Letters to the Editor


Academics need right to unionize

December 27, 2006

The Sun's editorial "Basic benefits" (Dec. 20) shines a welcome spotlight on the low pay and lack of professional support available to faculty members in the University System of Maryland who do not hold permanent, full-time tenure and tenure-track positions.

This is part of a national trend. In fact, less than 30 percent of the nation's college and university instructors are now in permanent, full-time tenured positions.

The rest are hired for a year or two or placed in positions where they can be removed at any time for any reason.

Because this poses an obvious threat to academic freedom and educational quality, The Sun is right to call on the USM to do better.

Today, the best avenue for part-time and full-time non-tenure-track faculty to improve their wages and working conditions is to organize into academic unions so they can negotiate fair contracts.

Thirty-three states and the District of Columbia have passed laws allowing higher-education faculty to bargain. Unfortunately, Maryland does not permit professors in the university system to unionize.

The law should be changed as soon as possible.

Until that happens, it will not be surprising to find college faculty at the mercy of budget decisions made without much regard for their welfare or for academic quality.

Edward J. McElroy


The writer is president of the American Federation of Teachers.

Low-paid lecturers, high-paid presidents

I re-read the article about the salaries and benefits for lecturers in the University System of Maryland and found it appalling that many are without health benefits ("Perks denied to USM staff," Dec. 17).

But the article never mentioned the salaries and the benefits that the various college chancellors, presidents and other administrators make.

Could The Sun do another article, which makes the comparison between the chancellor's salary and benefits and those for the lecturers?

Asbury Joe Francis


Raise won't reduce the city's crime rate

No qualified person is going to attempt to become the state's attorney for Baltimore simply because the salary has been increased by $83,000 to $225,000 ("Jessamy to be city's highest paid," Dec. 21).

Such an extraordinary, 60 percent pay raise for the city prosecutor is misguided.

If extra money is available in the city budget, it should be applied elsewhere.

How about using the money for the witness protection program to avert a repetition of the Dawson family tragedy?

What about using it to provide desperately needed services for the detained youth housed in the Baltimore City Juvenile Justice Center?

Or using it to tighten security at the city Detention Center, or to hire another police or probation officer?

It seems that political gamesmanship is going to prevail over concern for the safety of Baltimore citizens once again.

Anton J.S. Keating


The writer is a former candidate for Baltimore state's attorney.

`Sportsplex' poses threat to open space

Without public meetings, the Baltimore Development Corp. is essentially a front for private interests. ("Gateway South builders chosen," Dec. 22).

To make matters worse, apparently the BDC is above the law - as it has refused to abide by a court decision that requires it to hold open meetings on transactions with long-term consequences for Baltimore.

If this so-called "sportsplex" takes shape along the western bank of the Middle Branch, it will kill one of the city's last remaining urban wilderness areas - a place where one can still get away from it all without going very far.

John Bailey


Time to partition Iraq and go home

President Bush keeping our forces in Iraq reminds me of a gambler who has lost most of his money and is now trying to win it back ("Bush says his work is unfinished," Dec. 21).

The president should use his head instead of our tax money and push to see that Iraq is divided into three sections - Kurd, Sunni and Shiite.

Then, divide the oil revenues among the three sections of the country according to their populations - and let's get the heck out of Iraq.

Charles Johnston


Immigration laws lack common sense

Has this administration completely lost compassion and common sense?

A Colombian nurse who was forced at gunpoint (several times) to treat a Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia terrorist is now threatened with expulsion from the United States ("Asylum-seekers blocked by anti-terror laws," Dec. 22).

This seems to be a case of the Department of Homeland Security's strict interpretation of a "supporting terrorism" clause in our immigration laws.

I hope the newly elected Congress will revise the law regarding the treatment of asylum-seekers - and find a just and life-saving way out of Iraq - so that our nation will again have the chance to be respected in the world community.

Marge Craven


Relapses will plague any drug treatment

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