KU faculty members file for union election

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Post updated at 2:35 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 21:

A majority of KU faculty have signed cards to file for a union, the United Academics of the University of Kansas announced Wednesday, moving the group closer to a union election.

The Public Employee Relations Board in Topeka will now review the filing and begin to define a bargaining unit and discuss a timeline for an election. PERB is the governing body for public sector labor unions in the state of Kansas.

“If Chancellor (Douglas) Girod and his team are willing, we will define our bargaining unit and a swift timeline for the election in a mutually agreed upon way,” UAKU said on their social media. “That process, however, will be significantly delayed if the administration raises objections.”

The union would represent full-time and part-time tenured and nontenured faculty — as well as teaching, research, clinical and online professors, lecturers, curators, librarians, scientists who conduct grant-funded research and other categories of faculty and academic staff, according to a previous news release.

The union, which would be the fourth university faculty union in the state of Kansas, would be affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers and the American Association of University Professors.

The group has been pushing for a faculty union for nearly a year. Currently, faculty are allowed to make recommendations on university rules and policy. UAKU says a union would allow them a more equitable voice in university governance. 

“University of Kansas leaders look forward to continued conversations with faculty, staff and students about ways to move the university forward,” Erinn Barcomb-Peterson, a spokesperson for KU, said via email Thursday.

Faculty unions are increasingly common at universities across the country. At KU, graduate teaching assistants have had a union, the Graduate Teaching Assistants Coalition, since 1993.

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