Press Release

Miami University Librarians Win Union, Join Faculty Alliance of Miami

For Release:


Rachel Makarowski
(540) 848-3404
Theresa Kulbaga
(513) 238-5251
Cathy Wagner

OXFORD, Ohio—Librarians at Miami University have won their union and the power to bargain for better wages and working conditions protected by a legal contract, after a unanimous vote in favor of representation by the Faculty Alliance of Miami, part of the American Association of University Professors and the American Federation of Teachers. The result, 28 to 0, was tallied June 14 at the State Employment Relations Board. The new union will include more than 30 librarians.

The vote comes just weeks after tenured and tenure-track Miami University faculty and longer-term contract faculty, including teaching professors, clinical faculty and lecturers, also unionized overwhelmingly with FAM.

“We will soon be participating meaningfully in important decisions that affect our ability to serve our students,” said web services librarian Ken Irwin.

FAM organizers have been working to organize librarians for over a year. In conversations with colleagues about their working conditions, librarians named a number of key concerns—including having faculty responsibilities without faculty rights or title, a lack of transparency in shared governance and promotions, lagging compensation, and workload—as threats to Miami’s educational mission. The union win will give librarians the power to negotiate in concert with their FAM colleagues for concrete changes that are protected by a legal contract.

“As we face legislative threats to academic freedom and labor rights, higher ed unions are more important than ever. We can work in coalition with other unions to build power to protect freedom of research and learning,” said Cathy Wagner, a professor in the English department.

The decision will have ramifications beyond the university’s campuses. Research shows that increased density of unionized workers in a community positively affects local wages, living standards and democratic rights. FAM now consists of nearly 850 unionized faculty, including FAM-Librarians. FAM organizers say they want to use collective bargaining to promote more stable employment and strengthen the university’s educational mission.

Special collections librarian Rachel Makarowski said she was thrilled to be able to vote “yes” for her librarian union and is heartened by the support of the broader university faculty. Julie Alexander, a teaching professor in the Farmer School of Business, is excited to support her other colleagues as they organize. “We all work together to educate our students, and we will continue to work together as a union, just with separate contracts,” Alexander said.

“As an organizer, I felt that the outcome was never in doubt after talking to so many of our colleagues and acting on their clear mandate,” said science librarian Ginny Boehme. “This victory will give us the pathway to use collective bargaining to improve librarian working conditions that aid student learning and faculty research. We look forward to beginning the bargaining process with the administration.”

AFT President Randi Weingarten said: “Librarians have been bullied and targeted these last two years by extremists who want to ban books and erase access to knowledge. Today the librarians at Miami University took a step to fight for their voice and dignity by voting for a union. They want to be treated like the professionals they are and demand a fair say over the work they do. Their win will give the librarians a seat at the table to bargain a first contract that honors their expertise and improves services for students and faculty. I, and the 1.7 million members of the AFT, welcome them to our union family—we could not be prouder.”

AAUP President Irene Mulvey said: “It is a joy to see librarians at Miami University win their union so overwhelmingly and be able to join their unionized faculty colleagues in building a more just, inclusive and equitable Miami University. Today’s vote is the culmination of months of work at the grass-roots level by dedicated FAM organizers. We are grateful for their vision and determination in ensuring librarians win the rights of a strong union.”

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The AFT represents 1.7 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.