University professors vote to join with AFT

Arlington, VA – Ratifying what had been forecast for months, American Association of University Professors (AAUP) conference delegates voted June 18 to formally affiliate with the American Federation of Teachers.

The relationship strengthens a 10-year partnership, especially on the issue of academic freedom, between AAUP – which has concentrated on that issue for more than a century – and the much larger AFT.

AAUP, which has 44,000 members, “will maintain its independence and autonomy,” President Irene Mulvey, a Fairfield (Conn.) University mathematics professor, said after the vote at AAUP’s biennial meeting, held in Arlington, Va.

She said the aim of both unions was, “to build a more powerful and inclusive academic Labor Movement that will be better able to take on the challenges facing higher education as well as the threats to our democracy.”

The 1.7-million-member AFT includes almost 300,000 members in higher education. Some 20,000 educators are already in dual AFT-AAUP affiliates.

“Working together, we will be much better equipped to take on the challenges facing higher education: Anti-intellectual attacks on the teaching of history, legislative intrusion into the academy, disinvestment and chronic underfunding of public higher education and the resulting casualization of academic workers,” Mulvey said.

Teachers President Randi Weingarten, a New York City civics teacher, sounded the same themes and added joint organizing to the mix.

“Through this affiliation, we double down on the work to make colleges and universities excellent places to teach and learn, and to join forces to battle the ongoing threats to academic freedom and democracy.

“We will marshal forces to better fight for the necessary resources for postsecondary education to thrive, and we’ll organize to make academic jobs more sustainable and the promise of higher education more accessible to all,” she said.

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