Pending approval by AFT delegates, agreement will take effect August 1
On June 16th, after several hours of review and debate on the floor, delegates to the National AAUP biennial meeting in Washington, D.C., approved the recommendation from the national Executive Council to enter into affiliate status with the American Federation of Teachers (AFT). The “yes” vote was 92.9%. (You can see the National AAUP statement on this vote here.)
This formal agreement with the AFT is not a merger, but does formalize a years-long, growing partnership between AFT and AAUP to organize new union locals on campuses across the United States. With 1.7 million members, the AFT’s financial resources, combined with the AAUP’s expertise in higher education issues, has been very successful in many of those union drives.
While the majority of AFT members are K-12 teachers, it is a diverse group of public sector employees in this day and age, with members from nursing and other healthcare professions, higher education faculty and staff, paraprofessionals and other K-12 related personnel, and government employees. The combined higher education union membership of AFT and AAUP would be over 300,000 across the country.
Presuming a “yes” vote by AFT delegates at their meeting on July 14th, on August 1st, all AAUP Chapters will also become official members of the AFL-CIO at the local, state, and national levels. Likewise, AAUP Chapters also become part of their state-level AFT organizations, with votes at the table.
The 5-year formal agreement is detailed, with the major points of interest being the continuance of and protections for AAUP’s independence, both in its internal governance and its work around academic freedom and shared governance issues. Both parties will monitor the day-to-day realities of living out the new agreement, with the intention of working out any problems that might arise along the way.
“What does this mean for me?”
For the AAUP member on the ground, nothing will change on August 1. Except that, as a member of an affiliated union, you will then be eligible for many benefits that are available to AFT members. Those include many items, either free or at low group rates, such as:
- Identity protection
- Trauma counseling
- AD&D, Occupational & Professional Liability and other kinds of insurance
- Pet insurance
- Group discount programs for major purchases and travel
Once the AFT National delegates have approved the agreement, a package will be sent to Chapter members’ homes via U.S. Post with more information on benefits that would be available.