2011: Resolution on Priorities

The following resolution was passed by the AAUP national Council in 2011.

Both higher education in general and the AAUP specifically stand at a crossroads.   Assaults on collective bargaining, the steady erosion of shared governance, and the ever-expanding abuse of part-time and contingent faculty have escalated to the point that the very future of academic freedom – and of the AAUP itself – are at stake.  In this context, the National Council designates the following two majority priority areas for the entire organization, including both activists and staff.

The principal priority is to build the AAUP by increasing membership in both advocacy and collective bargaining chapters, organizing new chapters, and facilitating greater levels of activism among members.  Without increasing both the numbers and involvement of our membership, the AAUP will not be able to meet successfully the challenges faced by our profession.

This means AAUP staff and leaders should seek to increase membership and involve greater numbers of faculty, graduate students, and other academic professionals wherever feasible and in all areas of work.  In addition, the organization should focus its organizing in a series of campaigns strategically designed to build membership and activity in both collective bargaining and advocacy chapters.

With respective to collective bargaining, such campaigns include ongoing efforts at New Mexico State, University of Oregon, and University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, and any other organizing drive initiated either independently or in conjunction with AFT.  The Executive Committee of the CBC in coordination with the DOS staff shall determine which specific campaigns are of greatest priority.

With respect to advocacy, the focus should be on building membership and involvement in specified geographic areas or large institutions and systems where AAUP has recently played an active role in defense of faculty rights (e.g. Louisiana), where faculty rights are under intensified assault (e.g., Texas, where the state’s plan to measure “faculty productivity” poses a potential national threat), or where new faculty activity or interest has been emerging (e.g., Tennessee and some University of California campuses).

In this activity, the AAUP must maintain its independent and special role, but wherever possible we should collaborate with other faculty unions, especially through our joint agreement with AFT; with contingent faculty groups; with national, state, and local education coalitions; and, where appropriate, with disciplinary organizations.
Efforts to expand and activate membership will be fruitless if the organization cannot provide concrete services and support to state conferences, collective bargaining units, advocacy chapters, and the membership as a whole.  Therefore, a second priority is to improve the Association’s work in providing service to its membership, by providing new and additional resources for organizing, by improving access to AAUP policy documents, publications, databases, etc., and by responding promptly and effectively to member inquiries and requests.  Both AAUP staff and leadership at the national and state levels must maintain regular contact with chapters and strive, as feasible, to assist their work, especially when chapters report attacks on faculty rights.

It is critically important to emphasize that these priorities must not be implemented in a manner that might undermine AAUP’s ongoing and crucial efforts in support of academic freedom and shared governance through our system of investigations and actions and in the legal arena.  Policy development can also be an organizing tool, as is intervening in critical court cases.  Indeed, as assaults on faculty intensify, demand for these efforts will undoubtedly increase.  Successes In these areas can and must support our organizing work.  For instance, the legal department’s recent work to develop fact sheets outlining state-specific legal requirements for lobbying and organizing efforts exemplify how efforts in all areas can be coordinated to advance organizing.  However, it is also important to recognize that if the AAUP does not succeed in significantly expanding our membership and its level of involvement in the Association, our ability to continue our signature efforts to address challenges to academic freedom will be threatened.”