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Professionalism and Unionism: Academic Freedom, Collective Bargaining, and the American Association of University Professors

By Henry Reichman


The relationship between professionalism and union organizing has been a concern of the AAUP from its inception. Although the organization's founders eschewed unionism, they remained concerned about the status of the profession. Interest in unionism did not become a significant force until the mid-1960s, when the AAUP was compelled to respond both to intensified discontent among faculty with their economic status and to increasingly vigorous organizing by union rivals. By 1972 the AAUP was ready to endorse collective bargaining as an "effective instrument for achieving"  its traditional goals and to trumpet the Association's unique qualifications to shape bargaining consistent with standards of academic freedom and shared governance. Nonetheless, tensions persisted between unionism and the AAUP's traditional work in support of academic freedom. This article argues that it is incorrect to oppose professionalism to unionism and that the tension between the two, while perhaps inevitable, can be constructive.

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