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Statement on Collective Bargaining

The statement that follows was initially adopted in 1973 and revised in 1984, 2009, and 2017. It was approved by the Association’s Committee on Representation of Economic and Professional Interests, adopted by the Association’s Council in November 1993, and endorsed by the Eightieth Annual Meeting. The AAUP Council approved a minor revision of the statement in 2009 and a major revision in 2017.


The American Association of University Professors supports collective bargaining as a means to advance the goals of the organization. The Association is committed to protecting academic freedom, institutions of faculty governance, fair procedures for resolving grievances, the economic well-being of faculty and other academic professionals, and the advancement of the interests of higher education. Collective bargaining is an effective instrument for achieving these objectives, and therefore the Association supports the right of faculty, other academic professionals, and graduate students to form unions. As a national organization that has historically played a major role in formulating and implementing the principles that govern relationships in academic life, the Association promotes collective bargaining to reinforce and secure the principles of academic freedom and tenure, fair workplace procedures, and the economic security of the profession. Moreover, a union can provide all those who teach and conduct research in higher education with an effective voice in decisions that vitally affect its members’ professional well-being, such as the allocation of financial resources and determination of salaries and benefits.

The Association further affirms that collective bargaining ensures that all academic professionals have an effective role in the governance of institutions. Tenure-line and non-tenure-line faculty, graduate employees, and academic professionals at both public and private institutions are entitled to choose to engage in collective bargaining in order to ensure an effective role in the governance of the institution. Trustees and administrators should maintain neutrality and allow academic workers to determine for themselves whether they would like to be represented by a union. They should not resort to litigation or other means having the purpose or effect of restraining or coercing the faculty in its choice of collective bargaining. Where a group of employees chooses collective bargaining, trustees and administrators have an obligation to bargain in good faith with the union and should not resort to litigation or any other means intended to avoid this obligation.

The presence of institutions of faculty governance does not preclude the need for or usefulness of collective bargaining. On the contrary, collective bargaining can be used to increase the effectiveness of those institutions by extending their areas of competence, defining their authority, and strengthening their voice in areas of shared authority and responsibility.

Policy for Collective Bargaining Chapters

1. When a chapter of the Association enters into collective bargaining, it has an obligation to

a. protect and promote the professional and economic interests of all faculty and other academic professionals it represents in accordance with the established principles of the Association;
b. support and strengthen institutional structures of representative governance that provide full participation by the faculty and other academic professionals it represents in accordance with the established principles of the Association;
c. defend academic freedom, tenure, and the rights of all academic professionals in accordance with the principles and stated policies of the Association;
d. establish and execute due-process procedures for the grievances of members of the bargaining unit, to which procedures any affected individual or group shall have access; and
e. protect and promote racial and social justice in the chapter, on campus, and in the AAUP.

2. Collective bargaining chapters also have an obligation to maintain the principle of shared authority and responsibility and a climate of mutual concern, respect, and trust. Therefore, the Association believes that employees and administrations in collective bargaining should seek mutual agreement on methods of dispute resolution, such as mediation, fact-finding, or arbitration. Where such agreement cannot be reached and where disputes prove themselves resistant to rational methods of discussion, persuasion, and conciliation, the Association recognizes that resort to economic pressure through strikes or other work actions may be a necessary means of dispute resolution.

Given the power differential between faculty and administration, lockouts are an unacceptable tactic for resolution of disputes between faculties and administrations.

Participation in a strike or other work action does not constitute grounds for dismissal, nonreappointment, or other sanctions against faculty members. Permanent replacement of striking faculty members solely for participation in a strike or other job action is equivalent to dismissal. Moreover, if action against a faculty member is proposed on the basis of participation in a strike, as on any ground encompassed by the 1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure, the proceedings must satisfy the requirements of academic due process supported by the Association. The Association will protect the interests of members of the profession who are singled out for punishment on grounds that are inadequate or unacceptable, or who are not afforded all the protections demanded by the requisites of academic due process.