Looking forward, looking back
On Campus moves online to celebrate AFT’s 100th anniversary
IT WAS MAY 9, 1916, when eight Chicago unions joined together and formed the American Federation of Teachers, their charter signed by American Federation of Labor President Samuel Gompers. Just two years later, the higher education union movement surged forward when professors at Howard University in Washington, D.C., formed the first AFT higher education local in 1918. Other faculty groups followed—in New York, Illinois and California—and began to define the AFT as a progressive and influential player in the movement toward collective bargaining in higher education.
Leading up to the AFT national convention in 2016, we will spend the next year looking back on the many milestones that have brought us to this moment, the AFT’s 100th anniversary. Those milestones reflect our nation’s history: a long era of anti-communism, for example, when two AFT locals had their charters revoked because they had communist leaders; and the civil rights movement, when the AFT stood for racial justice and in 1957 expelled any local unions that refused to admit African-Americans.
As we chronicle our past, share our present and plan our future, we also turn the page on AFT On Campus, which has kept members connected and abreast of higher ed union news for decades. The print publication that began 34 years ago this month is moving to an online-only format.
The first issue of AFT On Campus, in September 1981, was edited by Linda Chavez and included a higher education salary survey showing the highest-paid faculty earned $33,450 a year. More recently, the publication has covered topics ranging from sexual assault on campus to the corporatization of higher education to, in this issue, student debt. For the last 25 years, editor Barbara McKenna, who retired last year, gave us comprehensive articles on the adjunctification of college faculty, community colleges, career and technical education, academic freedom and so much more.
OnCampus OnLine will still offer indepth news and analysis about higher education and labor. The format will be easy to use, with the usual click-for-more-content function so familiar to people who get most of their content online already.
But the digital platform will be more timely, comprehensive and inclusive. There will also be opportunities to comment, submit and take action. We hope OnCampus OnLine will reflect and enrich your lives as faculty members, staff members and unionists in a way that creates community among us, stimulating us professionally and moving us forward toward the common goal of preserving public higher education and the solidarity of our union.
The first official issue of OnCampus On-Line will appear this winter. Sign up so we can send it directly to your email: AFT.to/OnCampus. You will also be able to access it straight from the aft.org website.
Enjoy this last print edition of AFT On Campus.