Tim Sieber – Q&A
1) Why do you want to serve on the Executive Committee?
After 44 years here, more and more I see the union offering the possibility of the freshest and most unified voice we as faculty can have at UMass Boston. The FSU doesn’t owe anything to anybody – except to us, and the commitment we have to our students, the communities we serve, our professional fields of knowledge, and the university’s mission. We are also entering into a dangerous era for all organized public sector workers. We need an even stronger union that fosters more faculty participation and dialogue, includes everyone, and offers a clear voice on the many long-term problems that still trouble UMB. I have benefitted a lot from the presence of the union, as we all have. I’m worried about its future, I and would like to give something back after all these many years, since I was on the FSU’s first steering committee in the late 1970s.
2) Given the local and national threats to unions, like the Janus decision, what would you do to strengthen the FSU?
If the Janus decision goes as most people expect it will — against us and all members of public sector unions throughout the nation — it will not suggest we need unions any less to help us formulate our collective voice as faculty over terms and conditions of our employment. If the Supreme Court upholds Janus, it will simply mean that anti-worker forces have succeeded at taking a good chunk of unions’ financial resources from them, so that unions will have less to work with in doing their important work. This prospect argues even more for all of us who believe in the efficacy of a union voice to work harder to promote inclusion, dialogue, and more unity among ourselves, and to awaken colleagues who may not have recognized the union’s value yet.
3) What is your favorite campus memory?
When I first came to UMass as a new faculty member in the mid-1970s, the year our “Harbor Campus” opened, despite the prison-type architecture that constructed barriers between us and waterfront environment, we were more connected and intrigued by being on the waterfront than we seem to be any more. My department, with families in tow, used to arrange to have a university boat take us out to the harbor islands so that we could have a picnic in the spring at the end of the year. Once on Thompson Island, or Lovell’s, we would set up a large tent and a grill, cook food, take out sports equipment for games, and enjoy the day outside, on the water and in the sun. It seems that faculty, all being new to the university and to one another, also socialized more regularly with one another in those days. I miss the camaraderie we felt in those early years and the sense that everyone was part of an exciting new project – to create an accessible public university of the highest quality in Boston, a place where nothing like that had ever existed before.