Union membership on college and university campuses grew significantly between 2013 and 2019, even as it declined outside academe, according to an analysis by the National Center for the Study of Collective Bargaining in Higher Education and the Professions at Hunter College of the City University of New York. In the time period studied, 118 new faculty bargaining units formed, representing more than 36,000 professors at both public and private institutions. The number of bargaining units at private institutions jumped 81 percent, mostly due to adjunct faculty union growth.
Sixteen new graduate student employee units also formed from 2013 onward, representing some 19,600 graduate workers. Eleven of these are at private institutions, compared to zero such units in 2012; eight units already have contracts. The center attributes this to the Obama-era National Labor Relations Board decision in private graduate workers’ favor. Things have stalled somewhat on this front during the Trump administration, however. Postdoctoral scholars are organized, as well: there are now more than 14,000 postdocs and academic researchers in bargaining units at six public sector institutions and six private, nonprofit institutions, according to the center.