University of Kansas Faculty Wins Vote to Unionize, 850 Yes 132 No

The newly formed United Academics of the University of Kansas represents over 1,550 faculty members at the institution. Photo credit: Will Crow.

Posted April 29, 2024

Faculty at the University of Kansas voted to unionize, citing competitive wages and health concerns as driving factors of the vote.

More than 1,550 full-time, part-time tenured and nontenure-track KU faculty are now represented by United Academics of the University of Kansas (UAKU). The union is joined by the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT).

Faculty cited competitive wages, job security, safety and health concerns around aging and unkept classrooms and buildings as major issues informing the vote, according to a release from AAUP. Furthermore, the release cites that KU’s salaries rank thirty-fourth out of thirty-eight public institutions regarding the Association of American Universities.

Following a month of main-in voting, ballots were cast on Thursday, resulting in 850 yes and 132 no votes.

“Faculty and academic staff are coming together to fight for a better KU; and today, we voted resoundingly to have our voices heard on the critical issues facing our university,” Kate DeJarnette, clinical assistant professor in the Department of Speech-Language-Hearing, said. “We’re eager to get to work making KU a better place to study, teach and perform world-class research.”

UAKU will begin to bargain a first contract with the KU administration to improve compensation, strengthen job security and protect academic voices during tumultuous times on campus and throughout higher education, according to the release.

“By voting overwhelmingly to unionize, we now have a seat at the table to advocate for the needs of our university and the students we serve,” Lisa-Marie Wright, associate teaching professor in the department of sociology, said. “Our students deserve excellent, well-supported faculty, and that’s what we’ll fight for.”