1. Reject Betsy DeVos’s Nomination

    Posted: Feb 7th, 2017

    The AAUP urges the United States Senate to reject Betsy DeVos’s nomination as education secretary.

    Given her documented lack of qualifications and hostility to public education, DeVos is manifestly unqualified for the position. In both ideology and practice she has violated the principles of quality education that the AAUP has defended for over a century. Far from seeing our public schools as a valuable asset, DeVos understands them instead as a source of revenue to fill the pockets of corporate school entrepreneurs. Her privatization schemes have done much damage in several states, especially Michigan. They treat students as widgets in a machine to produce a profit for well-heeled investors. In Ohio, DeVos broke the law by knowingly making illegal campaign contributions through her school choice PAC, resulting in a fine of over $5 million that has yet to be repaid eight years later. This brings her personal ethics and responsibility into question

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  2. Faculty Strike at 14 Campuses

    Posted: Oct 19th, 2016

    The faculty union for the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education announced a strike, starting this morning. The banner at right is from the union’s website.

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  3. Union Victory for Student Employees

    Posted: Aug 25th, 2016

    Dear Colleague,

    In a victory for student employees and unions who represent them, the National Labor Relations Board found today in the case Columbia University that student assistants working at private colleges and universities are statutory employees covered by the National Labor Relations Act. The 3–1 decision overrules a 2004 decision in Brown University, which had found that graduate assistants were not employees and therefore did not have statutory rights to unionize.

    The case was brought by the Graduate Workers of Columbia-GWC, which in 2014 had filed an election petition seeking to represent both graduate and undergraduate teaching assistants, along with graduate and departmental research assistants at the university.

    The AAUP filed an amicus brief with the National Labor Relations Board arguing that graduate assistants at private sector institutions should be considered employees with collective bargaining rights, and that collective bargaining promotes academic freedom. The brief further argued that rather than harming faculty-student mentoring relationships, graduate employee unionization can bring clarity to the employer-employee relationship.

    In reversing Brown, the majority said that the earlier decision “deprived an entire category of workers of the protections of the Act without a convincing justification.” The board also agreed that granting collective bargaining rights to student employees would not infringe on First Amendment academic freedom, nor would it harm the student faculty relationship.

    The National Labor Relations Board exercises jurisdiction over private sector employers, including private, nonprofit universities such as Columbia, and federal courts have made clear that the authority to define the term “employee” rests primarily with the board absent an exception enumerated within the National Labor Relations Act. Since the act does not specifically exclude student assistants from its coverage, the majority found no compelling reason to exclude student assistants from the protections of the Act.

    The AAUP has long been committed to organizing graduate employees and currently represents graduate employees at a number of public sector institutions, where the graduate employees represented by the AAUP have seen significant gains as a result of bargaining.  This decision will allow student employees in the private sector to organize and seek similar improvements.

    –Aaron Nisenson
    AAUP Senior Counsel

  4. A win for workers

    Posted: Mar 30th, 2016

    Dear AAUP Member:

    Today the Supreme Court rejected attempts by anti-union forces to render agency fee unconstitutional in the public sector in the case Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association. The Court upheld an appellate court decision that found agency fee constitutional, stating in full, “The judgment is affirmed by an equally divided Court.” Thus, the law remains as it has for over forty years. This is good news for AAUP unions and for our brothers and sisters throughout working America.

    However, the attacks on agency fee and collective bargaining are far from over. Efforts to eliminate agency fee and otherwise weaken unions are multiplying at the state level and more challenges may be heard by the Supreme Court.

    As always, our best preparation for these challenges is to build a strong union with an active, mobilized membership. We’re proud of the organizing work we have all done this year and look forward to continuing to build the kind of strong, active membership that enables our union to win strong contracts, represent our members, and assure the future of higher education.

    See more information about the Friedrichs case and the AAUP’s legal work on this issue at http://www.aaup.org/friedrichs.

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  5. Improving the Legal Landscape for Unionization at Private Colleges and Universities

    Posted: Nov 24th, 2015

    University and college faculty have a long history of acting collectively. Countering the stereotype of the individual researcher in the lab, the centennial of the AAUP reminds us of the organizational origins of faculty rights of academic freedom and shared governance. Throughout these one hundred years, faculty have organized and acted collectively to protect these rights through faculty senates, college and university committees, AAUP advocacy chapters, and unionization and collective bargaining.


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  6. Read and sign the AAUP Centennial Declaration!

    Posted: Dec 3rd, 2014

    Institutions of higher education are conducted for the common good and not to further the interest of either the individual teacher or the institution as a whole. The common good depends upon the free search for truth and its free exposition.

    -1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure

    1. The university is a public good, not a private profit-making institution, and corporations or business interests should not dictate teaching or research agendas.
    2. The life of a university should reflect all dimensions of human endeavor and be built on the full and open participation of diverse faculty and students.
    3. The main aims of teaching are the dissemination of knowledge and the fostering of creativity; learning is not just about developing “job skills.”
    4. The main aim of research is to create new knowledge, and academic freedom is essential for the free search for truth and its free expression. Research is not just about enhancing the profit margins of corporations.
    5. After teaching and research, the third mission of universities is about engaging communities and addressing social disadvantage, and not just about “enterprise engagement” or “economic development.”
    6. All who work at universities are entitled to a dignified and collegial workplace free of surveillance and authoritarian dictates and to resist the degradation of their working conditions.
    7. Students are the next generation of enlightened and humane citizens, not just revenue streams or the bearers of collateral for unsustainable debt loads.
    8. Information and communications technologies are welcome tools for teaching and research but should not be used to impoverish the quality of education or reduce faculty-student contact time.
    9. University management should resist public education cutbacks and reverse the multiplying of senior management posts, many of which are unnecessary.
    10. Faculty shared governance is the cornerstone of any university that values teaching and research. The authority of faculty in hiring decisions, promotions, and curricular matters should not be compromised by donors, trustees, or administrators. Similarly, the faculty voice in budgeting, institutional planning, and other internal operations should not be marginalized.
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