack faith in the upper administration, and also because we fear those instances when those who do not understand what we do, or that play favorites, will determine how we measure up merit-wise. (Unfortunately, I think we all know far too many people in managerial roles across the College that fit that bill.)

Finally, if Ms. Fauls is truly so unhappy with this situation, she should consider putting her efforts where her mouth is—join as a dues-paying member so that she can have her voice count, or show up at one or two of the planning meetings and offer her perspective first hand.

 Brett E. King

Evening Office Manager, Department of Humanities, History & Social Sciences