About AFT Higher Education
The AFT represents higher education faculty (both full- and part-time), professional staff and graduate employees, in addition to our preK-12 teachers, paraprofessionals and school-related personnel, healthcare professionals, public employees and early childhood educators.
The history of the AFT’s higher education constituency goes back to the early 20th century, when college faculty began organizing AFT locals soon after the union was formed in 1916. In fact, the first higher education local was the one organized by Howard University faculty in 1918—in Washington, D.C., where the AFT is now headquartered. Soon, AFT locals appeared on the campuses of the University of Illinois and Yale University, and at colleges in New York and California. Since those first college locals were formed, higher education locals have grown to encompass part-time faculty, classified staff and graduate employees, as well as the tenure-track, full-time faculty.
The AFT Higher Education division’s mission is to help our affiliates and their members prosper in the face of political, economic and technological forces challenging the most basic assumptions about the union’s role on campus. Political attacks on public service in general and public higher education in particular have, in part, resulted in:
- tight budgets, as well as anti-union college presidents and boards of trustees;
- exploitation of part-time/adjunct and other nontenure-track faculty, and graduate employees;
- increased intervention from state and federal legislators; and
- attacks on tenure, shared governance and academic freedom.
The AFT Higher Education program and policy council, which represents the interests of higher education members to the larger organization, has developed a Strategic Plan to focus the union’s efforts in addressing the current trends in higher education. In addition, AFT Higher Education’s policy statements on issues such as tenure, shared governance, contingent labor, teacher education and technology offer information and policy guidance, as well as arguments and negotiating strategies to advance the union agenda. AFT Higher Education supplements these publications through both its conferences and its work with other AFT divisions on matters that affect higher education and our locals.
Craig Smith, director, AFT Higher Education; firstname.lastname@example.org.