Other Universities with Faculty and Academic Staff Unions
If we are successful in winning recognition for our union, we will be in good company. A sample of other universities, many comparable to KU, with recognized faculty unions affiliated with the AFT and AAUP include:
- California State University
- City University of New York
- Florida State University
- Michigan State University
- Oregon State University
- Portland State University
- Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
- State University of New York
- Temple University
- University of Alaska
- University of Central Florida
- University of Cincinnati
- University of Connecticut
- University of Florida
- University of Illinois, Chicago
- University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
- University of Michigan
- University of New Mexico
- University of Oregon
- University of Vermont
- Wayne State University
Other faculty unions in Kansas include Pittsburg State University, Fort Hays State University, and Johnson County Community College.
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.
the Legal Process for Union Recognition
As public employees, the right of KU faculty and academic staff to form a union and collectively bargain are guaranteed by the Public Employer-Employee Relations Act. Under that law, we can ask the Kansas Public Employee Relations Board to certify, through a secret ballot election, that those in the proposed bargaining unit wish to unionize. Once recognized, our union will have the right to seek improvements in the terms and conditions of our employment through “meet and confer” negotiations with KU administration — a process most commonly known as collective bargaining.
In order to get there, we first have to win recognition for our union. Steps to doing that include:
Bargaining unit determination ➜
We will submit a request to the Kansas Public Employee Relations Board (PERB) to determine an appropriate bargaining unit definition, proposing what we believe to be an appropriate unit. KU administration will have an opportunity to weigh in, and PERB will make the final determination if we cannot reach an agreement with the administration. Once determined, the bargaining unit definition will specify who will be eligible to vote in any union recognition election, and who will subsequently be represented by our union.
Submit authorization cards ➜
Once enough faculty and academic staff have signed union authorization cards, we will submit them to PERB, which will verify that the minimum legal threshold (30%) has been met. At this point, PERB will schedule a secret ballot election among the members of the proposed bargaining unit. PERB generally conducts these elections through mail balloting, although an in-person vote is possible as well.
Election held ✓
Should a majority of voters vote “yes”, our union will be recognized! At this point, we will have the right to initiate collective bargaining with the administration and advocate for the improvements that will make KU a better university for all.
NATIONAL AFFILIATIONS AND MEMBERSHIP DUES
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.