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Should UHPA Consider Affiliation with the American Federation of Teachers?

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

University faculty across the nation are facing an increasing number of threats to academic freedom and equitable treatment, yet at the same time, there has been a decline in dues-paying union members. This has put faculty in a precarious position. The intersection of these dangerous trends has caused forward-looking local unions to look at ways to bolster their strength by affiliating with national unions such as the American Federation of Teachers (AFT).

Is this something UHPA should consider to ensure UH faculty receive the support they need, now and into the future?

Yes, circumstances today make it difficult for local, stand-alone, independent unions to successfully fulfill their mission and to support and represent their membership. Through an affiliation with AFT, the largest higher education union in the country, UHPA can gain the strength and influence of a larger movement to protect and promote academic freedom, shared university governance, and economic security.

AFT Represents Majority of Higher Education Faculty

AFT represents more than 70% of all unionized faculty in higher education across the nation. Currently, AFT represents more than 300,000 college and university faculty and professional staff on campuses and in university systems across the continental United States and Alaska, including all of UH’s peer and benchmark institutions. It’s safe to say that AFT is in tune and connected to the challenges facing university faculty, as well as, the ability to bring the fight on a local and national scale.

1.7 Million Members Strong

The AFT recently affiliated with the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), which UHPA was once affiliated with before. Altogether, AFT’s membership is staggering. As the largest and fastest-growing union in the AFL-CIO the AFT now has 1.7 million members, and faculty unions represent a growing percentage of this membership base.

A Powerful Partnership

AFT affiliates also preserve their local autonomy which is part of AFT’s core values, and an alliance with the national AFT creates a powerful partnership that can improve the lives of UHPA members and the students that they serve. 

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As always, we’re open to feedback from our members, so please don’t hesitate to email those suggestions to