This Q&A is part of a continuing series that we introduced with the “Taking a Hard Look at Our Future Starts with Asking the Hard Questions” article
Isn’t it true that the political arm of AFT is the most committed supporter of Democrats (>99% of candidates) of any similar union?
A recent concern that was expressed by a UHPA member was that a UHPA-AFT affiliation would NOT be a good idea because the AFT is the most committed supporter of Democrats (>99% of candidates) of any similar union, which is not appropriate; leads to extreme bias; results in a lack of diversity, fairness, and equity; and that a one-party system will not bring a balanced perspective.
Times Have Changed
AFT’s political records do reflect that the organization has endorsed and supported a large majority of Democrats over Republicans in national and local races. However, the AFT records show that this was not the case back over 40 years ago when AFT endorsed both Democrats and Republicans. Throughout the years, the positions of the Republican party have evolved which, unfortunately, are not in alignment with the best interests of our faculty as well as institutions of higher education. The party’s fiscal conservatism focuses on lower taxes, smaller government, free market capitalism, free trade, deregulation of corporations, and most importantly restrictions on labor unions. From an academic standpoint, the Republicans’ push to remake higher education in their conservative vision is concerning. From Florida, Texas, and Ohio, we are witnessing the direct assault and hostility over academic freedom by legislation intended to limit certain courses or the teaching of certain topics such critical race theory and intersectionality, restrict or end faculty tenure, and to defund and ban diversity, equity, and inclusion in higher education.
Written In Their Platforms
The 2020 National Party Platforms also show the difference between the parties on higher education priorities and union rights. The Democratic party platform affirms tenure rights and academic freedom principles (see page 70), while the Republican party platform talks about ideological bias being “deeply entrenched within the current university system” (see page 35). The Democratic party platform also includes explicit commitments to support the right to form and join a union and bargain collectively, and to support the creation of union jobs (a word search for “union” retrieves almost two dozen examples).
Their Ideology Isn’t Self-Contained
As we have experienced and witnessed first hand with our own single party dominated political system in Hawai‘i, the Republican party platform has already been pushed by our own local Democratic elected officials who have in the past several years have attempted to restrict and do away with tenure, line item elimination of faculty positions with incumbents via budgetary bills, reduced general funds to support the UH, and attempted to micromanage the university under the guise of “matters of Statewide concern.” With the UH Presidential search now underway and many uncertainties ahead for our State’s only public institution, there is no greater time and need for UHPA to be in tune with all the attacks on higher education occurring across the country as we prepare for what is to come.
Feedback is Always Welcomed
As always, we’re open to feedback from our members, so please don’t hesitate to email those suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.