Wright State University economics professor Rudy Fichtenbaum was elected last month along with other members of a slate called “AAUP Organizing for Change” and will take office in June.
His election marks a turn for the AAUP away from its traditional role of issuing policy statements on issues such as academic freedom and towards union organizing. That’s a big change for the 47,000-member nonprofit and comes despite significant barriers to college faculty unionization.
Fichtenbaum, who quotes Karl Marx on his faculty home page, said in a written statement that the AAUP should make labor organizing “to defend our profession and genuinely reform higher education” its highest priority:
We believe that higher education in general and the AAUP in particular stand at a critical crossroads. Everywhere our profession and its values are under assault. Attacks on collective bargaining rights and shared governance, the abuse of non-tenure track faculty (both full-time and part-time) and consequent erosion of tenure, the misplaced priorities of politicians and many university leaders, and assaults on the free expression rights of both faculty and students are increasing. To meet these challenges faculty in general and the AAUP in particular must move beyond our traditional modes of defense, invaluable as these are.
And at this April 2011 SB 5 campaign event, Fichtenbaum called SB 5 and Gov.John Kasich’s budget ”part of a well-financed plan to undermine the standard of living for working Americans.” Post-Citizens United, he said:
Organized labor is one of the only forces standing in the way of complete and unfettered domination and control of our polical system by big corporations.