Why should I join a union?

According to the AAUP, in addition to improving pay rates, leave time, and health coverage, academic unions provide the following benefits:

  • Unions enable faculty and other members of the academic community to safeguard their teaching and working conditions by pooling their strengths.
  • Unions make it possible for different sectors of the academic community to secure contractual, legally enforceable claims on college administrations and boards, at a time when reliance on traditional advice and consent has proved inadequate.
  • Unions provide members with critical institutional analyses—of budget figures, enrollment trends, and policy formulations—that would be unavailable without the resources provided by member dues and national experts.
  • Unions increase the legislative influence and political impact of the academic community as a whole by maintaining regular relations with state and federal governments and collaborating with affiliated labor organizations.
  • Unions reinforce the collegiality necessary to preserve the vitality of academic life under such threats as deprofessionalization and fractionalization of the faculty, privatization of public services, and the expanding claims of managerial primacy in governance.

A fundamental difference between unions and advocacy organizations is that unions demand power. Rather than taking on individual issues as they arise, and falling into a cycle of endlessly putting out fires, unions demand a seat at the table so that workers can help shape the policies that impact their lives and work. Unlike institutional governance bodies, like a faculty senate or graduate student government, unions are independent organizations that cannot be disbanded, directed, or obstructed by the administration.


How much are AFTA dues and what are they for?

AFT Academics dues are $11/month for all members.

As a union AFT Academics is funded entirely by the dues of AFT members. This funding structure ensures that members control their union and have the resources they need to do the organizing they believe in. Dues are also how unions turn small contributions into a pool of resources that allows working people to meaningfully stand up to deep pocketed employers and anti-union organizations.

Ready to join? Sign up here!

What does it mean to be a member of AFTA?

AFT Academics members are associate or “at large” members of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT). As an AFT Academics member you can participate in national advocacy efforts with fellow union members across the country, or work with AFT Academics union organizers and your local colleagues to begin building power and winning change on your own campus. Learn more about membership here.

How do I get involved with AFTA?

You can contact AFT Academics union organizers to ask questions, share work experiences, or learn more about membership and organizing here. If you are ready to become a card carrying union member you can sign up here.

I'm experiencing an urgent issue at work. Can AFTA help?

If you are experiencing workplace issues at your college or university and you are not sure what to do, please contact us. While we do our best to support and advise when challenges arise, please understand that the law and/or your local level of organization may limit what we can do to assist you. Learn more about your rights here.


Should I join a union if I like my job or hold a privileged position in my workplace?

Absolutely! Unions aren’t just good for changing things that you and your colleagues don’t like, they’re also great at preserving the things you love about your job. While having a union is a powerful defense when crises do occur at work, the best time to organize a union is before things go wrong. Building a strong union takes time so it is not always possible to address an urgent issue in a timely manner if there is no organization in place.

Can I be fired for joining or supporting AFTA?

 No. You have constitutional rights to freedom of speech and association, which includes the right to join a union. Most workers are also covered by federal or state laws that guarantee their right to organize and explicitly forbid employers from retaliating against employees who participate in organizing.

That said, we know that employers do not always respect their employees’ rights, and that fear is one of the main obstacles to organizing for countless workers. As part of the largest higher education union in the country, AFTA organizers know how to help you stay safe while you begin to organize for the working conditions you deserve. 

I live in a "Right to Work" state, can I still join AFTA?

Yes! Right-to-work laws are intended to bust unions, but they do not actually prevent you and your colleagues from joining a union, forming a new union, or engaging in collective action to improve your working conditions. Learn more about right-to-work laws here.