AAUP–Penn supports the right of workers at the Penn Museum to unionize. We further insist that the management of the Museum must maintain neutrality in this election process. As a chapter of the American Association of University Professors we stand unequivocally for workplace democracy and for the right to organize, and we are disturbed by what we hear from allies of the organizers quoted here:

“Workers at the Penn Museum recently filed for an NLRB election to unionize and join AFSCME DC47, Museum and Cultural Workers Local 397. Although a supermajority of eligible staff signed cards authorizing DC47 as their collective bargaining agent, the Penn Museum and University administration have been conducting an aggressive anti-union campaign: bombarding staff with emails full of misleading information; repeatedly encouraging union-eligible employees to vote no; and holding captive-audience meetings with managers to spread anti-union talking points. The University of Pennsylvania prides itself on studying and advocating for democracy, but Museum Workers also have the right to democracy in their workplace.”

Such anti-union activity must cease, and workers at Penn and everywhere must be allowed to organize without interference or intimidation.

Introducing AAUP–Penn
We are proud to announce the formation of the University of Pennsylvania chapter of the American Association of University Professors. AAUP–Penn is a membership organization that advocates for shared university governance, equitable work conditions for all employees, and a just university that meets its obligations to the city and the community. We welcome members from all departments and schools at Penn, and we apply the broadest definition of faculty: all those employed primarily in teaching and/or research at a professional level regardless of title, including standing faculty, contingent faculty, graduate scholars and instructors, postdoctoral fellows, and librarians and instructional technicians whose work is substantially involved in research or teaching.

About AAUP
Founded in 1915, the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) has advocated for academic freedom and job security, shared governance that prioritizes the voice of faculty, and social equality for over a century. It helps to define professional ethics in higher education and to set pedagogical standards for teaching and learning that foster a just society. AAUP centers meaningful faculty participation in institutional decision-making, defines equitable policies of academic employment and promotion, and builds solidarity across campuses. It represents academic employees of universities and colleges in labor disputes and fights for the economic security of the profession.

Why Join
Penn faculty have come together both in response to local concerns about administrative decision-making and at a moment of wider concern about the future of higher education in the U.S. We take this step in good company, alongside forty other new AAUP chapters that have formed in the past two years. We believe in higher education for the common good, and we stand for a more egalitarian conception of the university, for racial justice and gender equality on and off campus, and for a deeper structural commitment to the Philadelphia communities that enable us to function. Joining our chapter by joining AAUP gives members a direct voice in shaping our advocacy, and it is an important expression of solidarity with colleagues of all ranks at Penn and across the profession.

Our Goals
AAUP–Penn’s broadest goals are to promote meaningfully shared governance, to secure better work conditions for all employees, and to advocate for the most vulnerable members of our community and ensure stronger material support for the city. We summarize under these headings some specific goals proposed by members:

Shared University Governance

  • Faculty involvement in policy and budgetary decisions affecting our work and our community
  • Decision-making at the central and school levels that prioritizes Penn’s research and teaching mission and rejects the call for austerity
  • Greater transparency regarding Penn’s budget

Better Work Conditions

  • Job security, fair compensation, and full benefits for staff and for all Penn workers
  • Clear and stable terms of employment for adjunct faculty
  • Fair pay and job security for lecturers and for all contingent faculty
  • Adequate and affordable childcare for faculty and graduate employees
  • Funding and time extensions to allow all current Penn graduate researchers to complete their programs successfully
  • Better institutional support for junior faculty, many of whom are heavily burdened by lack of childcare and other unaccommodated care demands on top of increased workloads during the pandemic
  • Equitable compensation at all ranks, to remedy glaring inequities in salary and promotion for women and faculty of color 
  • Recognition of uneven workloads and service expectations within ranks, which have intensified during the pandemic for faculty and for instructional support staff

Accountability to the Community

  • Material rather than symbolic commitment to racial justice on and off campus, including the need for Penn’s consistent investment in Philadelphia’s public schools and existing community infrastructure 
  • Cutting ties to the PPD and changing Penn’s approach to community safety

Our chapter has formed committees to address the status of contingent faculty, women and minority faculty, and graduate student-workers; racial justice and university–community relations; and faculty governance. Members with the means to do so have contributed to a fund that subsidizes membership in the national organization for grads, adjuncts, and others needing support. We are one faculty at Penn, and we invite colleagues of all ranks and from all schools to join us in advocating for a more equitable university.

We are energized by the possibility of democratic, consultative governance at Penn that involves not only all faculty but also staff, students, and community members. Our collective desire to help shape the university’s priorities is by no means an unachievable ideal; we pledge to do all we can to make it our reality.