Collective Bargaining and the AAUP

Article excerpt

Chair, AAUP Collective Bargaining Congress

OR THE FIRST FIFTY YEARS OF ITS EXISTENCE, THE AAUP represented faculty solely as a professional association. Collective bargaining did not arrive at the AAUP until 1967, when the AAUP chapter at Belleville Area Community College in Illinois won an election to represent the college's faculty in collective bargaining. It may be more apocryphal than true, but it's been said that when the chapter called the national office to ask what to do next, the response was something to the effect of, "You did what???" Nonetheless, as interest in unionization grew among college and university faculties in the late 19&Os and early 1970s, the Association began to look more closely at the role of collective bargaining in representing the economic interests of the profession.

In 1968 the Association approved and published its first Policy on Representation of Economic Interests. This statement both recognized the legitimacy of the Association in acting as a bargaining agent and provided policy guidelines for chapters that had achieved representative status. The statement asserted that the Association, by virtue of its principles, programs, and experience, is well qualified to represent faculty in bargaining, and it specifies that the following objectives are attainable through contract negotiations: (a) the protection and promotion of the economic and other interests of the faculty, (b) the establishment of the structures that provide for faculty participation in governance, (c) guarantees of academic freedom and tenure, and (d) orderly and clearly defined procedures for prompt consideration of problems and grievances of faculty members.

Thirty years later, the essence of that statement still defines collective bargaining for the more than sixty AAUP chapters that represent faculty in collective bargaining. In many ways, these chapters are no different from traditional AAUP chapters. They are concerned with upholding the standards and principles set forth in the Association's Redbook, they provide a forum for faculty to discuss professional issues, and they defend the rights of faculty. The difference is that these chapters are certified as bargaining agents for faculty. As such, they also engage in negotiations with the administration on issues of compensation, working conditions, and benefits, and they represent the faculty in grievance and arbitration procedures in cases of alleged contract violation.

Essentially, a collective bargaining agreement puts the legal force of a contract behind the principles of shared governance and due process. …