Victory for University of Alaska Faculty

By Kelly Hand

In October, following more than a year of difficult negotiations, University of Alaska, United Academics (UNAC), came to a tentative agreement with the administration. After six years without a cost-of-living raise, the AAUP–American Federation of Teachers collective bargaining unit was facing proposed cuts and efforts by the administration to weaken contract language related to academic freedom and to exempt postdoctoral members of the unit from key provisions.

UNAC successfully opposed the cuts, through mediation and legal battles, and secured increases to minimum salaries, across-the-board annual raises ranging from 2.5 to 3 percent over the course of the three-year contract, and guarantees to match any salary increases made possible for other employee groups through legislative appropriations. The unit also won important provisions related to working conditions—including language requiring the administration to address national and local health crises and the option of virtual office hours—and to the status and retention of non-tenure-track members of the unit. An unprecedented level of engagement and activism among UNAC members was critical to this victory. Members picketed in front of meetings of the UA board of regents, signed petitions, sent emails, and donned UNAC T-shirts and caps for their adaptation of the song “Union Maid” to academic labor (available on YouTube). Congratulations to UNAC on a hard-fought victory!