30 Year History
Thirty Years of Collective Bargaining at the University of Cincinnati Chapter AAUP*
The UC Chapter of the AAUP began its institutional life during the Second World War as an affiliate of the National AAUP -- the only professional organization whose primary purpose is to enhance the academy by preserving shared governance, faculty and student rights, legal advocacy, and collective bargaining. In 1972 the National AAUP formally recognized collective bargaining, in addition to strident professional advocacy, as a strategy for preserving faculty's role in a free and open society. The UC Chapter was among the first AAUP chapters to organize for collective bargaining.
Financial and workplace conditions at UC during the 1970s made collective bargaining attractive to a beleaguered faculty. After a grassroots UC AAUP organizing drive, the Chapter and University Administration agreed to hold an election for representation on November 7th and 8th, 1974. With 87% of eligible faculty voting, the faculty recognized UC AAUP as the sole legal bargaining representative.** Although public employees had no legal right to recognition, the University Board of Trustees voluntarily recognized the UC AAUP and began negotiations in the spring of 1975.
In terms of service infrastructure, professionalized contract negotiating, and strike solidarity (1979 and 1993), UC AAUP set a standard for maintaining faculty control of the academic workplace. After 1974 the AAUP won health benefits; fought an attempt to abolish sabbaticals; guaranteed shared governance through the Faculty Senate; established faculty governance over college reappointment, promotion, and tenure criteria; created a democratically-elected University Faculty Grievance Committee; and has grappled with a diverse unit including health professions, library, humanities, applied science, and access college faculty. The Chapter recently signed a 2004-2007 Agreement in record time with the help of devoted administration and union negotiating teams.
Since 1974, the business model, consumerism, and corporate influence have ascended the ivory tower, and UC AAUP faces challenges common across the United States. Unrepresented and unprotected contingent workers now perform the larger share of instructional and even research work at many institutions. Commonly, even in cohesive bargaining units, shared governance has been threatened by sophisticated managerial forms that operate along hidden borders of the contract universe. At our own institution, the colossal expansion of the physical plant has for many years trumped much-needed academic financing, affecting our competitiveness in hiring and compensation even while state funding languishes.
Yet our chapter remains a model for both stability and flexibility. Eighty AAUP members have become students once again, this time in the art and discipline of Organizing. This bodes well for building the chapter to majority status. The path is not an easy one, as history will record an uneasy time during the debate over merger with the AFT. Here again, the Chapter responded with solidarity by returning collectively and with uncommon impulse to the mission begun in 1974 - the building of community through academic unionism.
William Carlos Williams observed in verse that "so much depends/upon/a red wheel/barrow." This AAUP Chapter, one of the real institutional workhorses and tolls for change during the long history of this University, has been the red and black wheel barrow of faculty rights and institutional reform. Our task is the same as it was during our founding, and after we achieved collective bargaining thirty years ago - to make ourselves relevant to our society, to engage in the daily experiences of students and faculty at UC, and to cultivate activism and advocacy across the generational, cultural, and disciplinary boundaries that can not, should not, and will not divide us.