|This day after Labor Day, in addition to celebrating and appreciating all workers, we celebrate the just-finalized historic alliance between the AAUP and the American Federation of Teachers. Now, together, we represent more higher education workers than any other union. Our game-changing partnership brings together AAUP’s academic expertise and AFT’s power and reach, and creates a movement with the strength of hundreds of thousands of higher education workers. Together, we will be stronger in our work to dismantle systemic racism and fight white supremacy; we vow to bring a racial equity lens to all aspects of all of our work. Together, we will be more effective at beating back outrageous legislative intrusions into the academy—intrusions that obliterate the academic freedom needed for effective teaching, research and free inquiry. Together, we will be united in our efforts to ensure that higher education plays its essential role as a public good in a democracy.|
Because our affiliation builds on our successful joint organizing work, we anticipate bringing even more academic workers into our movement, and we anticipate being able to disseminate AAUP’s essential work on academic freedom and shared governance more broadly throughout the higher education community. We will be working together to organize a more powerful academic labor movement around our principles on campuses, in statehouses, and in Congress.
This has been one of the most invigorating summers of our careers, beginning in June when delegates voted overwhelmingly to ratify the affiliation agreement at the June 2022 Biennial Association Meeting, and continuing into July with the signing of the agreement at the AFT convention to thunderous applause and digital fireworks. Now, as we start the new academic year, we get to work as partners protecting higher education, demanding that higher ed lives up to its promise for everyone. We’ll be fighting with you and for you. It’s an exciting time and we have never been stronger.
Irene Mulvey, AAUP President
Randi Weingarten, AFT President
In September 2021, we announced that the AAUP and the American Federation of Teachers were exploring ways to expand and enhance our very successful ten-plus-year organizing partnership.
We are incredibly proud of the work that AAUP and AFT have done together to organize faculty and graduate employees around the US and to strengthen higher education and the profession. As a result of our partnership, more than twenty thousand faculty and other academic workers are in unions that are jointly represented by the AAUP and the AFT. In addition, we have worked together on important legislative efforts at the federal and state level to expand access to higher education, ensure adequate funding for public institutions, increase Pell grants, and expand academic workers’ right to unionize. AAUP members are already being included in planned student loan debt clinics run by AFT higher ed staff, and AFT members have had the opportunity to attend our Summer Institutes. Since last fall, we’ve been discussing how to best build on our successful organizing work, support our shared commitment to education and the common good, and build a stronger and more inclusive higher education movement.
We don’t believe it’s an exaggeration to say that democracy is hanging on by a thread right now, and a strong higher education movement is part of what’s needed to salvage and strengthen our democracy. In the few months since we started exploring possibilities for affiliation, the attacks on higher education and the common good have increased. Educational gag order legislation aimed at curtailing academic freedom has been introduced in thirty-eight states. We see administrations acquiescing to pressure from governing boards and state legislatures on fundamental issues such as academic freedom, faculty shared governance, and due process. We see state systems launching full assaults on tenure.
At the same time, we see a renewed interest in organizing to confront these challenges among faculty and other academic workers. On campuses where unionization is possible, we see faculty forming organizing committees and starting union campaigns. We also see a renewed interest in building and strengthening advocacy chapters as a vehicle for campus change. The ongoing challenges facing higher education and this renewed interest in organizing underscore the need for solidarity—with our colleagues and within our own organization, to be sure, but also with other organizations and with the academic labor movement as a whole. This affiliation will help all of us—AAUP and AFT Higher Education members together—achieve this.
Irene Mulvey, President
Paul Davis, Vice President
Chris Sinclair, Secretary-Treasurer