New AAUP Executive Director Brings Collective Bargaining Cred

The AAUP national organization has appointed Julie Schmid its new executive director, effective October 2013. Julie comes to the AAUP from AFT-Wisconsin, where she has worked since 2008 and served as chief of staff since 2012. She brings to her new post extensive experience in higher education, collective bargaining, and the legislative issues that affect both, experience that includes serving on the front lines of defense against the legislative attacks on public-sector collective bargaining in Wisconsin in 2011.

As senior program officer in the AAUP’s Department of Organizing and Services (2002 to 2008), Julie helped to lead the successful organization of faculty bargaining units at Michigan Tech and the University of Akron. In 2008, she became the director of AFT-Wisconsin, and in that role she was instrumental in the campaign to unionize the faculty and staff of the University of Wisconsin system.

Julie rejoins the AAUP at a critical time and is uniquely poised to understand the challenges faced by bargaining-unit chapters like ours. At a time when Gov. Rick Snyder and the state legislature seem bent on bringing the Scott Walker agenda to Michigan — an agenda designed to decimate public-sector unions (and the middle class), dictated largely by ALEC (which has already been busy here in Michigan) and pushed by organizations like the Mackinac Center that are funded heavily by the Koch brothers and the DeVos family — Julie’s appointment is good news for such chapters, many of which have been frustrated in recent years by the national organization’s apparent lack of interest in supporting the collective-bargaining work on our campuses or helping us stand up to legislative overreach.

In her statement, Julie speaks to many of the key issues on the minds of our own faculty here at WMU. Here is an excerpt:

I am excited to serve as the AAUP’s executive director because this is where the fight is. US higher education is in crisis. We are four decades into a radical defunding of state institutions of higher education. Faculty salaries are stagnant, while students are asked to pay more and more for their education. The overuse and exploitation of contingent faculty and graduate student employees continues. Academic freedom is under attack, and faculty senates have seen their voices diminished—sometimes because of administrative overreach and sometimes because the faculty has not exercised the power it has. And collective bargaining—which in many instances has proven to be an important means for bettering the working conditions of faculty members and academic professionals and for maintaining academic quality—is now under attack.

The AAUP is the conscience of the profession. For nearly a century, the AAUP has defined professional standards for higher education and vigorously defended those standards when they have come under attack. And for nearly half that time, the AAUP has epitomized faculty unionism by organizing strong collective bargaining chapters and by enshrining AAUP principles and policies in collective bargaining agreements.

You can read the statement in its entirety here and learn more about Julie here.