Union basics

Other Universities with Faculty and Academic Staff Unions

Faculty unions are an increasingly common part of the higher education landscape in the United States. In recent years, new faculty unions have formed at the University of New Mexico, the University of Oregon, the University of Illinois at Chicago, and many other institutions. 

Our national affiliates, the American Association of University Professors and the American Federation of Teachers, together represent over 300,000 members in higher education, the largest such alliance in the country.


Unions are member-supported organizations which collect dues to fund operations and support our priorities, including organizing, professional development, legislative lobbying, collective bargaining, legal services, and contract enforcement. Membership and payment of dues will be voluntary, but by becoming members and funding our union ourselves, we can ensure that faculty and academic staff have a strong, independent voice that is not beholden to other interests.

Higher education union dues in the United States are typically between 1% and 2% of salary. The exact amount of our union’s dues will be determined through a vote of the membership, and collection of dues will not begin until after we successfully bargain and ratify our first contract.

Our affiliation with two larger unions in higher education provides resources, experience, and support during the organizing and collective bargaining process. Once we are established, our national affiliation also provides an ongoing community of faculty engaged in similar union efforts around the country, with opportunities for regular conferences, training, and national or statewide campaign work.

These two unions are the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), an affiliate of the AFT. The AFT and AAUP have a long history of successful faculty union organizing campaigns, including at the University of New Mexico, Oregon State University, the University of Oregon, the University of Alaska, the University of Illinois Chicago, the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, and the University of Vermont.

What is the American Federation of Teachers?

The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) is a union of professionals that champions fairness; democracy; economic opportunity; and high-quality public education, healthcare and public services for our students, their families and our communities.

The AFT, founded in 1916, has over 1.7 million members in more than 3,200 locals and 40 state federations who work in higher education, early childhood education, K-12 schools, healthcare professions, and public services. A member-driven organization, AFT is headed by an executive board elected by its membership at a biennial national convention. AFT is one of the largest higher education unions nationally, with over 300,000 higher education members, including full- and part-time faculty, professional staff, and graduate employees.

To find out more about the American Federation of Teachers please visit http://www.aft.org and www.aft.org/highered.

What is the American Association of University Professors?

The mission of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) is to advance academic freedom and shared governance; to define fundamental professional values and standards for higher education; to promote the economic security of faculty, academic professionals, graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, and all those engaged in teaching and research in higher education; to help the higher education community organize to make our goals a reality; and to ensure higher education’s contribution to the common good. 

Founded in 1915, the AAUP has helped to shape American higher education by developing the standards and procedures that maintain quality in education and academic freedom in this country’s colleges and universities.

AAUP has over 50,000 members in both collective bargaining and advocacy chapters around the United States. With union chapters throughout the country, the AAUP is a member-led organization committed to strengthening the voice of faculty. In 2022, the AAUP became an affiliate of the AFT.

To find out more about the American Association of University Professors, please visit www.aaup.org.