Latest Solidarity Issue

UAW: Uniting Academic Workers

"By unionizing and empowering ourselves through collective bargaining, we addressed issues that were fundamental to our working conditions like pay inequity, low salaries, discrimination, child care and health care benefits."
"We succeeded, even though it was a tough fight to get a union. Today, today workers at Columbia have far superior wages and working conditions as a result of unionizing."

Maida Rosenstein, President,
UAW Local 2110


The UAW is the union of choice for more than 40,000 workers at America’s colleges and universities.

The UAW’s long and strong experience in organizing, bargaining and political action has brought important results for a wide variety of workers at institutions of higher education including:  

  • Pay raises
  • Improved health care benefits
  • Fee and tuition waivers
  • Child care assistance
  • Job security

Is the UAW the right union for you? Many workers in higher education have decided the answer is YES, including:

  • Teaching assistants
  • Research assistants
  • Post-doctoral researchers
  • Adjunct faculty
  • Full-time faculty
  • Administrators
  • Clerical and support staff
  • Technical staff
  • Maintenance workers
  • Tutors, readers and graders
  • Resident assistants

UAW members are workers at a variety of locations coast-to-coast, from New York’s Columbia University to California State University, from Oberlin College in Ohio to Wayne State University in Detroit, from the University of Washington to the University of Massachusetts.

Higher education workers are organizing in response to tighter budgets, increased workloads and a reliance on part-time and contingent employees by colleges and universities.

For example:

  • The largest group of post-doctoral researchers in the U.S. -- nearly 6,000 in the University of California system – have organized to become part of the UAW.
  • Over 500 clerical, technical and shipping and receiving workers are UAW members at Wayne State University in Detroit, one of Michigan’s largest universities. UAW Local 2071 president Judy McClusty says that number is growing with the recent addition of members from WSU’s housing department and post office.
  • Teaching assistants (TAs), Research Assistants (RAs) and Graduate Assistants (GAs) at the University of Massachusetts have been UAW members since 1996, after a multi-year campaign ended with a unanimous vote for unionization. Members recently negotiated a new three-year contract that includes major gains, including higher pay, lower student fees and lower costs for workers’ health care. .
  • More than 2,000 adjunct faculty, members of UAW Local 7920, won an “amazing” first contract agreement at the New School in New York in 2005. Richard Boris of the City University of New York, an expert on collective bargaining in higher education, said at the time the UAW-negotiated pact ““might well serve as a template for contingent faculty throughout the country."
  • This year, negotiating their second agreement Local 7920 members won another landmark deal. Despite negotiating in the midst of a severe economic downturn, New School adjuncts won across-the-board pay raises as well as enhanced family leave protections for part-time faculty members. “Unionizing and empowering ourselves,” says Maida Rosenstein, president of UAW Local 2110, is the way to achieve “superior wages and working conditions.” Local 2110 represents workers on several New York-area campuses, including Columbia University, Barnard College, Mercy College, Teachers College and Union Theological Seminary.