3:00 pm to 5:00 pm
“Why They Were Members of a Teachers Union: College Faculty and the AFT”
Timothy Cain, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Commentators: Lisa Philips, Indiana State University and Joe Berry, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
This paper examines college teachers’ unions between 1928 and 1941, a period during which the American Federation of Teachers chartered more than four dozen locals on college campuses. Focusing on the arguments for faculty unionization and considering the locals’ corresponding activities, the paper demonstrates that faculty joined the AFT for political reasons, to influence K-12 education, and to improve their own working conditions. Many others, though, rejected these efforts, and with the expulsion of the New York College Teachers Union and the ensuing membership struggles related to World War II, this era of faculty unionization came to an end.