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Taking a Hard Look at Our Future Starts with Asking the Hard Questions

It’s a Good Time to Revisit Affiliation

Since 2013, UHPA has been functioning as an independent union without a national affiliation. The UHPA board of directors voted to disaffiliate with the National Education Association (NEA) back in 2013 because it was the right thing to do at that time. Now 10 years later, the landscape is changing and perhaps it is a good time to revisit an affiliation with a national union.

Affiliation with a larger, national union offers multiple benefits. However, deciding which one to affiliate with requires due diligence and a deep understanding of UHPA’s needs and direction.

We’ve been Exploring with NEA and AFT

Coincidentally, in 2022, both the National Education Association (NEA) and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) started reaching out to UHPA to assess if UHPA was interested in affiliation. UHPA executive committee members of the board of directors agreed it would be worth looking into what the unions could offer UHPA and its members. UHPA executive committee members of the board gave UHPA Executive Director Christian Fern approval to explore what this would mean for UHPA.

Christian Fern and the UHPA leadership team have been holding multiple conversations and collecting information for the UHPA board of directors to review. UHPA is sharing the findings of these conversations to keep our members updated.

NEA focuses on K-12. AFT Focuses on Higher Education

We have learned that the NEA continuously focuses primarily on representing public education educators for grades K-12 since it represents the largest base of their membership. By contrast, higher education faculty is one of AFT’s focus areas and this is one of the fastest growing segments of AFT’s membership base. It is also important to note that AFT’s constitution is designed so that the rank and file members and leaders actually run the union.

Expect a Series of Key Questions and Answer Articles

We will be publishing a series of questions and answers over the next few weeks to stimulate conversation and discussion over the topic of affiliation with a national union. Leaving no stone unturned, the UHPA Executive Committee intentionally asked questions designed to address the changes to the national as well as local environment affecting higher education, asking uncomfortable questions, challenging the status quo thinking, and inspiring new solutions and ideas.


Feedback is Always Welcomed

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