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KU Faculty and Academic Staff Announce Union Organizing Effort

Congratulations to the faculty and academic staff at KU who today have officially announced the organizing campaign to create the United Academics of the University of Kansas (UAKU)!

UAKU would represent over 1,500 full-time and part-time tenured and nontenure-track faculty; teaching, research, clinical and online professors; lecturers; curators; librarians; scientists who conduct grant-funded research; and other categories of faculty and academic staff. The union would be affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers and the American Association of University Professors.

To read more about UAKU and, for eligible faculty and staff at KU, to request an authorization card, please visit You can also find UAKU on Twitter at @WeAreUAKU and on Facebook.

“KU has long enjoyed high rankings for academics and recognition as a premier research university, but that status is at risk. Faculty and academic staff need a voice in decisions, especially when the student experience is at stake,” said Lisa-Marie Wright, an associate teaching professor in the Department of Sociology.

UAKU pointed to several issues that prompted the organizing campaign: KU’s recent attempt to suspend tenure and its over-reliance on short-term contracts for many teaching faculty, no voice in major decisions about academic programs, stagnant wages that are not competitive with other flagship universities, and a decline in state funding that hinders the kind of world-class research that benefits all Kansans.

“A union will help us retain outstanding teachers and researchers who provide the quality of education our students deserve,” said Berl Oakley, a distinguished professor in the Department of Molecular Biosciences.

“Collaboration is the best way to solve problems, but that can only be accomplished when faculty and academic staff have a recognized union. With a union, we can advocate for what’s best for our students and the university as a whole,” said Stephanie Meehan, a clinical associate professor in the Department of Speech-Language-Hearing.

UAKU said it has been inspired by successful faculty organizing efforts on campuses nationwide, most recently at Miami University in Ohio, the University of New Mexico, the University of Oregon and the University of Illinois Chicago. More than 300,000 faculty and staff at universities across the country already belong to AFT- and AAUP-affiliated unions. In Kansas, other faculty unions include Pittsburg State University, Fort Hays State University and Johnson County Community College.

Faculty and staff celebrated the start of the campaign at the kickoff event today in Lawrence, KS.

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