AFT and AAUP Sign Joint Organizing Agreement

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The AFT and the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) signed an agreement on Sept. 17 to bring the resources of both organizations together to organize faculty and staff at the nation's top public institutions of higher education.

"This agreement will help faculty and staff have a primary role in institutional decision-making so that education and professional stability come first at our nation's colleges and universities," said AFT president Randi Weingarten in presenting the agreement to the AFT executive council at its meeting at the National Labor College in Silver Spring, Md. "This is a big opportunity to grow higher education ranks."

The AFT and the AAUP already have forged seven joint affiliations in six states. The new national agreement will expand opportunities at some of the larger, harder-to-organize flagship institutions where the AAUP has many members. "It's a way of helping faculty members to take a fresh look at unionization," Weingarten said.

AFT vice president Sandra Schroeder, who chairs the AFT Higher Education program and policy council, noted that public higher education institutions are facing significant budget cuts. These are resulting in "dramatic changes in higher education staffing, the corporatization of the university's research function, and a higher education system more focused on cutting costs and running like a business than educating students," she said. "It is clear that faculty and staff at these institutions need a greater voice and more collective power within the institution. Organizing a union jointly affiliated with the AFT and the AAUP will be the first step in that direction."

"The AAUP looks forward to reinforcing our long traditions of academic freedom and shared governance through a series of joint organizing campaigns with the AFT. Now more than ever, these values need to be cemented in a collective bargaining contract," said AAUP president Cary Nelson.

"We intend to work hard together to organize in higher education to ensure that students, parents, faculty and the greater public are not shortchanged as higher education institutions continue to evolve," Weingarten added.

The three-year agreement also outlines various policy areas that the AFT will be working on with the AAUP in addition to joint organizing.

September 18, 2008