I do remember how helpless it felt to be untenured. I remember feeling at the mercy of some real BSDs, one of whom was a woman. Talk about entitlement, after her grant expired, she tried to charge stuff to mine. I was only saved by an incredibly helpful staff person (Carol, wherever you are, and whatever you are doing, I still thank you and appreciate what you did for me).
But, the untenured do have power. It’s just knowing what it is and how to use it.
One aspect of that power is people listening to you. That’s right, people do listen to the untenured. When I go to a faculty meeting and Joe Greyhair starts ranting and raving about his pet concern (parking costs or class size), I tune out. So does everyone else at the meeting. But when a young faculty ventures to say something critical – critical of anything – I listen. In my head, and in the head of (nearly) every full prof is “if this is important enough for Asst. Prof ZZZ to speak out, it is significant”. It’s a matter of the cost of speaking vs. the benefit that might accrue because of it. The costs are so much higher to the untenured and everybody knows that.