By the time he had left Stony Brook 6 years later, he was earning $44,500 a year, after tenure and promotion. Not much of an increase, you might say. No indeed, and a large part of the reason was that the union was actively working to keep his salary down. Stony Brook had two pools of money, a cost-of-living pool, and a merit pool. The merit pool was small, and the union, which hated merit pay, was constantly trying to negotiate it down. But almost all of RWP's raises came through the merit pool. Profs on $100 K a year would generally not bother to send in the documentation to get a $1k or $2k merit raise, whereas RWP, who was publishing well, getting grants, etc., did so diligently. $1k is a lot when you're making $30k a year. The cost-of-living raises were not great either, because New York in the late 80s/early 90s was not in good budgetary shape. Had RWP relied on COL, he would undoubtedly have gone bankrupt (he nearly did, anyway).
The people who ran the union were everything you might expect. When RWP got there, the boss was one Nuala McGann Drescher, who used her copious dues income to sent out comical Wobbly-style newsletters 'Solidarity, Comrades, we have the Bosses on their knees...'. Except, when you thought about it, the 'Boss' was a Democrat governor running a very liberal state. She was succeeded by his own Department's librarian, a complete incompetent. When she tried to dock RWP's meager salary for a book he had returned six months previously, he walked to the place where it was correctly shelved, brought it to her office, and slammed it on her desk. She then wrote to his chair asking to be protected from his 'male rage'.
A large part of his decision to leave Stony Brook was an intense desire to be rid of these leeches. He was careful to check that UNL is not only not unionized but in a right-to-work state.
And this is why he raises a glass to the people of Michigan, who have rid themselves of the foul stain of compulsory union dues, and the fat goons who collect them. Solidarity, Brothers. Rise up and overthrow the (union) Bosses!
And no more writing in the third person for RWP. It's tiring!